Wheelmap Helps People Find Accessible Locations

Navigating the world can be challenging for able-bodied people, those in wheelchairs have it even harder. It doesn’t have to be this way. New buildings have to meet certain accessibility requirements which means that visiting places will only get easier for everyone. There are still places that don’t have good accessibility and for that there’s Wheelmap.

Wheelmap is a community sourced map that shows what places are accessible and even goes into fine details with pictures of the place including the accessibility of interior facilities.

Wheelchairs, elevators and ramps allow people with mobility impairments to get around independently to a great extent. But frequently the last meters decide whether the trip to the cinema, beer garden or supermarket was worth the effort. Just one step at the entrance can be an insurmountable obstacle.

And this is where Wheelmap comes into play: Users provide information for other users on how accessible a location is. Thereby, the map contributes to an active and diversified lifestyle for wheelchair users. People with wheeled walkers or buggies benefit from this tool as well.

Furthermore, the aim of Wheelmap is to make owners of wheelchair-inaccessible public places aware of the problem. They should be encouraged to reflect on and improve the accessibility of their premises.

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The Importance of Mapping Fossil Fuel Companies

industry

The Corporate Mapping Project in Canada tries to connect the dots between corporations, organizations, and governmental bodies in regards to the oil and gas industry. Despite all evidence that the tar sands are horrible for the planet the Canadian taxpayer continues to subsidize the fossil fuel industry. Why?

That the answer the mapping project looks to help investigate. By showing the connections between corporate and political players we can expose anything from sketchy polices to blatant corruption. This project is great for researchers and economist trying to understand why Canada props up a dying (and lethal) industry.

You can see their list of the top 50 companies in terms of power and influence in Canada’s oil and gas industry.

We focus on “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan. We will also map the wider connections that link Western Canada’s fossil fuel sector to other sectors of the economy (both national and global) and to other parts of society (governments and other public institutions, think tanks and lobby groups, etc).

Our mapping efforts are focused in four key areas:

  1. How are the people and companies that control fossil-fuel corporations organized as a network, and how does that network connect with other sectors of the Canadian and global economy? That is, how is economic power organized in and around the fossil-fuel sector?

  2. How does that economic power reach into political and cultural life, through elite networks, funding relationships, lobbying and mass-media advertising and messaging? What are the implications of such corporate influence for politics and society?

  3. How is corporate power wielded at ground level, from fossil-fuel extraction and transport right through to final consumption? If we follow a barrel of bitumen from its source to the end user, how does it affect the communities and environments all along the way? How and why do certain links along these commodity chains become flashpoints of intense political struggle, as we have seen particularly with pipeline projects?

  4. How can we build capacity for citizen monitoring of corporate power and influence, while expanding the space for democratic discussion?

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A Map to find Organizations Fighting Climate Change

tree with climate knowledge

Climatescape is a new web-based database to help you find organizations around that world that are trying to save the planet from environmental destruction. It can be hard to find groups on the other side of the world to partner with, or just to find a local organization that is also interested in your goals. Climatescape is trying to make it easier and faster for people to make the world a better place.

The creator mentioned on Hacker News that they are looking for more support in all sorts of ways:

I made Climatescape after seeing dozens of people go through a similar process of cataloging interesting climate-focused companies in spreadsheets, notes, and elsewhere. The goal is to unify these efforts and provide the content free to anyone who might find it useful. The website is open source[1] and content is Creative Commons licensed.

This is really just the beginning of what I’d like to see the project become. We want to go deeper by including key org attributes like headcount, location, investments, and more. There are also plans to increase the breadth of the database by including books, podcasts, events, data sets, and other important resources related to climate.

If anyone is interested in contributing please get in touch! brendan [at] sinceresoftware.co

Check it out!

Canada and Global Fishing Watch Trying to Save the Oceans

Collision 2019 - Day One
21 May 2019; Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist, National Geographic, left, with, Andrew Sharpless, CEO, Oceanaon centre and Sean Casey, Parliamentary Secretary, Government of Canada, on Planet : Tech Stage during day one of Collision 2019 at Enercare Center in Toronto, Canada. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Collision via Sportsfile

Our oceans are vital to our existence and nobody knows that better than Andrew Sharpless of Oceana. He and Sean Casey the Parliamentary Secretary were on stage at the Collision Conference presenting their efforts on saving the worlds oceans. Canada has gone from protecting only 1% of its coast line to 10% in less than a decade, hopefully this will continue. Our coasts are great spaces for marine life to lay eggs and eat.

The key takeaway from the panel was the really cool global fishing map which tracks the location of every fishing vessel on the planet! The ships are tracked using regional Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), so the some of the data might not be accessible depending on which countries abide by the standard broadcasting rules.

Tracking the ships helps governments and NGOs enforce rules and regulations. Casey pointed out that tracking the ships will also help with identifying the polluters who drop their nets (accidentally) and leave them to drift (most of the plastic waste in the oceans comes from fishing activity).

Just a decade ago, building an accurate picture of the commercial fishing across the globe would have been impossible. Today, thanks to advances in satellite technology, cloud computing and machine learning, Global Fishing Watch is making it a reality.

Help Those in Need by Mapping

Google Maps, Apple Maps, Mapquest, and other American-made mapping solutions work really well in developed regions where there are lots of businesses, however, outside those ares their maps lack quality. Rural parts of countries around the world don’t have the detail of urban centres when it comes to things like building locations and paths. This is particular true in the developing world.

Open Street Map (OSM) is better in the majority world and now it’s easier than ever to help the world get mapped. Using their online editing tool you can help poorer parts of the planet get the maps they need. Why are maps so important? It helps emergency workers respond effectively after a disaster and to help OSM be more useful coders have created the HOT Tasking Manager.

You can spend five minutes of your coffee break helping others from your computer.

The Tasking Manager is a mapping tool designed and built for the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team’s collaborative mapping process in OpenStreetMap. The purpose of the tool is to divide up a mapping project into smaller tasks that can be completed rapidly with many people working on the same overall area. It shows which areas need to be mapped and which areas need the mapping validated.

This approach allows the distribution of tasks to many individual mappers in the context of emergency or other humanitarian mapping scenario. It also allows monitoring of the overall project progress and helps improve the consistency of the mapping (e.g., elements to cover, specific tags to use, etc.).

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