Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Crowdmap: Make Your Own Intensity Maps

An example of Crowdmap: Haiti Earthquake internally displaced persons (IDP) camps

Crowdmap is a neat little yet powerful tool which allows users to make their own intensity maps for free.  The tool is completely online and does not require any downloading.  These sorts of intensity maps became popular during the Haiti earthquake and recent conflicts like the last Israel-Hamas War.

It is easy to categorize data entries. A timeline tool is also available for one to add a temporal dimension to the spatial data.  However, what truly seperates Crowdmap, and its earlier incarnation Ushahidi, from other tools is that it combines elements of Web 2.0 to allow for instant updating via crowd sourcing (imagine neogeography meets the open contributor policy of Wikipedia).  Updates can be submitted by text messaging, Twitter, or filling out a web form.

The learning curve is extremely shallow and setup is down within minutes.  Check out Vote Report India or Swine Flu for examples of what one can do with this powerful neogeography tool.


data diplomacy said...

Intensity maps are a great example of the potential conflicts between geography and neo-geography. Actually I would argue that this has little to do with geography and more to do with graphic design and visualization. The crunch comes when the user of an intensity visualization attempts to apply the overlay graphic to derive spatial meaning from the underlying map. a graduated graphic symbol is not a calculated surface. The 2006 Solidarity maps of Lebanon that you mention had this problem where increasing rings of intensity obliterated most of south Lebanon, Beirut and elsewhere. While a red colored map of Lebanon fit well with advocacy purposes it was factually very misleading.

Still the need remains to capture the experience or impact of what happened and place it in spatial context.

Catholicgauze said...

Data Diplomacy,
Very interesting perspective. Something I have to mull over.