<a href="http://www.ashoka.org/story/6458">Mapping Change: Leveraging Google Earth to improve housing and infrastructure</a>


Pratima Joshi, Ashoka Fellow and Founding Member of Shelter Associates, talks about how her organization uses Geographical Information Systems (GIS) mapping to improve slum dwellers’ quality of life.

The Problem: Slums in India often lack basic infrastructure, including clean water supply, sanitation, and proper housing. Due to lack of information, the poorest areas in India are often left out in city planning – which prevents flow of resources to people who need it most. “If you don’t know where almost half your city is, how can you even think of inclusive planning or good governance?” she asked.

The Solution: By using Google Earth, Pratima’s team created a spatially-organized slum directory. They surveyed households for socioeconomic data and mapped out the results on Google Earth images– resulting in valuable information that integrated these neighborhoods in urban planning.

The Impact: Local governments have used to database to lobby for funding, create post-flood resettlement plans, develop wastewater drainage systems, and re-align houses for more equitable access to services. Pratima also showed the maps to residents, demonstrating the benefits of relocation and convincing them to move to better served areas.

The GIS data increases awareness of slum residents as key contributors to the local economy and empowers local governments to better address their needs.

Take a look at how Shelter Associates maps these communities. Entrepreneurs often scramble for technology-related funding, but Pratima found the solution in Google Earth’s free program. Talk about resourcefulness!

See more stories from the Google Earth Heroes Campaign.

Contributed by Mindy Zhang.