Geospatial Workshop Series in Chiapas to increase study skills, geographic awareness and civic engagement
Pitch us on your solution
- It's reported that Latin America ranks second to last of all developing regions in adoption of geospatial technologies. At the same time, geospatial is the 4th ICT4D sector out of 14 that will impact development from now until 2025. Geospatial field is technically demanding, but Latin America's skills gap is the highest worldwide.
- To build the geo-literacy necessary to work in geospatial a workshop program for youth in Chiapas is proposed. The workshops intend to teach geo-concepts, explore the geo-environment and visualize a future geo-scape.
- The program intends to positively change the socioeconomic life of the state and the larger region through increasing the geospatial skills of participants while expanding their geographic awareness. Each day of the workshop functions as a complete module; cumulatively, nascent geodesigners will be formed. Skillsets will grow, bonds between participants will be forged and connections between participants and community members will be cultivated.
Film your elevator pitch
What is the problem you are solving?
The problem to be solved by our solution is geospatial-illiteracy in Chiapas and beyond ...
Geospatial tools are shaping how we interact with our world. The geospatial revolution affects all sectors of society. Organizations and individuals regularly exploit these tools' power. At the same time vast quantities of data generated affect the future of developed and undeveloped landscapes.
In April 2019, Catholic Relief Services/Devex predict geospatial/mapping becoming the 4th most impactful information and communications technology for development (ICT4D) sector between 2020-2025. The sector is technically demanding and it's projected to grow over the same period. The CRS/Devex report is unfortunately pessimistic about adoption in our region: Latin America and the Caribbean rank second to last of all twelve developing regions worldwide, ahead only of Oceania.
The Mexican state of Chiapas with 5.25 million residents (median age 23) illustrates this problem. Lack of access to, literacy in and agency with geospatial tools limits these same residents, particularly its young, from their power to analyze and shape historic, anthropological, ecological, economic, political realities in the geographic sphere. The deficiency is doubly painful because it isn't without remedy.
Who are you serving?
Many young people we aim to reach begin working on the streets before completing secondary school or earlier.
Many young people we aim to reach begin working on the streets before completing secondary school or earlier. They often live at the outskirts of the urban centers of Chiapas, as the move from ancestral villages is intended to improve their opportunities. However, lack of infrastructure and basic services and substandard housing aggravate education. Poor hygiene in these areas is rampant. Current economic circumstance denies access to education, health and decent housing to hundreds of thousands. Ironically, Chiapas is one of the most natural-resource-rich states in the whole of the republic.
Chiapanecos face a profound educational and illiteracy gap. Educational inequality is a reality, decontextualized education compounds this problem, and socioeconomic exclusion results well into adulthood. The National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico (INEGI) reports that Chiapas: has the highest educational deficit nationwide; has the most minors in poverty; is highest in teenage pregnancies nationally. With the aforementioned deficiency in human habitat and the disadvantage in intellectual development opportunities we seek to address the twin dilemmas of environmental and educational deficiency by providing a training that addresses both.
What is your solution?
We propose a workshop series.
Each workshop lasts 3-5 days, is offered to socially and economically vulnerable adolescents from the local area, and will achieve the following: 1. Develop grounding in geospatial concepts , 2. Teach low-tech methods of mapping, recording and analyzing qualitative data, 3. Teach the design of policyand project changes.
The GC Workshop is designed to positively influence the socioeconomic life of San Cristobal de las Casas through increasing the geospatial skills of workshop participants while expanding their geographic awareness at the same time. The main goal is to improve the geographic literacy of adolescents in Chiapas through understanding of geographic concepts, through exploration of their personal geographic environment and through imagining a future landscape/cityscape. The workshop propose will fulfill this goal by achieving the following objectives:
1. Study the basics of mapping, cartography and designation (Representation). This objective will be attained within the classroom. A lecture and a presentation will be given to provide a foundation of knowledge on which to build understanding and to prepare for the following days' activities.
2. Learn the skills of observation and documentation of qualitative and quantitative geographic information (Process, Evaluation). This will be achieved by fieldwork in the landscape. Utilizing custom maps that the students will prepare on web applications and publish in 'fieldbooks', we will gather information as teams in the urban and/or undeveloped landscapes. These will be cataloged and analyzed later in the classroom.
3. Develop design skills through the application of geodesign survey tools (Change). We will discuss the 'Change' model of the geodesign framework: the proposal of policy changes (in the form of laws, codes, regulation or customs) or project changes (built changes in the landscape that can include building projects, engineering projects or even demolition and restoration projects).
While each day of the workshop is a complete module, the cumulative effect will be to form participants into nascent geodesigners. The modules will reflect some of the models outlined in the framework for geodesign developed by Harvard GSD faculty.
The workshop will utilize easily accessible, affordable and sometimes free online tools to illustrate the concepts of geodesign. Fieldwork will be a vital part of the workshop experience. Collected impressions, documented observations and empirical data will be analyzed in the classroom, discussed and processed as art of the evaluation and design stages of the workshop.
Select only the most relevant.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:San Cristobal de las Casas, Chis., Mexico
Our solution's stage of development:
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
Three main points make our workshop solution innovative: 1. We're offering a level of geographic training and literacy that doesn't currently exist; providing it in Chiapas would be unprecedented. 2. We have a spectrum and graded sequencing of the introduction of the different geospatial concepts, skills, and tools that can facilitate resource-poor learning environments but can also eventually capacitate a more sophisticated and resource-demanding educational circumstances if/when they become available later on. The process can grow a deep root into the community and the consciousness and knowledge base of the people of Chiapas and it can spread its roots, widely, horizontally. What this analogy means is that in the case of roots spreading over a wide area, if we encounter an obstacle as we dig down into the ecology of community knowledge and resources, as in the case of lacking funds to purchase devices for participants' use therefore limiting the kinds of methods that we can introduce or not being able to download software because of connectivity issues, we can 'go-wide' by continuing to work with limited, low-technology solutions in order to the essential geospatial concepts. 3. And finally, what makes our solution innovative is our objective to make this knowledge immediately applicable to trainees' immediate environmental and socioeconomic circumstances. Our solution conceives of short-term, expedient objectives as well as long-term, cardinal objectives.
Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?
- It is easy and simple to use
- It is flexible
- It is cost-effective
- It is adaptable
- It is expandable
- It has the quality of generating value
- It is inclusive
- It is leveragable
- It is interchange-promoting
Select the key characteristics of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean your solution serves (or will serve).
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
the current number of people we’re serving
the number we’ll be serving in one year
the number we’ll be serving in five years
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
Within the next year:
- To establish periodic geodesign workshops
- To enlist 20 major partners for a commitment period of 5 years (Civic organizations, NGOs, organized commercial interests, residents' groups, preservation organizations, tourism industry representatives, environmental organizations and experts)
- To cultivate a curated, cataloged database ready for analysis
- To put acccess to said database in the hands of the leadership of 75% of partners
Within the next five years:
- To create a framework that consists of fully developed organizational, operational, financing and public relations components to utilize the continually developing GF database
- To invite stakeholder groups (both from the circle of commited partners and outside of it) to participate in virtual and in-person workshops
- To create a calendar of geodesign workshops that refer to the database in order to generate designs for the future of the Jovel region
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
- We don't have established partnerships
- We haven't begun popularizing the use of the technology in the community at large, nor among stakeholders
- Our materials and publications are largely not translated into the commonly used local language (Spanish) nor amongst the other popular dialects (Ch'ol, Tzozil, Tzeltal, etc.)
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
- RE companies
- H. Ayuntamiento Constitucional
Select an option below:
Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit
If you selected Other for the organization question, please explain here.
We are not currently part of any other organization, but would be open to partnering with any entity that shares our values and encourages our vision.
How many people work on your solution team?
Our team consists of three volunteers:
- Vicky Vergara: Project Advisor
Ms. Vergara is an economist, computer scientist, pgRouting developer, and free software advocate. She's a for Google Summer of Code mentor since 2015 and member of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation board.
- Arturo Moreno: Team leader
Arturo designs for conflict resolution, community and communication. Founder of Moreno Geodesign with projects in Japan, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Mexico.
- Juan Cruz Lopez: Community Development Expert
Juan is a native of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas and a landscape artist for over 17 years. Dedicated to development, he's fluent Spanish and Tzotzil.
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?
We're best-placed because our background in education, geography and community outreach prepares us for the challenges and the insights necessary for the workshop series' success. Between us, there are 16+ years of educational/training experience in literacy, design and technology. We trained adults in the developing world in geospatial tools and communication through via maps to resolve development disputes. 80 workshop participants successfully completed this training. Our translation expertise aids in increasing participation, publicity and support-seeking. A soldi background in geospatial training, including the geodesign framework, geospatial tools, programming, application development, open-source software and in documentation. We've presented past workshops to for-profit, non-profit and governmental groups. Our interfacing with government has spanned from the municipal level of small-scale cities, to the planning departments of metropolises, to agencies of the Federal Government tasked with disaster prevention and environmental protection mandates. In community outreach, we cultivated a volunteer track-record. We have volunteered in community-building, educational projects, disaster relief, development in countries subject to poverty (including active conflict areas). These outreach efforts have included every kind of scale: from the Fukushima-Daichi disaster area, to Baja California to Kabul. Our work in this domain has had an impact on hundreds of people. Therefore, with these core strengths, braided together, we are able to not only deliver this solution, but to shepherd it through subsequent stages of development and growth over the next year, five years and beyond.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
We are working on cultivating relationships with the following organizations and enterprises.
- H. Ayuntamiento Constitucional de San Cristóbal de las Casas
- Centro de Investigaciones Multidisciplinarias sobre Chiapas y la Frontera Sur [UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexíco)]
- Colegio de Arquitectos Chiapanecos A.C.
- Correos de Mexico
- Banco Azteca
- Arquidiócesis de Tuxtla
What is your business model?
Our business model follows the "service subsidization" template.
Our main business is providing geodesign services to private developers, local/state governments, NPOs and NGOs and other public and private entities. It is in the interest of our geodesign services consultancy to promote the geodesign framework model given the optimum conditions for the models' successful implementation: broad and diverse participation. Nearly every geodesign exercise and workshop involves training participants in the model. Even veteran geodesigners and geodesign project participants spend time learning from subject matter experts and stakeholders from other groups. Therefore, training members of the public, including the younger members of our community aligns with the mission of our consultancy.
Our model is mostly aligned with the points below:
- Sells products or services to an external market to help fund other social programs. This model is integrated with the non-profit organization; the business activities and social programs overlap.
- Consulting, counseling, employment training, leasing, printing services, and so forth
- Can leverage tangible assets (buildings, land, employees) or intangible (expertise, methodologies, or relationships)
User value proposition:
Tools like 'Google Maps', 'Waze' and 'OpenStreetMaps' usefully offer compiled geoinformation. What they don't do is give their users voice to affect change in your landscape. We do.
The segments of the society who we intend to benefit through the sharing of our workshops are:
- Economically disadvantaged communities
- The institutions that serve the above
Our project will require the following resources:
- A data plan (storage)
What is your path to financial sustainability?
10% Private enterprises
Why are you applying to the TPrize Challenge?
Frankly, my to-do list includes a business plan. I have contributed some effort, but I haven't committed to a sustained process assembling the components of the plan together, i.e. the Executive Summary, Company Overview, and the Financial Plan (most intimidating). The audience is similarly intimidating, which may account for my procrastination on this to-do item.
Finding support I could easily follow to draft it was difficult. When a friend applied to a different SOLVE challenge, I took note of the marketplace. Name-recognition impelled me to investigate further SOLVE challenges. Impulsively, I decided to submit my application after putting a project together. I then learned how in-depth the solutions in the marketplace would have to be. At the same time, I had stumbled upon just the right environment to stimulate my own efforts and thinking to clearly define what my project is and what it intends to do. The clarity and simplicity of the process on the SOLVE website has really been an aid.
What has been even more helpful is the public nature of the submissions. By being able to read other submissions, I can learn how to better my own. This has also been a catalyst to refine my offering, as it is obvious that some of the projects are formidable and many are already well-accomplished. If I work up the courage and find the time, I'd like to reach out to some of the other applicants with whom the GeoChiapas has commonality.
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
If you selected Other, please explain here.
[Other isn't even an option]
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?