From 18 to 22 November, over one hundred international crisis mappers descended on Nairobi for the 5th Annual International Conference of Crisis Mappers. The theme of this years' conference was "Humanitarian Technology Innovation In and Out of Africa", with core themes including grassroots-centred mapping, big data analytics, crowd-sourced crisis information and next generation humanitarian technology solutions. This years' local conference host was Spatial Collective - a partner of UN-Habitat - who have extensive experience in community mapping initiatives.
The first two days – the "pre-conference" – were held in and around Nairobi's neighbourhoods, hosted by Spatial Collective, Sisini Amani Kenya and Nairobi's iHub. Participants at these first two days gained an understanding of local practice and challenges across GIS, mobile technology and communication projects, as well as some hands on training. Day 3 brought the crisis mappers to the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), where the day commenced with the official opening by Jen Ziemke and Patrick Meieir , co-founders of the International Network of Crisis Mappers and curators of this conference.
"UN-Habitat works extensively in the disaster and reconstruction area, and we as an agency have been the beneficiaries of the great work that crisis mappers globally have done whether that be in Haiti, Pakistan or now in the Philippines," said Doug Ragan, Head of UN-Habitat's Youth Unit. "We congratulate our partners such as Sisi Ni Amani and Spatial Collective for the great work they are doing using mapping as a way to engage youth in local governance and peace building."
Following remarks from donors the discussions kicked off with a reflection on Nairobi's Westgate tragedy, and the relevance of crisis mapping: "Westgate: A reflection, in solidarity".
Over the next three days of the conference, animated discussions and ideas flowed as participants interacted across plenary panel sessions, networking events, fast-paced 'ignite' sessions and parallel crowd-sourced sessions.
The UN-Habitat Youth and Livelihoods Unit and the Global Land Tool Network Secretariat co-hosted a Self-Organised Session on the final day of the conference. The session presented the Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) to the crisis mapping audience, seeking input and feedback from the mix of humanitarian-focussed legal, policy and information technology professionals attending.
The hashtag #ICCM trended number one in Africa, and served as a parallel forum for comments and questions from around the world. These discussions targeted the role of grassroots communities, including the need for wide-reaching data literacy, the recognition of all forms of data (not only digital) and the question of bias in open and big data. Managing misinformation also featured – especially in the context of the Westgate shopping mall attack – as did the issues of privacy, overload and feedback and dialogue with the "crowd" in the context of big data.
More information on the Social Tenure Domain Model can be found at www.gltn.net . For those interested in learning or contributing more, please contact John Gitau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Next years ICCM will be hosted by Google in New York, USA. Videos and notes from ICCM2013 can be found online at www.crisismappers.net/videos and dhn.hackpad.com .