A collaborative map of Val Trebbia: OpenStreetMap

The core philosophy of our age seems to be represented by the motto “What is not on the Internet is not at all”. Our perception of reality has been radically reshaped by technology and new media platforms proliferating at the speed of sound, with new updates being released day after day.

It’s not necessarily something to be scared of: many projects, which would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, are appearing on the Internet, sometimes reaching incredible results.

Mapkibera is an example of how technology can contribute to uncover underrepresented realities and uncover long ignored truths. The project in fact made the daily life of one of the biggest slums in the world, located just a few kilometers outside of Nairobi in Kenya,  known to the public.

Before the beginning of the project Kibera was a black hole and was not featured on any official map, not even on Google Maps. The image the public had of Kibera was that of a typical slum, very much like that depicted in the movie  Slumdog Millionare, a pile of rubbish and rotten huts.

Map Kibera in action (unmultimedia.org)

The mapping and documentation project was all realized through digital media, including blogs, online videos, pictures and a news site all managed from the bottom-up by the inhabitants of the slum. Mapkibera showed the truth about this area which, although still an underprivileged and poor center, features shops, medical premises, bars, shops and other basic services. Furthermore the project revealed the real size of the area of the ghost town (256 hectares), officially unknown until then.

Froml Kenya to Italy: what can we learn from Kibera?

One of the opensource and free tools available online used for the mapping project was OpenStreetMap, which can be understood as the extension of Wikipedia to digital maps.

Everybody can access the website and add features to the map: the city of Genoa recently launched a mapping project to cover the city which will also be an occasion for citizens to socialize and meet each other through several events.

What about Val Trebbia? Now that you know where to find the tools you need, you got no excuses not to start exploring and make the most beautiful valley in the world known online.

Good work!

Foto: logo OpenStreetMap

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