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Public engagement and participation in health geography: crowdmaps (crowdsourced maps) by citizens, for citizens

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Cite as: Kamel Boulos MN. Public engagement and participation in health geography: crowdmaps (crowdsourced maps) by citizens, for citizens. In: Proceedings of GEOMED 2013, the 8th international interdisciplinary conference on spatial epidemiology, spatial statistics and geomedical systems, The Edge—University of Sheffield conference venue, Sheffield, UK, 16-18 September 2013 - http://www.shef.ac.uk/scharr/sections/ph/conferences/geomed2013/programmeandspeakers

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Public engagement and participation in health geography: crowdmaps (crowdsourced maps) by citizens, for citizens

  1. 1. Public engagement and participation in health geography: crowdmaps (crowdsourced maps) by citizens, for citizens Maged N. Kamel Boulos, PhD, FRGS, SMIEEE mnkboulos@ieee.org Founder & Editor-in-Chief http://www.geoconnexion.com/uploads/publication_pdfs/uk-v11i5-article-towards-citizen.pdf Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/gcxmag 18 September 2013 ISI 5-Yr IF: 2.7
  2. 2. Agenda • Introduction – 'Wikification of GIS by (and for) the masses' (Kamel Boulos, 2005): a vision fully realised today (2013) – Health-related applications of "direct" crowdmapping and crowdsensing (active/citizen-led) – "Indirect" crowdmapping (a product of sousveillance / Social Web mining—passive/machine-led) • ("Direct") crowdmaps • Technologies and tools for creating crowdmaps • Conclusions Power of the crowds . Empower the crowds Image credits: Text and modification by MN Kamel Boulos based on http://themarketingsquare.com/wp- content/uploads/2010/10/crowd-1.jpg
  3. 3. 'Wikification of GIS by the masses' (Kamel Boulos, 2005) • The most exciting recent developments in the geographic information science field are without doubt the results of the marriage or synergy between social media and geoinformatics. • 'Wikification of GIS by (and for) the masses' is a phrase-term first I coined in 2005 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1242244/), two years earlier than Goodchild's term 'Volunteered Geographic Information' (http://dx.doi.org/10.1007%2Fs10708-007-9111-y). Image source: http://geniusrecruiter.com/
  4. 4. Today… • Eight years later (2005-2013), OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/) and Google Earth (GE - http://www.google.com/earth/index.html) are now full- fledged, crowdsourced 'Wikipedias of the Earth' par excellence, with millions of users contributing their own layers to GE, attaching photos, videos, notes and even 3-D (three dimensional) models to locations in GE (Kamel Boulos et al., 2011: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1476-072X-10-67). • GIS (geographic information systems) and Google Maps MOOCs (massive open online courses) are rapidly becoming an affordable reality for the online masses eager to learn more about these important tools (http://apb.directionsmag.com/entry/my-take-on-the-google-maps-mooc-part-1/334505 and https://mapping.withgoogle.com/).
  5. 5. Health-related applications • But the 'Wikification of GIS by the masses' has many other serious public and environmental health surveillance applications and important roles to play in disaster and crisis management (Kamel Boulos et al., 2011: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1476-072X-10-67). • This is all about public empowerment, engagement and participation in health geography, and the so called crowdmaps (or crowdsourced maps) we frequently come across these days are created and updated by (large groups of) citizens, for consumption by citizens. Image source: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tonichilds/citizens-of-the-planet-live-experience
  6. 6. Health-related applications • Crowdsensing (distributed citizen sensing/ collaborative citizen reporting) and crowdmapping of environmental and health-related data and incidents are becoming increasingly common these days. • There are many applications ranging from building a database and map of all the Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs ) in a major US city (http://www.med.upenn.edu/myheartmap/), to crowdmapping of health facilities by citizens in the Philippines (http://r08.pia.gov.ph/index.php?article=1781331709149 and http://r08.pia.gov.ph/index.php?article=1141332522762), community-led air quality monitoring around the globe (http://airqualityegg.com/) and noise pollution monitoring by citizens (http://noisetube.net/).
  7. 7. Community-led air quality monitoring around the globe, powered by Xively (see later). Anyone can buy an Air Quality Egg at http://wickeddevice.com/in dex.php?main_page=produ ct_info&cPath=28&product s_id=108 (US $185 per unit, as at 31 July 2013) and contribute to the global map.
  8. 8. With the NoiseTube app, citizens can turn their smartphones into an environmental sensor and participate in the monitoring of noise pollution in their cities: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gza0tyjozGs (screenshot source: Stevens & D'Hondt, 2010)
  9. 9. Sousveillance / Social Web mining / "Indirect" crowdmaps • Real-time mining of indirectly self- reported and sousveillance information harvested from geo-coded aggregates of Twitter and other social network feeds can also offer useful data and insights about unfolding trends and emerging crowd behaviours at times of outbreaks, crises and disasters. Above figure: An approach developed by Manuel Garcia-Herranz and colleagues at the Autonomous University of Madrid exploits the Twittersphere to gain useful data and insights about unfolding trends and disease outbreaks http://www.un-spider.org/about-us/news/en/6384/2013-01-21t112800/crowdsourcing-study-suggests-how-best-monitor-disasters
  10. 10. http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/networks/emergency-alert-study-reveals-metadatas-better-side/ http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=06587204 "Indirect" crowdmaps
  11. 11. http://dx.doi.org/10.4304/jetwi.3.4.317-322 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmpb.2010.02.007 "Indirect"crowdmaps
  12. 12. ("Direct") crowdmaps • Now, let us consider only one aspect of these exciting developments: the use of crowdmaps for the visualisation of crowdsourced environmental and health-related data. • The latter often produce 'big data', i.e., large continuous streams of data that pose big challenges when trying to understand and make sense of, particularly when attempting to do so in real-time. Well-conceived crowdmaps can help us visualise and better understand / act upon such big data. Image sources: InformationWeek ('big data' elephant) and http://www.crowdsourcing.org/editorial/the- crowd-maps-beijing-floods-faster-better-than-chinese-government/17422 (Beijing floods, 7/2012)
  13. 13. Crowdmaps • In a recent article of mine entitled 'Seeing through the Crowds: Crowdmaps Visualize User-Reported Data' and published in GeoWorld in June 2012 (http://bit.ly/OPnrYW), several examples of crowdmaps are described, covering a diverse range of health and environmental topics, including:
  14. 14. Crowdmaps • Crowdmaps of lunchtime eating patterns in North America (http://nutrition.esri.com/ lunchbreak/); http://bit.ly/OPnrYW The 'Lunch Break' application only collects data from the six questions on its opening Web page. Participants can report lunch data everyday if they choose to do so.
  15. 15. Crowdmaps • 'Sickweather' crowdmaps (http://www.sickweather.com/); http://bit.ly/OPnrYW Screenshot of Sickweather, a service that promotes itself as the site "where one can check for the chance of sickness as easily as checking for the chance of rain" (might prove handy prior to travelling to a new location). Two types of visualisation can be seen on the map: orange polygons and blue 'sick' clouds (see inset in this screenshot). The former represent a 'storm', a concentrated amount of symptoms in a particular area, while the latter (see inset) represent individual incidents or reports and appear on zooming in.
  16. 16. Crowdmaps • Crowdsourced real-time radiation maps of Japan following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011: maps powered by Pachube, now rebranded as Xively—see later in this presentation (http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/energy/environment/radiation-monitoring-in-japan-goes-diy); and http://bit.ly/OPnrYW This map visualises live crowdsourced Geiger counter radiation readings from across Japan. The user can click on the labels to get more information about the source of each reading. Besides Geiger counter feeds provided by individuals, the map also aggregates and displays radiation measurements from other sources such as the Japanese government's sensor network (SPEEDI/MEXT—System for Prediction of Environment Emergency Dose Information by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology).
  17. 17. Crowdmaps • Crowdmap of sexual harassment incidents reported by Egyptian women (http://harassmap.org/en/) created using Ushahidi/ Crowdmap (see later in this presentation). http://bit.ly/OPnrYW Screenshot of HarassMap. Users can filter sexual harassment incidents by type (categories) and time (using Ushahidi's 'dynamic timeline' feature). HarassMap gives Egyptian women a way to anonymously report incidences of sexual harassment as soon as they happen, using mobile phone SMS messaging, e-mail, Twitter (by sending a tweet with the hashtag #harassmap), or by filling in a Web form. By mapping these reports online, the entire system is meant to act as an advocacy, response and prevention tool: women can use the map to learn about 'problem locations' where incidents tend to happen the most in order to avoid them, while authorities can intensify their presence in these areas. HarassMap received the 2011 UN World Summit Youth Award under the 'Power 2 Women' category. #CitizenEmpowerement
  18. 18. Creating crowdmaps: key underlying technologies and tools • Xively (formerly Cosm and before that Pachube - https://xively.com/showcase/): – In this age of the 'Internet of Things', it is becoming increasingly common to find volunteer citizens carrying various kinds of Internet- enabled sensors serving different purposes, such as distributed radiation sensing and environmental pollution monitoring. – Xively's Platform as a Service (PaaS) allows developers to connect geotagged sensor-derived data to the cloud and to build their own real-time applications (e.g., online mapping) based on those data. Commercial and free options are available: https://xively.com/pricing/
  19. 19. • Ushahidi/Crowdmap platform (http://www.ushahidi.com/products/crowdmap): – An open source platform that enables the easy deployment of crowdsourced interactive mapping applications with Web forms/e-mail, SMS (Short Message Service) and Twitter support (as information sources/for incident reporting). – Can be freely downloaded and deployed on one's own server by anyone with the appropriate technical expertise, or used as a free online service hosted by the Ushahidi team and known as Crowdmap. – Mobile apps are available for accessing Ushahidi on smartphones and tablets. – Addressing crowdsourced data quality issues: Visitors of Ushahidi- powered crowdmaps can vote for the credibility of individual reports (thumbs up/down). A crowdmap administrator can also tag individual reports as 'verified' or leave them with the 'unverified' label. Ushahidi has published on its community Web site a 'guide to verification' that gives a brief overview of the considerations to keep in mind when verifying crowdsourced reports. Creating crowdmaps: key underlying technologies and tools
  20. 20. http://crowdmap.com/
  21. 21. • The OGC Open GeoSMS (http://www.opengeospatial.org/ standards/opengeosms) has been developed by ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute, Taiwan) for exchanging location information via the common mobile service, SMS: – Open GeoSMS can be composed with a mobile phone application, by retrieving GPS (Global Positioning System) data and then embedding the geo- location coordinates in an SMS message. – Open GeoSMS can be used in conjunction with Ushahidi. Creating crowdmaps: key underlying technologies and tools Open Geospatial Consortium
  22. 22. ‒ Geo-tagged SMS reports can significantly shorten the processing time for incident reports and possibly save more lives by doing so, depending on the nature of the application, e.g., in emergency and disaster management operations as in Sahana Eden: http://sahanafoundation.org/ products/eden/). ‒ Open GeoSMS can also be used for task assigning and dispatching during disaster management operations.
  23. 23. • Collaborate.org (http://collaborate.org/ - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bGcDOONsMo): – An online community tool and collaboration platform, Collaborate.org offers members access to over 2.2 million geospatial data layers via InteleView, an interactive 3-D geospatial visualiser based on NASA's open source World Wind virtual globe (http://worldwind.arc.nasa.gov/features.html). – According to http://gwob.org/intelesense-technologies/, "InteleView adds authentication and encryption for security, better real-time data integration including alerts, and collaboration tools. Also, unlike World Wind, InteleView is server-based in order to consolidate disparate data into one location". Creating crowdmaps: key underlying technologies and tools The data layer above was used to help determine proximity of hospitals to safe houses during Hurricane Sandy and includes facility information for all US hospitals. N.B. Currently (as at 9/2013) in pre-release phase, with details of pricing and subscription models (free/paid) not yet publicly available.
  24. 24. Conclusions • Crowdmaps illustrate the 'power of the crowds' and the irreplaceable importance of citizen engagement and participation in various distributed health/environmental incident reporting and sensing scenarios, where very large numbers of sampling points (citizens acting as 'sensors' and reporters) and sampling locations (e.g., covering an entire country) are needed to more accurately draw and continuously/instantly update 'the complete picture' of a given situation. • The latter is key to providing the public and decision makers with appropriate 'situational awareness' of the problem(s) at hand, and optimising various management and prevention operations on the ground in real- or near-real-time. Imaged source: Modified from http://www.nvidia.com/docs/IO/113447/fy11-citizenship-report-mfg.png