Telling the Mapeo story on the Mapscaping podcast

In the latest episode of the Mapscaping podcast, our Technology Director, Gregor MacLennan, joins host Daniel O’Donohue to talk about the Mapeo app, how we’re using peer-to-peer technology to support the efforts of Indigenous communities in their struggles for environmental and social justice, and how communities are using maps to tell a story about why their lands and rivers are so important to them. You can listen to the episode here: Peer To Peer Mapping and Digital Democracy.

In the interview, Gregor shares some stories that illustrate what led to the creation of the Mapeo app and its offline-first, easy-to-use, and collaborative nature.

“We’ve always tried to support [communities] in making the maps themselves, but the technology became a barrier. For people who have never used a laptop before, that have never used technology before, it’s a very steep learning curve. And we found challenges in the scalability of training community members to use the existing technology. That’s what triggered us to start to look at what other technologies were out there apart from complicated GIS software. Then we hit the problem of connectivity — so many areas we work in have zero or very limited connectivity. We found a real hole in what is available in terms of tools that are easy to use and work offline. We started building apps that are very easy to learn, even for those who have never picked up a laptop or phone before, to start collecting data, putting it on a map and categorizing it, and making something that would work offline without relying on an internet connection, without relying on hosting data somewhere else, which might stop working or become inaccessible for themselves.”

Gregor also talked about the power of maps, countermapping, and much more!

“It’s like fighting words with words, fighting maps with maps. It’s giving communities the ability to create their own map, which represents their own view about how the world is, about who the land belongs to, about how it’s being used, and about who should make decisions about it. The difference of when a community understands the technology being used, they understand the maps, they can read them but also can also show their own maps, they can enter those conversations on a much more equal level, and feel more empowered to enter those discussions about how decisions are made, about how the lands are used, how decisions about the future are done, and what is happening there.” 

🔊🔊 To listen to the whole interview, check out the episode here! 🔊🔊

Also available on Spotify / Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts

Gregor training a Wampis community in the use of Mapeo Desktop, Peru, 2019. 
Credits: Digital Democracy