Local Ground: A Platform for Collecting Local Geo-Spatial Knowledge
Gathering and analyzing geospatial information is critical for many decision makers, planners, and developers. Yet in many contexts, there are significant challenges to collecting this data, including cost constraints, the lack of availability and trained operators of hand-held GPS devices, and the difficulty in finding staff who have the time or training to organize spatial data.
Local Ground combines the best of paper and pixels by using paper maps to capture rich qualitative data, creating digital versions of the hand-drawn annotations, then importing the annotations to a digital map. Using paper maps instead of GPS devices makes the data collection process cheap, portable, and, most importantly, easy to learn. Digitizing the data then allows planners and community members to collate and analyze the data with our user interface, and our visualization tools enable them to share their findings with key decision makers.
We are currently testing our proof-of-concept design in conjunction with the Y-PLAN program; students in John F. Kennedy High School, Walter T. Helms Middle School, and Richmond High School; and various community organizations in Richmond. These stakeholders are involved in the redesign of Nystrom Village Housing in the Nystrom neighborhood of Richmond as part of the Nystrom Urban ReVitalization Effort (NURVE), and we hope Local Ground will help them collect qualitative data from community members, analyze that data, and then share redesign plans with each other and with other stakeholders.