December 2, 2020
Samantha King’s article “GIS as a bridge across the digital divide: Engaging participatory methods to build capacity in research communities” won an award from the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology. It received first runner up for the Student Achievement Award for best original research in any applied context. The honor comes with a $300 prize.
The article details a collaborative project Samantha implemented with stakeholders in Dominica to build local capacity in geospatial technologies. Participants in this project learned how to collect and record spatial data and make digital maps using free GIS technology. The article will be published in the forthcoming edition of Practicing Anthropology (Issue 43, Volume 1) as a part of a themed section on Participatory Mapping organized by Colin Thor West. Samantha would like to recognize Dr. West or his excellent mentoring in helping her prepare her article for publication. Additional information on Samantha’s GIS work is available on her website, at: http://samanthaking.me/geospatial-analysis
GIS as a bridge across the digital divide: Engaging participatory methods to build capacity in research communities
- Samantha King
While access to information-communication technology (ICT) infrastructure such as smartphones and GIS web applications has steadily increased in many middle- and upper-income regions of the world, the use and impacts of these resources often remain limited by lack of exposure and training. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted under disaster recovery conditions in Dominica, this article describes how the process of spatial data collection can be leveraged to help bridge this specific type of digital divide. Incorporating participatory elements into a research design can enable the transfer of valuable GIS skills and knowledge to local practitioners. These new capabilities can then be mobilized to address community problems. Results indicate that this approach has the potential to amplify the power of GIS data by making it more accessible, useable, and impactful to the local communities who participate in research.