Americas GIS

Kites and balloons, mapping the Gulf Coast Oil spill.

A Grassroots mapping team lead by Jeffrey Warren is positioned in New Orleans and taking coastline images that may be useful in the future for establishing a baseline of conditions before oil arrives. Perhaps sadly also recording the aftermath for comparison.

Grassroots mapping seeks 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 digital 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. In some cases these maps may be used to support residents’ claims to land title. 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.

Donations of suitable camera and equipment have enabled a comprehensive and compelling peoples response to this environmental disaster.

For more information and to volunteer.

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