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Exploring topics for Vancouver ChangeCamp Mapping Session

Miss604 - maps at TransitCamp VancouverThe last couple weeks have been so full of activity helping to organize Vancouver ChangeCamp, that I’ve sadly neglected my very own proposed session on mapping and public engagement! That said, the goal was always for me to convene the conversation rather than show my (non-existent) expertise, so I’m feeling the pressure lift slightly on that angle.

All the same, there are certainly some themes I’m really enthusiastic about, adding on top of what I’ve already proposed previously for this session:

  • open mapping data — what could we do with open data if we had it? What’s already done in places where this has already happened (like in the District of North Vancouver)?
  • citizens organizing themselves to create relevant datasets — I’m hearing great examples all over the place, most recently in the collaboration with SFU students and the Vancouver Public Space Network in mapping cameras in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. How might we share these further and wider, perhaps alongside whatever data is made available by the City?
  • amenity mapping — Smart Growth and the Vancouver City Planning commission had a really neat project called YouMap Vancouver. I think there’s great potential here around new methods of citizen engagement through collaborative data collection and knowledge-making; how did it go when they did it, and where can their community festival model intersect with some of the projects we see online?
  • how do the availability of this data and social media tools for sharing affect literacy and thinking on various civic issues, like EcoDensity, transportation planning and land-use? Maged Senbel shared some of the results of his urban design studio class’ participatory design projects at Architecture for Humanity’s Living Density exhibition, where people in the Marpole neighbourhood expressed their feelings about the neighbourhood as well as their fears with the construction and operation of the Canada Line.
  • how do we in the neighbourhood who are interested and concerned about these issues find technology-savvy allies to collaborate on projects like these? I’d love to hear from organizations like the Vancouver Public Space Network and Free Geek on this point.
  • what are the challenges around making this data available that exist within organizations? I’ve been somewhat privy to the stories of TransLink’s challenges with these issues before — are they the sorts of things that others could overcome with the help of someone like David Hume (at the provincial level)? Are there methods internally for organizations to share their experiences of having made data open in the least painful methods possible?

I feel like I’m only really scratching the surface of these themes, and I’m open too to the idea that I’ve cast the net a bit too wide — for instance, I’m sure there’s a ton of overlap with Shari Wallace and David Eaves’ session. I’ve floated the ideas behind my session to a lot of people who may or may not actually show up on the day, so there’s little here that’s concretely tangible in terms of directions for the discussion on Saturday.

Which part of the potential crossover between community organizing and technology is most interesting, fascinating and rich to you (whether you’re coming or not)? What questions do you think I have missed? Here’s hoping that if you hatch any new questions, that the people who come to this session will have clear ways of working toward some answers! :)

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