Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Tell your own story through maps: New mapping system to allow you to report Hyderabadi issues

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Hyderabadis will soon have an online mapping system
to tell the story of their shrinking lakes, uncleared garbage spots,
overflowing sewage, forgotten landmarks and the culinary joys hidden
in the bylanes of the city.

They can also add maps to their city tales and share them with others
thanks to an innovative project, Hyderabad Urban Lab, a community hub
designed for researchers, activists, students and the common citizens.
It is a highly customised mapping system for Hyderabad and enables
people of common interest to form into a community and highlight their
problems and suggestions with the help of localized maps.

Though Google maps allow much of this, the interactive platform
developed by a team of city entrepreneurs serves as the medium for
social change. The map stories could be about virtually anything that
concerns the people.

The mapping platform enables user groups to enter and retrieve spatial
data about the city, and comment on it. “Maps are tools.  They help us
see the city and show it to others. They help us tell stories about
the city. We are making a tool for us to tell map stories in mailing
groups and on blogs. We are building a platform for people to make
maps of their own and share them with others with similar interests
and what’s more, put text and images and audio and video on the maps,”
says Anant Maringanti, a city-based geographer involved in the project.

On an experimental basis, a group of students of the University of
Hyderabad in the last two months collected spatial information on
around 400 data points on trash and sewage sites on campus. The data
points are supported by photos and videos uploaded by students.

“The University of Hyderabad literally sits on three major watersheds.
There is the problem of sewage leaking out from the hostel and the
nearby Gachibowli stadium. The data collected by the students will
help in knowing the exact damage caused to the campus environment. We
can thus initiate remedial steps,” Anant pointed out.

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