Bridging the Divide in Crisis Mapping
As mentioned in a recent blog post, my colleague Jen Ziemke and I are organizing a workshop on the topic of crisis mapping. The purpose of this workshop is to bring together a small group of scholars and practitioners who are pioneering the new field of crisis mapping. We are currently exploring funding opportunities with a number of donors and welcome any suggestions you might have for specific sponsors.
The new field of crisis mapping encompasses the collection, dynamic visualization and subsequent analysis of georeferenced information on contemporary conflicts and human rights violations. A wide range of sources are used to create these crisis maps, (e.g. events data, newspaper and intelligence parsing, satellite imagery, interview and survey data, SMS, etc). Scholars have developed several analytical methodologies to identify patterns in dynamic crisis maps. These range from computational methods and visualization techniques to spatial econometrics and “hot spot” analysis.
While scholars employ these sophisticated methods in their academic research, operational crisis mapping platforms developed by practitioners are completely devoid of analytical tools. At the same time, scholars often assume that humanitarian practitioners are conversant in quantitative spatial analysis, which is rarely the case. Furthermore, practitioners who are deploying crisis mapping platforms do not have time to the academic literature on this topic.
Mobile Crisis Mapping and Crisis Mapping Analytics
In other words, there is a growing divide between scholars and practitioners in the field of crisis mapping. The purpose of this workshop is to bridge this divide by bringing scholars and practitioners together to shape the future of crisis mapping. At the heart of this lies two new developments: Mobile Crisis Mapping (MCM) and Crisis Mapping Analytics (CMA). See previous blog posts on MCM and CMA here and here.
I created these terms to highlight areas in need for further applied research. As MCM platforms like Ushahidi‘s become more widely available, the amount of crowdsourced data will substantially increase and so mays of the challenges around data validation and analysis. This is why we need to think now about developing a field of Crisis Mapping Analytics (CMA) to make sense of the incoming data and identify new and recurring patterns in human rights abuses and conflict.
This entails developing user-friendly metrics for CMA that practitioners can build in as part of their MCM platforms. However, there is no need to reinvent the circle since scholars who analyze spatial and temporal patterns of conflict already employ sophisticated metrics that can inform the development of CMA metrics. In sum, a dedicated workshop that brings these practitioners and scholars together would help accelerate the developing field of crisis mapping.
Here is a draft agenda that we’ve been sharing with prospective donors. We envisage the workshop to take place over a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Feedback is very much welcomed.
Day 1 – Friday
Welcome and Introductions
Keynote 1 – The Past & Future of Crisis Mapping
Roundtable 1 – Presentation of Academic and Operational Crisis Mapping projects with Q&A
Track 1a – Introduction to Automated Crisis Mapping (ACM): From information collection and data validation to dynamic visualization and dissemination
Track 1b – Introduction to Mobile Crisis Mapping (MCM): From information collection and data validation to dynamic visualization and dissemination
Track 2a – Special introduction for newly interested colleagues and students on spatial thinking in social sciences, using maps to understand crisis, violence and war
Track 2b – Breakout session for students and new faculty: hands-on introduction to GIS and other mapping programs
Day 2 – Saturday
Keynote 2 – Crisis Mapping and Patterns Analysis
Roundtable 2 – Interdisciplinary Applications: Innovations & Challenges
Roundtable 3 – Data Collection & Validations: Innovations & Challenges
Roundtable 4 – Crisis Mapping Analytics (CMA): Metrics and Taxonomies
Roundtable 5 – Crisis Mapping & Response: Innovations & Challenges
Day 3 – Sunday
Keynote 3 – What Happens Next – Shaping the Future of Crisis Mapping
Here are some of the main academic institutes and crisis mapping organizations we had in mind:
- John Carrol University (JCU)
- Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI)
- Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)
- International Conflict Research, ETH Zurich
- US Institute for Peace (USIP)
- Political Science Department, Yale University
- Development Seed
- Predict and Prevent Initiative
- Microsoft Humanitarian Systems Group
Before we can move forward on any of this, we need to identify potential donors to help co-sponsor the workshop. So please do get in touch if you have any suggestions and/or creative ideas.