Amy Hillier, an assistant professor of planning at PennDesign aimed her multidisciplinary Mapping Du Bois Project squarely at resurrecting the seminal social-science research that W.E.B. Du Bois, an eventual NAACP founder and then-UPenn employee, completed here for his 1899 book, The Philadelphia Negro.
To date, Hillier's all-student team has merged Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and archival data to build an interactive mapping website of the Seventh Ward. The $350,000 project has led to a board game, high school curriculum materials and plans for a national teacher-training program. The School District of Philadelphia has required an African-American history class since 2005, the year Mapping Du Bois began.
University of Maryland Professor Hiroyuki Iseki
joined colleagues from California, Arizona, Germany and Japan compiled into what's known as a GIS map or geographic information system map. They scoured the Internet for all kinds of data: general stuff, like what's the population, and more specific stuff, like where are cellphones working or where are the refugees.
And then they got really useful information from individuals organizing on their own and from volunteers via Twitter and Google Docs. Iseki says there were able to locate public phones, charging stations, food supplies, water distribution centers and locations accepting evacuees. He says the data comes from people driving in the field, who then use smartphones to upload information to the Internet.
While it might seem like a crisis worker's dream, the map was not widely used by refugees or responders in Japan. It's an experiment -- an attempt to show what emergency response might look like in the future.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson presented a map of Oakland County, MI and its significance to the Underground Railroad and other Civil War-era stories and events during a program this week. Now he wants the map to be available to classroom in the county. A curriculum is being designed around the 4' x4' map which retains for $20.
"It's a good educational tool," Patterson said. "Kids now in our schools in Oakland County are going to learn a little different view of what their great-great-great-grandparents were doing 150 years ago."