There is little accurate data about cities in Africa and a few effective methods to collect the same. Take Nairobi for example. Nairobi’s population has increased more than tenfold in the last 50 years. This rapid urbanization brought with it a two-tier development process where some areas are rapidly modernizing while others lag behind. Due to the speed with which the city is developing, there’s no easy way to understand and determine which areas are over- or underserved; there’s no easy way for people to share immediate experiences about neighborhoods.
Many data collection initiatives/tools that do exist are extractive and information rarely stays with the people. People are often cut out of the decision-making process, from determining what data points are collected to what happens with the data itself, and because of that, people don’t have access to data that is important to them. The failure to include the communities doesn’t just impact them negatively; it also reduces the accuracy of the data and knowledge about a place.
At Spatial Collective, we have been working on a platform that enables people to express their perceptions about a place through location, topic, and emotion. The spatial location means they can contribute information precisely in the area they are in. The topic section allows them to name or select which issue in particular matters to them. The emotion section allows them to say how they feel about the selected issue using their emotions with provision for further explanation. The platform does not dictate what is important about a place; the people will tell us.
Below are some preliminary results from Kibera.
The map above shows approximately one hundred perceptions from about half a dozen citizens of a small village in Kibera. The colors in the red specter are showing more negative perceptions/issues/feelings while the colors in the blue specter more positive.
Further, the map below displays a message touching on security at a specific open space inside the village.
Not everything needs to be negative. The next map below displays only positive perceptions of the people about a specific place in the village in Kibera.
Finally, when we aggregate the data, we see the density of perceptions in each area of the village.
We are in the midst of platform development so more coming up soon.