AGS awards seven Ethical GEO Fellowships

The American Geographical Society has announced the award of the first seven Ethical GEO Fellowships. I was honored to be selected as one of the seven Fellows. The American Geographical Society (AGS) is dedicated to the advancement of geographic thinking, knowledge, and understanding across business, government, academe, social sectors, and most importantly with teachers and students. Established in 1851, AGS is the oldest professional geographical organization in the United States.

The AGS Ethical GEO Fellowship Program, in its first year and underwritten by Omidyar Network, solicited videos from across North America and was open to anyone with an interest in exploring the ethical issues involved with the use of geospatial tools and technology. Applicants were instructed to submit a three-minute video explaining their “big idea” or project to address ethics and the use of geospatial tools and technology.

In announcing the 2019 Fellowship winners, Dr. John Konarski, Chief Executive Officer of AGS stated…

“Ethical issues related to the use of geo technology have captured the interest of the media, geo practitioners and everyday citizens. All of us use this technology on a daily basis…be it to find a location using our phones, analyse data in our jobs, or better understand leading headlines in the media. Our use of this technology and data raises serious ethical questions…privacy, ownership of data, use of data…this list is long and growing. We are very pleased to have this first group of EthicalGEO Fellows lead the way to help us make better decisions as we rely more and more on geospatial tools and data to live our lives.”

Who are the first cohort of Ethical GEO Fellows and what are the projects that they will pursue? These are the Fellows with links to their proposal videos:

Mr. William Evans, Project Manager for Humanitarian OpenStreetMap based in Charlottesville, Virginia: Land Rights for Informal Settlements, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A pilot project in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania using a dual frequency GPS sensor to create highly accurate surveys in an informal settlement. This will empower a local community in Tanzania, but also could be a pathway for people around the world without legal titles to their land.

Dr. Alfredo Giron Nava, Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the Future Earth & National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara: A global map of poverty in fishing communities. A project for the creation of the first global map on the prevalence of poverty in fishing communities.

Ms. Erica Hagen, Co-Founder and Board Member of Map Kibera Trust based in Washington D.C.: Whose map is it? Mapping for All. A project to publish guidelines around ethics of mapping, with a focus on global communities who traditionally have had less access to maps and mapping tools.

Dr. David Padgett, Associate Professor of Geography and Director of the Geographic Information Sciences Laboratory at Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee: Democratizing Geospatial Technology: A Model for Providing Technical Assistance in Community Based Participatory Mapping to Environmental Justice Stakeholder Communities. A project to create a tutorial model in support of grassroots organizations’ efforts to use geospatial technology for community empowerment.

Rev. Michael Rozier, Assistant Professor at the Department of Health Management and Policy, Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri: In a World of Data, Who am I? A project to gather public opinion on the use and misuse of geolocation data that reveals information about our health and health behaviors.

Dr. Dara Seidl, Independent Researcher and recent Ph.D. graduate of the joint doctoral program between San Diego State University and UC Santa Barbara based in San Luis Obispo, California: Geoprivacy Video Toolbox for Educators. She will use her grant to develop a video toolbox for educators to teach geo-privacy in high school and college classrooms.

Mr. Greg Babinski, Marketing and Business Development Manager at the King County Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center in Seattle, Washington: Best Practices for using GIS for Issues of Equity and Social Justice. I will use this grant to pursue the development of best practices for using GIS for issues related to equity and social justice (ESJ). I will be providing more information about my project to develop GIS for ESJ Best Practices in future GIS and You articles. Feel free to contact me (greg.babinski@kingcounty.gov) if you are interested in assisting this effort.

The seven Ethical GEO fellows will be meeting in New York City next week and also participating in the AGS 2019 Fall Symposium at Columbia University: Geography 2050 – Borders and a Borderless World.

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