Democratizing Geospatial Technology for Environmental Justice Stakeholders

Authors: David Padgett*, Tennessee State University
Topics: Black Geographies, Environmental Justice, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Environmental Justice, Geographic Information Systems, Black Geographies
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 20
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This project, funded by the American Geographical Society EthicalGEO Program, has as its primary goal, making the geospatial technology learning curve less steep for environmental justice stakeholders. A second goal is to eliminate
environmental justice community members’ need for outside technical assistance. A third goal, but no less important, is for communities to own their spatial data sets, as opposed to relying entirely upon outside support. Six case studies illustrate how grassroots organizers, with training in basic cartography and geospatial technology applications, have been empowered to effectively use GIS to fight against gentrification, develop flood mitigation plans, and curtail a potentially destructive highway project. One historically significantly Black community in Mississippi is using maps as evidence in support of legal action versus a large proposed government construction project that may potentially degrade their quality of life and health. A community based organization in Houston, Texas is using GIS to place air quality monitors to determine their levels of exposure to toxic air releases. The examples set by the novel GIS users in these case studies will result in a replicable model for others wishing to utilize geospatial technology to leverage their arguments in the fight against locally undesirable land uses and environmental injustice.

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