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Crowd-sourced mapping holds particular promise for areas of the world where governments and businesses either can’t or won’t produce detailed maps of cities, countries, and commerce. And yet looking at open-source maps for a variety of developing world countries illustrates that user-generated content for maps has yet to make headway. Blank landscapes are devoid of neighborhoods, streets, local businesses. The rich patchwork of city life becomes invisible, and thus inaccessible in some fundamental ways. While mobile phone adoption, Internet usage, and social media use generally grows – sometimes quite rapidly – users in these regions are still opting out of the task of mapping their lives and their landscapes. This talk will address the ecosystem of hardware and software (mobiles, towers, network protocols, etc.), usage patterns and design constraints, and government policy issues that impact the ability and desire of users in the developing world to contribute user-generated content that can help fill in otherwise blank maps.
Beth Kolko is a faculty member in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington, and she is a faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. She directs the Design for Digital Inclusion research group at UW. For the past decade she has worked on Internet and mobile adoption and adaptation patterns across the developing world. She is committed to exploring how to leverage social networks and mobile technologies in resource constrained environments, and she has also recently launched a series of projects focused on transportation.