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Make a Map!: GIS Lite & Quick Map Tools: Participatory Mapping

Free tools to make maps from data you have created or found.

What is Participatory Mapping?

Participatory Mapping can take several forms including the use of crowdsourcing to gather information about an event or a place.  Alternatively, participatory mapping may actively educate and engage local people who may be without access to technology or otherwise unable to take part in planning for change.  Crisis response - to natural or humanitarian disasters - have been among the high profile examples of participatory mapping.

Examples include:

  • Blight Status
    Crowdsourcing to address urban blight in New Orleans
  • Typhoon Haiyan
    Crowdsourcing was used to document the extent of the devastation.
  • Aboriginal Mapping Network
    Established in 1998 in Canada to build knowledge, skill, and resources, this organization now supports aboriginal and indigenous peoples worldwide with issues such as land claims, treaty negotiations and resource development using tools that include traditional use studies, GIS mapping and other information systems.
  • ERMIS Africa
    Based in Kenya, works with local communities, indigenous peoples and schools to promote environmental conservation and management.  Mapping is one of many tools and strategies.


Participatory Mapping Sites

  • Did You Feel It?
    View maps of recent earthquakes anywhere in the world or report one that you felt.  From the U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Google Crisis Map  |   FAQ
    "...a mashup tool built on the familiar Google Maps API, aims to put critical disaster-related geographic data in context, and in a map-based viewing frame optimized for usability across a range of browsers and mobile devices."
  • Open Forum on Participatory Geographic Information Systems and Technologies (
    Four discussion lists (in English, Spanish, French, and Brazilian) about using geospatial information technologies for crisis management, participatory development, sustainable natural resource management and customary property rights in developing countries and among indigenous peoples worldwide.  The site also links to a variety of tools and resources.
  • Open Street Map
    "OpenStreetMap is built by a community of mappers that contribute and maintain data about roads, trails, cafés, railway stations, and much more, all over the world."
  • Ushahidi
    Collect information from multiple locations using SMS, email, twitter or the web.  Visualize and map data.