MapInclusion: supporting migrants through digital mapping

Thanks to the support of the European Union through the Erasmus+ program called "Small-scale partnerships in adult education", CartONG is launching a new project. From January 2022 to June 2023, the MapInclusive project will aim at helping migrant people in France and Greece to acquire new digital skills through digital mapping activities.

To carry out this project, CartONG is working hand in hand with Social Hackers Academy, a non-profit web development school created in Athens in 2017 and which provides technical training to vulnerable populations and accompanies them in their job search. This partnership allows us to combine skills: CartONG brings its expertise in facilitating digital mapping workshops, while Social Hackers Academy bring its experience in training and supporting vulnerable groups to the project.

Origins of the project

In 2018-2019, the Maps from here & abroad project led by CartONG resulted in the first digital workshops in the form of mapathons conducted with migrant people. Even back then, we had observed the relevance of this activity to encourage intercultural exchanges and accompany vulnrable populations in the discovery of digital tools, while giving them the opportunity to make themselves useful in a very concrete way. Following this, the association MAMAPA (Mannheimer Mapathons), led by a CartONG volunteer, Robert Danziger, took this project further by running regular mapathons with migrant people in Mannheim, Germany, before the Covid-19 outbreak.

Over the last few years, CartONG has also been experimenting with new formats of digital mapping workshops for the general public, in particular for young audiences in Savoie. The Mappe ton Monde project has allowed us to test digital educational modules with a group of teenagers in Chambéry: introduction to mapping projections, outdoor data collection, creation of a simple webmap, etc. Developing these new pedagogical modules showed us how relevant if was to propose workshop cycles composed of several sessions to dive deeper on a topic.

Drawing on these experiences, CartONG is now planning to relaunch the organization of mapathons for migrant people, to develop a new workshop format composed of several sessions for the same audiences, and to support Social Hackers Academy in bringing these activities to Greece!

Les mapathons MapInclusive fonctionnent en binôme : une personne “locale”
accompagne une personne migrante dans la découverte de la cartographie
collaborative sur OpenStreetMap. Voir ci-dessous dans le corps de
l’article pour plus de détails.

Three key points of focus

Digital mapping workshops present many advantages. The activities planned as part of this project therefore aim to meet several objectives.

First and foremost, to help participants get familiar with digital tools in a relaxed atmosphere. The digital mapping workshops provide an introduction to some basic digital knowledge: using a browser, a keyboard, a mouse to click, how to zoom in or out, etc. Participants will be accompanied throughout this learning process by the workshop facilitators and also by CartONG and Social Hackers Academy volunteers.

The second objective is to teach participants how to read and use maps so they can be fully autonomous. Maps are a valuable resource for obtaining information on transportation, discovering a new city and knowing where basic services are located. However, they are seldom used by people who are newly arrived, far from digital technology, or unfamiliar with map reading. The proposed workshops will therefore develop the participants’ interest in maps, in order to promote their mobility and their access to various services in their new territory.

Finally, we aim to offer a setting that fosters intercultural exchanges, especially during mapathons, where working in pairs encourages mutual support and discussion around a concrete activity, and also encourages the learning of the hosting community’s language.

I liked the venue, the friendliness, the thorough explanations, the amusing buddy system,
and the fact that I could work at my own pace

Some feedback we received from the participants of our first MapInclusive mapathon

Valentina (au centre), chargée de projet de Social Hackers Academy est venue
une semaine à Chambéry fin avril 2022 pour être formée par CartONG.

Activities taking place in France and in Greece

For 18 months, migrant people and volunteers from CartONG and Social Hackers Academy will be involved in two types of digital mapping activities, in France and in Greece. On the one hand, we will facilitate on-site mapathons for migrant people in both countries, using a “working in pair” system, as detailed above. On the other hand, we will develop a new learning module composed of several sessions, punctuated of various cartographic activities: discovery of OpenStreetMap, mapping projections, urban walks to map points of interest, collaborative creation of maps, among others. This new module will be made available to migrant people in both France and Greece, which we will communicate more about in the fall.

Throughout the project, training materials and methodological documentation will be produced, some of which will be made available to local, national and international solidarity actors via the IM Resource Portal. In addition, in order to propose these activities in Greece, a Social Hackers Academy Project Manager was trained in the facilitation of these activities at the end of April 2022 in Chambéry.

As part of the project’s implementation in France, 3 partner structures will be hosting the workshops. Those are currently being identified, although a first mapathon was already organized in May 2022 in partnership with the Groupement des possibles in Grenoble, at the Campus Numérique in the Alps Grenoble. During this mapathon, 14 participants mapped 679 shelters of a refugee site in Chad: a great kick-off to the project!

Partners of the project