Enable: Using Data to Connect Citizens in New Ways

A Filipino story as told by MapPH Founder and Managing Director, Celina Agaton.

“I believe we’re at the intersection of creating a new economy where makers, farmers, and citizens can support each other based on the shared values of inclusion, dignity, and development that includes social and environmental benefits. Internet and mapping tools can help create a sense of stewardship by empowering citizens and institutions to connect together in new ways to make more informed decisions about our communities.

A large focus of our work extends beyond mapping and into connecting progressive partners to help create sustainable and inclusive economic development opportunities. Our greatest priority is food security, where most communities have little to no access to safe, affordable nutrition near their home. Climate change and poverty amplify these challenges.

With tourism and agriculture as our main local economic drivers, we’re working to map tourism sites to highlight our many hidden gems. We’re prototyping ethical supply chains, testing climate change-resilient and premium crops and products for local and international markets that make purchasing decisions based on value and not just price. Our unique heritage and heirloom products can help provide sustainable livelihoods for indigenous and marginalized communities, but trying to compete in markets that demand lower prices hurts our communities so we’re helping create new markets.

We need the social infrastructure to empower local communities for the long term, knowing that the revolving door of international aid agencies and consultants exist on short-term cycles.

By developing MapPH in the Philippines, I hope to help strengthen our resilience when politics, emergencies, and trends shift or delay initiatives. Communities’ needs change every day. As long as we can validate good data and establish local community relationships, maps can help visualize priorities and opportunities across government, business, NGO and academic sectors. Business development planning can benefit from understanding disaster risk; social development planning can benefit from understanding the overlaps and gaps in program delivery in high-risk communities.

It’s these intersecting layers of data that help represent our complex realities. One seemingly small decision can have a multitude of impacts.”

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