Posted 5 October, 2012 by Susannah Vila

Collaboration on Crowdsourced Mapping in Venezuela

This post was originally published at Global Voices Online

There are bound to be a lot of people Tweeting, Facebook updating and texting about the presidential election in Venezuela this weekend -and many will be using social media to share reports of violence or misconduct. A few enterprising citizens have set up systems to catch and save these reports.

Unlike in the last Venezuelan election, they are collaborating to avoid duplicating efforts. In 2010 (the parliamentary elections), at least 5 Ushahidi maps were separately deployed with little to no coordination of data.

From eleccionciudadana.comIndividuals who lamented this situation decided to create one “catch-all” map this time around. Called Elección Ciudadana [es], it is receiving information from a network of civil society organizations, journalists and youth activists. Some of these also have their own maps, such as Testigo Digital [es], which focuses exclusively on visualizing political violence.

One benefit of coordinating data in this way is that if a citizen only knows about a certain project and therefore only shares a report with one particular map, it will still appear on the central hub.

Individuals who were involved in the efforts around the 2010 elections, and have signed on to collaborate this season, have been Tweeting about the development:

Dale Poder a tu Voto (@tu_voto): Este año apostamos a apoyar al 100% a un esfuerzo de la sociedad civil por unir los distintos mapas electorales

Dale Poder a tu Voto (@tu_voto): This year we put 100% of our support on an effort by civil society to unite different election maps

Luis Carlos Díaz (@LuisCarlos): Si están interesados en el crowdsourcing, aquí hay otra plataforma para las elecciones

Luis Carlos Díaz (@LuisCarlos): If you’re interested in crowdsourcing here’s another platform for the elections

The way in which different groups have come together to channel citizen participation may mark a positive step forward in citizen driven initiatives for electoral transparency. There are, however, still plenty of challenges left to overcome. For instance, this effort came together only a few weeks before Sunday’s election, which left little time to get the word out about the site or to concretize a system for the verification of reports coming from unknown or untrusted sources.

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