Cartography of inequality
Organisation: OjoPúblico, Espacio y Análisis
Organisation size: Big
Publication date: 07/03/2021
Credit: Gianfranco Huamán, Aramís Castro, Tarik Tavera, María del Carmen Escobedo, Cristóbal Seoane, Daniel Montes.
OjoPúblico is a peruvian based media organisation that aims for investigative journalism. We have always been looking for innovation in the newsroom and believe that collaborative work is a rich experience because it allows us to share ideas and firsthand knowledge about how other people are proposing solutions to improve journalism (reporting and storytelling) with new technologies.
Espacio y análisis is a collective of geographers of socio-environmental studies for urban and regional planning for purpose to development cities and rural in Peru
Restrictions during the pandemic were unfair for many people in Lima, capital city of Perú. In order to protect mental health because of the lockdown, the government allowed people to go out for a few minutes and do some exercise and catch fresh air. However, just a few had this privilege. Lima is a city with inequality, where many districts have small quantities of parks and green areas, or not at all. For this reason we wanted to show these problems that have been around for a long time but that the pandemic emphasized.
We simplified the technical language and maps produced by the government, in order to show it in a simple and intuitive way. This contribution allowed to reduce the gaps in access to technical and scientific knowledge, letting a lot of people be aware of the public places of recreation that they may or may not have access to. This kind of work was never done by a private or public organization, so many people asked us to provide the data so they can do their own research and enrich the analysis, sharing with their colleagues or students.
We used geographic information systems (Qgis) in order to analyze, validate and produce maps about the distribution of recreational areas in Lima, Perú. After this process, we could see the contrast in nearby districts determined by its socioeconomic level. First, we had to clean and join different databases using tools like R and Rstudio and satellite images to check if the geographical data and records provided by the government was actually correct. Collaboration was a key factor in this project so we also used google sheets to share some samples of the work in progress. Once the analysis was finished, we used tools like open street maps and mapbox in order to share our findings on the web. Moreover, we developed a custom page for the project with an interactive searcher where people can choose their neighborhood they are living in and see how their district is doing regarding recreation areas.
What was the hardest part of this project?
When we looked at the geographical data that the government provided we realized that they had a different idea of “public spaces”. In a way, It was dirty data that we couldn’t work right away, so we used satellital images to validate and revise multiples categories like parks, squares, groves, sport slab, among others, and integrate them in the concept of “recreational area”, which means free and public spaces with the capacity of doing outdoor recreational activities. By doing this, the issue with the official data provided by the government was solved and was well received by public institutions and civil organizations (academy, neighbors) because of its contribution to the study of public spaces.
What can others learn from this project?
Interdisciplinary work is one the most rewarded kind of projects, in terms of production and learning for a journalist. It allows us to explore other perspectives in order to get a better approach to a topic or a problem. This mindset and collaboration is something that OjoPúblico is trying to do more often.