GIS in New Orleans

I intern at the Beacon of Hope Resource Center which is based in New Orleans. Beacon of Hope attempts to help with community issues. The mission has been changing to fit the needs of the neighborhoods. In the beginning days of Beacon of Hope, the problems were mostly construction related, now, six years after the storm, there is a little less action being taken in terms of helping people fix their homes. Now, it is more about fixing the communities. The main neighborhood that Beacon of Hope works with is Gentilly. In the Beacon neighborhoods, everything from tracking blighted homes and assisting the elderly with their homes, to planning community fundraising events and surveying neighborhoods is done.

Most specific to Beacon of Hope is their mapping capabilities. During class on Thursday, the maps that we were creating reminded me of what I do at the Beacon of Hope. I worked with Beacon of Hope to help them, and the Ninth Ward community, conduct field research in the Lower Ninth Ward using an ArcGIS surveying app. This survey was both for outreach and information purposes. The data collected is a source of information that reveals important information for people and businesses looking to move back to New Orleans and the government. For this event, I we had 20 iPhone owning volunteers for a full day of surveying. Collectively, we entered relevant information pertaining to hundreds of homes and lots. As we have seen there are many ways we use GIS in New Orleans and it very important for us as development majors to understand uses of GIS.

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2 responses to “GIS in New Orleans

  • AmeliaConrad

    This is really cool! Since New Orleans is such a “third world country,” it’s fascinating how they’ve employed ICT4D here as well. Did you (or the organization) use ICT any differently post-Isaac? Did the mapping and things that had been done since Katrina facilitate recovery? I know you were working in LaPlace, which had been hard hit by Isaac; had that area been mapped?

  • hpohnan

    GIS projects like this are really fascinating. It’s interesting that you deployed a team of smart phone-equipped volunteers. We’ve talked about hundreds of different uses for mobile phones, but it never occurred to me that they would be extremely useful in data collection.

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