“Grassroots Mapping: How You Can Create Aerial Cartography for Under $100, and Use It to Do Good
Ben Jurvey. 3.7.2012
Historically, aerial mapmaking has been handled by governments and businesses alone. Who else could afford to put satellites in orbit or hire planes for private flyovers?
The notion that aerial imagery is only for the rich and powerful is being turned on its ear by an inspired group of DIY cartographers who have pioneered the field of grassroots mapping. The concept is simple: for about $100 in materials you can shoot aerial imagery that is higher resolution than any standard public satellite imagery. Using incredibly simple balloon and kite contraptions, you can capture the images on demand whenever you want, as often as you want.
Jeffrey Warren of MIT’s Media Lab came up with the basic concept, which he calls “Grassroots Mapping,” last year while working on a land-rights dispute in Lima, Peru. Then the BP oil spill happened, and the benefits of this method of mapping became urgently clear. Working with the Lousiana Bucket Brigade during the media blackout when FAA regulations prevented aircraft from flying lower than 4,000 feet above sensitive areas of the spill, Warren and the Grassroots Mapping team flew balloons and kites and captured incredibly vivid images of the oil spill’s impacts. Using simple online cartographic tools, the photos can be stitched together into bigger maps, like this one of the Lake Borgne wetlands east of New Orleans captured on June 11th of last year.
Of the oil spill work, the Grassroots Mapping team explained:
We’re helping citizens to use balloons, kites, and other simple and inexpensive tools to produce their own aerial imagery of the spill… documentation that will be essential for environmental and legal use in coming yeas.We believe in complete open access to spill imagery and are releasing all imagery into the public domain.”
Via: GOOD Magazine