221857 Citizen Mapping and Environmental Justice: Internet Applications for Research and Advocacy

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 9:30 AM - 9:50 AM

Lisa M. Jordan, PhD , Department of Geography, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Background: This paper provides a review of the terms and practices associated with the democratization of cartography and illustrates their potential to contribute to the environmental justice movement. The Internet has revolutionized how maps are made and communicated. Citizen mapping involves multiple individuals collaborating on the collection and synthesis of spatial data via web-based software. Google Earth allows users to combine and communicate cartographic information without extensive geospatial training. These developments can engage the public in the collection, analysis, and most important, the comprehension of the power of maps to promote environmental and social justice.

Objectives: We illustrate this potential through a case study in Tallahassee, Florida, where a biomass facility was proposed for a low income minority neighborhood. The site was permitted without consideration of the input of residents and without critical examination of the disconnect between the regional and local scales in which pollutants are monitored versus the actual exposure and impact to community residents mediated by sociodemographics, environmental, and health status the hallmarks of environmental injustice.

Methods: To communicate the fundamental issues in this debate, as well as to illustrate the democratizing turn in geospatial sciences, Google Earth was deployed to integrate GPS data, photographs, video, and sociodemographic data.

Conclusions: Screenshots from this mapping activity are presented as a means to inform scholars of the potential for web-based geospatial tools in environmental justice activism. We close with a discussion of how the use of maps requires critical thought and analysis to avoid their misuse.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
List and Define Web 2.0 applications for mapping and analyzing issues in environmental justice. Discuss case studies in environmental justice displayed with a Google Earth interface. Demonstrate how to collect, display and assess demographic information along with environmental risks and hazards in Google Earth and Google Maps.

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Geographic Information Systems

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I serve as faculty for the Geography and Public Health Departments at Florida State University, with a teaching and research focus in medical geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.