Open Source Tech Putting Slums on the Map
A recent study has shown how open source technology was used as a key part of slum upgrading in Kibera, Kenya.
Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, was a blank spot on the map until November 2009, when young Kiberans created the first free and open digital map of their own community. Map Kibera has now grown into a complete interactive community information project.
This effort is the first-ever digital base map of the community. With all parts of the slum mapped out, Kibera was no longer invisible. And don't underestimate the power of a good map! Planetizen points out that John Snow’s map of cholera deaths in 1850s London helped change the practice of city planning, which long considered those communities too chaotic to handle.
Other open source technologies, such as 'Voice of Kibera', (a citizen-reporting site) enables residents to report happenings in the community by SMS and another program recruits residents to monitor the progress of infrastructure projects.
What I like about these initiatives is that they are driven by locals. It highlights awareness of local issues. Whilst identifying the problem is only the beginning (we haven't even begun to look at addressing anything), it is an important first step, and shows how open source tech can give a voice to marginalised citiznes.