Since 2015, CartONG has been supporting solidarity projects by providing mapping methods and tools that put people at the heart of projects, taking better account of local communities and their decision-making capacity.
A support offer based on years of implementation and exploration of participatory and innovative approaches
It is through our participation in the international project Missing Maps (based on OpenStreetMap) that we first got involved in participatory mapping, proposing collaborative mapping workshops open to all (also called mapathons) to map parts of the world that do not yet appear on maps.
Over the years, CartONG has sought to strengthen the collaborative dimension of the project and develop a broader set of innovative participatory mapping activities to concretely mobilize local communities, overcome information gaps and facilitate knowledge sharing. We have been able to use these methods for projects around the promotion of the rights of marginalized populations in French Guiana with the Maroni Lab, food security in Madagascar with Secours Islamique France, or more recently for the mapping of informal settlements in Mayotte with Médecins du Monde.
In addition to the use of "traditional" participatory mapping tools and methodologies, CartONG has been developing, since 2018, subjective mapping workshops allowing participants to express on a non-specific medium, ephemeral or lasting, their spatial representation of a territory or a journey, according to a subjective perspective. We have been able to implement this in the framework of our project Maps from here & abroad, using participative and subjective mapping as a framework for exchange and intercultural dialogue.
A customized support offer based on 4 complementary activity modules
Our team has built on its various experiences to consolidate a customized support offer around 4 complementary activity modules, which you can discover below or in our portfolio with examples of past collaborations:
a. Collaborative mapping workshops to create or update the map of your project area
These workshops - mapathons - can be organized remotely. The principle is simple, it is about mobilizing a group of participants to map what is visible from satellite imagery - this activity, like the following ones, is accessible to all. It allows you to have an updated reference map of your project's area in a short period of time.
b. Participatory data collection workshops to gather thematic and/or subjective information from the field and fully involve local communities
For these workshops, several approaches are possible: individual, collective, paper-based or using a mobile application, as well as subjective, free, directed or semi-directed mapping... The methodology is to be defined and adjusted - even merged - according to the objectives of your approach, the type of data you wish to collect, the constraints of the field, but also the level of participation you wish to achieve!
The process is, in any case, progressive: from the mobilization of the participants, to the introduction of the key concepts of the mapping process, the definition of its legend and finally to the data collection.
c. The (co-)production of maps to enhance and share the information collected
Paper or digital, static or dynamic, maps can take many different shapes. It is a full-fledged job to enhance and translate the data collected into a cartographic form. The challenges? To translate a given situation objectively, to spatialize qualitative information, to find the right representation format, to suggest relevant data analyzes and cross-referencing. The objectives? To translate these maps into a real tool for diagnosis, decision making, awareness raising or advocacy.
After a joint reflection on the maps and exchanges with the participants, as data producers, CartONG proposes to create your own maps or to involve you in the production process according to your own wishes and abilities.
d. Workshops with the participants to discuss the maps and identify new perspectives for the project
CartONG encourages the organization of feedback sessions with participants, as a way to highlight the work accomplished, but above all to allow them to fully understand them and identify ways to make use of them. The work with the participants can stop there, but it can also be the beginning of a new stage consisting in bringing out new ideas, encouraging community initiatives or even initiating new projects.
A support offer based on the pillars of open data & low tech and innovation & learning
To best support our partners and meet their needs according to the chosen activity modules, our approach is based on the following two pillars:
a. Using light technical solutions and digital commons to ensure the sustainability of our actions and the projects we support
The technological tools we use for data collection and map production are low tech and promote open data, they can thus be easily adapted and reused beyond one single project. We rely primarily on the free and collaborative wiki world map, OpenStreetMap (OSM). We use map data from OSM when available, otherwise we enhance and complement it directly with collection and mapping tools from the same ecosystem.
b. Learning and innovating in a dynamic way
During the GeOnG 2022 forum, we organized a workshop that allowed aid actors to discover these different methodologies through hands-on activities and to compare their practices - do not hesitate to contact us if your organization is interested in setting up this type of internal awareness-raising activity together!
CartONG is also constantly monitoring mapping tools thanks to its team of geomatics specialists and web developers and its volunteer community. We test and compare numerous tools in search of ever more innovative and accessible solutions.
We encourage you to consult our new "Participatory Mapping Portfolio" to discover in more detail the different projects and partners we have had the opportunity to support and to learn more about our support offer on the topic. Interested in our approach? Would you like to benefit from it? Contact our team by email.