International collaboration delivers tools for sustainable urban development and links community crowdsourced information to national, regional, and global data sets.
A coalition of international partners announced today the launch of the Ecocitizen World Map Project, a powerful online crowd mapping tool designed to explore, understand, and measure holistic urban health from a citizen’s perspective, at the upcoming 7th World Urban Forum (WUF7) in Medellín Colombia, April 5-11th.
Led by non-profit Ecocity Builders USA in collaboration with the Organization of American States, Esri, the Association of American Geographers, Eye on Earth (a partnership of UNEP + Abu Dhabi Environmental Data Initiative) along with local academic partners, NGOs and community organizations, the public-private partnership was developed to facilitate simple individual snapshots of a community’s social and environmental health as well as more sophisticated local and regional training and geospatial analysis.
“As the global community is becoming more aware of the crucial role cities play in mitigating climate change and leading the way toward sustainable development, the importance of understanding and connecting the diverse layers that comprise urban ecosystems cannot be overstated,” says Kirstin Miller, Executive Director of Ecocity Builders.
The Ecocitizen World Map Project consists of two interwoven elements. One enables and encourages citizens to participate directly by taking a short online survey—powered by crowdsourcing platform Ushahidi—ranking their cities and neighborhoods along fifteen conditions outlined by the International Ecocity Framework and Standards Initiative.
Another provides on-the-ground training in pilot cities to students, citizens, and public officials, using Esri’s mobile GIS technology in combination with online tools and educational materials to assess, measure, and plan for increasing the health and resilience of urban systems and to identify barriers to improving quality of life. Inaugural pilot cities include WUF7 host Medellín, supported by a grant from the OAS’ Sustainable Communities in the Americas Initiative, as well as Cairo and Casablanca, supported by a grant from Eye on Earth.
“In order to make informed decisions that benefit all stakeholders equitably and sustainably we have to delve more deeply into as many social, geographical, and environmental areas as possible,” Miller explains the need for charting the progress of cities’ social and environmental sustainability. “And who better to provide that first-hand knowledge than the inhabitants of those microcosms?”
The project will be presented by Ecocity Builders, AAG, Esri, OAS, AGEDI, and the US Department of State at the “Building Resilience and Equity Through Citizen Participation and Geodesign” session on Thursday April 10th, 11am – 12pm, at the UN Habitat City Changer Room. It will also be showcased throughout the conference at the Esri Geospatial Pavilion. A training event entitled “How to use mobile technology to measure urban equity,” presented by ITC-University of Twente, the Netherlands, Esri, and Ecocity Builders, will be held on Wednesday, April 9th at TE7, Room 20.