Up, up in the sky!

What do you do when satellites don’t see you, Google can’t find you and local governments don’t recognize you?

In my previous post, I reviewed my encounter with the exhibition titled Design With the Other 90%: Cities. The project website is here. I wanted to bring forward two projects that I feel reflect the spirit and purpose of this blog; how to use images to create better living spaces. This is part two.

The project I admire from this exhibition, is Jeff Warren’s Grassroots Mapping project. The problem with informal settlement around the world, is that they are hard to map, which is an essential part of “exploring, documenting, and planning communities”. Jeff created a simple and clever way for the local population to crowd source the mapping of areas with otherwise little power to do so. Armed with some balloons or trash bags, camera, string, and a digital camera Jeff showed that there is a way to send a camera high up in the sky above the area that needs to be mapped. The camera fires away, taking high-resolution images of the ground below, and these images can then be uploaded to Google Maps.

People living in these areas, can now see their relation to other communities, establish land ownership and feel proud of their existence. Knowing that you exist, even on a map, is I’m sure, a huge security for many.

This is something I would like to do myself, maybe go to a popular park somewhere and take pictures of people enjoying a summer day. The project has a sense of adventure about it, that is delivered by the power of images. Mapping is a forgotten thing for many,as we rely on our GPS navigators, but deep down, they are a form of imagery that help our lives in more that just quantitative or informational ways. Imagery can be used to instill a sense of wonder, discovery, security, and belonging; all of which are good values for creating better living spaces.