Internews Center for Innovation & Learning

Internews Center for Innovation & Learning
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Balloon Mapping

Balloon Mapping is a project from Grassroots Mapping as part of a series of participatory mapping projects involving communities in cartographic dispute, started by Jeffrey Warren of the MIT Media Lab's Center for Future Civic Media. Seeking to invert the traditional power structure of cartography, the grassroots mappers used helium balloons and kites to loft their own community satellites made with inexpensive cameras. The resulting images, which are owned by the residents, are georeferenced and stitched into maps which are 100x higher resolution that those offered by Google, at extremely low cost. By creating open-source tools to include everyday people in exploring and defining their own geography, Warren hopes to enable a diverse set of alternative agendas and practices, and to emphasize the fundamentally narrative and subjective aspects of mapping over its use as a medium of control. (from the Grassroots Mapping website)

Key Features: 
Easy to deploy and low cost community mapping projects, environmental mapping and balloon mapping
Suitable for: 
Easy community mapping with lack of mapping software and resources
Time commitment: 
Medium: the collection of data is normally pretty time consuming and the uploading of the data also takes some time
Not suitable for: 
High quality and high cost GIS mapping
Technical expertise needed: 
Low for what it concerns the data gathering, and high when it comes to upload data on a computer and digitalize it
Cost considerations: 
The system is free and the website provide all the instructions and rough cost of the equipment necessary