You are here: Home / News & Media / Techies mapping change

Techies mapping change

by Radha Rao last modified Apr 04, 2011 06:51 AM
A group of 40 Bangaloreans, including techies and social activists, are creating digital maps that will be used to bring social change in India - an article in the Bangalore Mirror by Renuka Phadnis - Monday, December 07, 2009.

Here is an example of how technology can be misused and used. A year ago, following the Mumbai blasts, everyone was talking about how terrorists had misused information from Google maps. Now, a group of 40 people in Bangalore including activists and techies, are creating digital maps that will be used to bring social change in India.

Called “Maps for Making Change” the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, a social organisation that studies the connection between the Internet and society, and the NGO Tactical Tech Collective (Bangalore and UK) are creating a map of India that will show hotspots where social change can be brought about.

Individuals working with groups and organisations working for social change across India, including grassroots activists, NGO workers, artists and researchers, sent in 70 high quality and detailed additions to the digital map. These places across India highlighted issues such as: the socio-economic aspects and consequences of the construction of Bangalore’s Metro, fighting for clean rivers, people’s rights to livelihoods in the Himalayas, monitoring the national implementation of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005), mobilising slum dwellers to engage with Mumbai’s new Development Plan, human rights violations in Kashmir, identifying land where internally displaced people can be resettled in the North East.

“You don’t have to be a professional cartographer. With new technologies such as GPS and the Net, anyone can easily add to digital maps,” says Dr Anja Kovacs, fellow, Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore.

Bangalore Angle

In a city like Bangalore, the potential of using digital maps is tremendous. For instance, such maps could be used to show which Metro routes and stations Bangaloreans want. Or, it could show how BBMP’s reserved wards are delineated (example, the population profile in Bellandur or Girinagar). The maps could tell us where migrant labour (masons, carpenters, plumbers) enter the city, where they live and where they move on (information that could be useful for Unique Identification Authority of India too!). It can also show where marginalised people live in Bangalore in slums, along railway tracks, by the lakes.

Says Bangalorean techie B V Pradeep, who provided technical support to the map team, “In a map, every person draws what is important to him. One person may draw a mall, another may mark the school and hospital. This map will give visibility to invisible people.”

Bangalorean Rekha Shenoy, who has been involved in rehabilitating earthquake-affected people in Kutch for the past eight years, says, “Such digital maps are a good resource of marking places and social issues that other people know nothing of.”

Any one can access Maps for Making Change. See email list ( The wiki will be up and running in a few days time (, said Dr Kovacs. To follow on Twitter, use the hash tag #maps4change.

Link to the original article

Filed under:
ASPI-CIS Partnership


Donate to support our works.


In Flux: a technology and policy podcast by the Centre for Internet and Society