Refugees use citizen science and kickstarter to map their camp for themselves

Signal of change / Refugees use citizen science and kickstarter to map their camp for themselves

By Joy Green / 20 Nov 2017

This signal was originally written on 19 Oct 2016.


The Bourj Al Shamali refugee camp in Lebanon has hosted refugees since 1948 as a 'temporary solution' - it is now an overcrowded, informally constructed concrete city. Its residents don't even have access to an accurate map of where they live - online maps are of too poor resolution, and detailed maps are witheld by the governments and agencies that have them.

A local citizen science group is now using balloon-mapping as a "DIY aerial photography tool" to create the first-ever residents' map. Funds to finish the map are being raised on kickstarter, bypassing reliance on traditional centralised institutions. This map will then be used to help the community to analyse their environment and plan and advocate for improvements to the camp.



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What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

one other thing to note is that they are purposefully using a balloon rather than a drone, as it creates a different dynamic - balloons aren't associated with war, they are more playful, and you also have to be tethered to it - it isn't remote-controlled. These qualities have led to greater engagement with the project from the other camp residents. This particular use of balloons for mapping was developed by Public Lab, the citizen science network that is also supporting this project
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