Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

GPS puts rural African town on map

January 5, 2010

On the map, Kibera, Niarobi is a blank spot. Not any more.

With the help of a global positioning system (GPS), many willing volunteers and a great deal of technical support from the OpenStreetMap team, Kiberia has been charted and documented for all the world to acknowledge online!

The project  was spearheaded by an OpenStreetMap team in collaboration with JumpStart International, and other partners including Jubal Harpster of WhereCampAfrica, the Social Development Network, Pamoja Trust, Hands on Kenya and Carolina for Kibera, according to AllAfricaNews.com.

OpenStreetMap, a project aimed specifically at creating and providing free geographic data such as street maps, is open to any online user. The project, which now has 200,000 users and  is available in 41 languages, began because many maps that are believed to be free actually have legal or technical restrictions for use, according to the company Web site. Contributors to OpenStreetMap take handheld GPS devices with them on journeys, or go out specially to record GPS tracks, according to OSM. Participants record street names, village names and other features using notebooks, digital cameras, and voice-recorders. It is the responsibility of participants to find the funding for the equipment. The maps are  then uploaded on the internet and can be edited by anyone to provide additional information.

OpenStreetMap, based on the German street mapping system created by Mikel Maron, allows users to access the map and add details through a wiki, or public space to add and edit information freely.

The map will point out landmarks such as churches and mosques, schools, businesses, restaurants, the premises of organisations working in the area and government administrative offices, Marion told AllNewsAfrica. He says the project is not aimed at collecting demographic data, but rather consolidating information on public infrastructure.

GPS functionality available in smart phones such as iPhones and Blackberry phones could make it possible to do plan maps. There are even specific applications on the iPhone beyond providing basic directions from starting and ending points. All iPhones also offer: Mappity Quakes, a simple earthquake viewer, Trails, records, exports and imports tracks, and MotionX GPS, maps biking, hiking, sea and skiing trails and could be useful in planning ecotourism spots. 

“With this kind of knowledge it will be possible to speak from an informed point of view regarding planning of the area in terms of infrastructure. For instance we can flag how many health centres are available, where they are and what needs to be added,” Maron explains. 

 

For those interested in joining a work group, donating funding or participating in a creating a street mapping system in your town, visit: http://www.openstreetmaps.org.

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Giving Credit Where it’s Due

November 27, 2008

CEOs of AIG, Citibank and others have much to be thankful for this year. The government has saved their profit margins and secured their savings for their annual sunsoaking trip to Belise in their private jet. Meanwhile, Salvation Army prepares to feed 3,000 people in downtown Detroit this morning alone. I am not a economist but the numbers still leave my eyes burning.

In the last three months, the unemployment rate rose from 6.1 to 6.5 percent with a total increase of unemployed persons now at 10.1 million in the U.S.  Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson syncretic move? He decided to use $200 billion dollars, part of the U.S. government’s 800 B initiative to revive credit markets, to increase credit card limits for the average American.  The idea is certainly to increase spending and jump start the economy, but giving people plastic is the most ridiculous way to help people. There is once again no accountability or forethought given to the great debt this will take the Federal Deficit into! 

When the average weekly earnings of an American working full-time is currently $720 for the third economic quarter, how credit cards turn into anything but lifelong servitude to a laundry list of credit card companies? The Consumer Federation of America and other lobbying agencies are encouraging Congress to include legislation in the bail out package to curb credit card companies from illegally hiking up their interest prices on existing card holders. In the recently passed Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, market transparency and financial oversight of credit card companies will be monitored by the U.S. government.

Will this system work? Will the government be able to help the average American balance their check book? I don’t see how this solution can be anything but a bandaid until the unemployment rate drops and food prices start to decrease.

We need farm aid in order to increase production and lower the prices for basic commodities. Regulation on loans without high interest rates is also needed to generate small business income. And we need an increase in the productivity of projects under the departments of public transportation, water and sanitation which will in turn increase the number of jobs available to Americans. It’s only logical. And that doesn’t an economist to deduct.