Closing the divide: Data visualisations, organisational structures and representation in humanitarian mapping

Co-authored with Amelia Hunt

 

As the classic digital divide, around access, becomes ever smaller two significant barriers persist in opening up geospatial and mapping technologies for new users and for implementation in humanitarian and development projects. These are questions over translation of graphical representation, and organizational barriers to data flows. This session aims to address both these issues. Firstly by exploring the ‘untruths’ of digital mapping tools, borrowing lessons from data visualization techniques and the work of the post-impressionist art movement, to suggest that the gaps in our maps are where the majority of the richest data for humanitarianism lies. Secondly, we seek to address the organizational barriers to sharing this information between lay users and organizations. Exploring the role of centralized, decentralized and distributed networks we develop a management concept of research, regionalize, prepare, humanize. The session aims show that the dual process of understanding the data collected, how it is translated, and the networks through which it is distributed, can add more value, and create better representations and maps, than adding additional data.

 

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