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Map Your World is a multi-platform project that puts the power of new technologies into the hands of young change agents, enabling them to map, track, and improve the health of their own communities – and then share their stories of change with each other and with the world.
Developed at the BAVC Producer's Institute for New Technologies, Map Your World was inspired by the feature documentary The Revolutionary Optimists, which follows “The Daredevils,” a group of youth in one of Calcutta’s most notorious squatter’s colonies, who have made a dramatic improvement in the health of their community, a place that cannot even be found on the map. The Daredevils undertook to make their own map of their colony, and have been painstakingly tracking and collecting data around health issues that impact them – water, sanitation, and infectious diseases. In ten years, they have made dramatic improvement in their area: they’ve turned a trash dump into a soccer field, lobbied for electricity, and decreased diarrhea and malaria rates in their neighborhood.
Map Your World proposes to add technology to this equation, with what we anticipate would be dramatic results. Using cell phones, youth can upload data at the moment of collection into a database that would be linked to a digital online community map. The project leverages existing, proven technology, integrating Google maps, SMS texting, and a database system modeled after ChildCount, a program of the Millennium Villages project. We are partnering with Matt Berg of ChildCount for the development and implementation of this project.
The possibilities are endless and exciting: using Map Your World, the youth can accurately track each child born in their colony, and record bi-weekly updates about vaccination statistics by sending an sms text from their cell phone directly to a database. Map Your Worldautomatically links this data to a map, hand drawn by the children, that is overlaid to actual GPS coordinates. The “live” online map will show them which children need polio vaccination each month, and where those children live, so they can target their outreach campaigns and make sure those children get to the polio booth. Doing this by hand, the children have brought polio vaccination rates from 40-80% - with Map Your World, we believe they have the power to bring it to 100%! And Map Your World would allow them to easily print out evidence of the impact they had made.
We are currently building a prototype of the Map Your World technology and website in Calcutta and are developing partnerships with several U.S.-based organizations to use the technology to track everything from unclean public school bathrooms to diabetes incidence. There are already youth in every country -from Africa to Detroit – engaged in community development work and community mapping around public health issues. But until now, they have not had access to this kind of technology, nor have they had a forum where they can share success stories, strategize together about common challenges, and discuss the public health issues that are of particular concern to youth.