Wednesday, November 05, 2008
I've posted messages here for several years, and thus you know of my passion for maps. For any of you who watched live election coverage on Fox or some of the other TV networks, did you see how interactive the maps were that they were using to provide information on the demographics and voting patterns of different states?
I'm sure the technology behind this was a Geographic Information System (GIS) of some sort. What I want to inspire you to think of is how people from different cities and states, colleges and businesses, can share their own knowledge of GIS technology with a goal of making a system available to President Obama, and local citizen leaders, that anyone can use to mobilize resources, point them in the right direction, and sustain them for the next four to eight years, so that complex problems get regular attention and adequate resources, and that President Obama really does go down in history as one of our greatest leaders.
My dream is that in spring 2009, and many times over the next eight years, I'll see a TV briefing hosted by President Obama, where he is showing the poverty map of the world, or of an American city, and zooming in on different countries, states, cities and neighborhoods, to show the gaps between rich and poor, and the places where volunteers need to give time, talent and dollars (lots of dollars) to close those gaps. At http://mappingforjustice.blogspot.com you can see some non-animated map reports. Imagine if these were presented using the types of technology shown on TV election coverage, and instead of a TV commentator, it was the President of the US, or the CEO of a Fortune 500/1000 company, or the leader of some other country.
A GIS can map almost anything. Thus, it could map health issues, or environmental issues, or water issues. It could map the distribution of public money, showing the uneven or inconsistent flow of fuel for complex problem solving.
That's been possible for a long time. What I hope will happen is that leaders use these maps to draw support from people, businesses, colleges and organizations who can help, to those places around the world, and in the USA, where help is needed. Such attention will identify organizations already operating in those places who seek reinforcements for work some of them have been doing for dozens of years, but with too little attention, and too few resources.
If the President adopts this technology into his leadership it can be a big step toward making the hope of this election become more of a reality for the people who have invested so much time, talent and dollars to get to this first victory in what will be a long race.
Until that happens, we'll continued to look for volunteers, donors and partners to build our own GIS to the level of interactive use that was demonstrated in the campaign coverage. If you'd like to help us, just call 312-492-9614 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel F. Bassill
800 W. Huron
Chicago, Il. 60642