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Towards inclusive GIS in the Congo Basin: an exploration of digital map creation and an evaluation of map understanding by non-literate hunter-gatherers

Altenbuchner, J; (2018) Towards inclusive GIS in the Congo Basin: an exploration of digital map creation and an evaluation of map understanding by non-literate hunter-gatherers. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Sustainable and socially just natural resource management is one of the fundamental development challenges humanity is facing today. Communities living in remote areas possess unique insights about their natural resources. While this knowledge is critical to climate change, it is difficult for them to engage in environmental protection. Geographic Information Science (GIS) plays a central role in resource management, as it is utilised in spatial decision making processes. However, the literature argues that its use is too challenging for marginalised communities. Working with indigenous hunter-gatherers in the Congo Basin without prior exposure to technology or maps, this research moves towards enabling them to become active stakeholders in decision making so that they understand how to capture environmental knowledge and gain power through ownership. (Participatory) GIS, Human Computer Interaction, Action Research and Citizen Science concepts are adapted to the local context to address the lack of mapping of these areas, and the increased understanding of if and how digital, high resolution orthographic maps incorporated in digital mapping tools can be understood by people with no prior exposure to maps and technology. Different set-ups of low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and consumer grade cameras were tested and evaluated for suitability to generate high-resolution maps in-situ for previously unmapped and disconnected contexts. Applying a computer log analysis approach to overcome local obstacles, three experiments were carried out to test whether the resulting aerial orthophotos are understood as a representation of familiar geographical landscapes. For each of the experiments, a bespoke app functioning without an internet connection was developed. The research shows that the majority of the 136 participants could find as well as edit known features on the map and all participating groups were able to utilise a map for a Treasure Hunt game. Additionally, a number of methodological amendments are proposed to allow standardised research methods to be applied in a context where usability experiments are significantly challenged.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Towards inclusive GIS in the Congo Basin: an exploration of digital map creation and an evaluation of map understanding by non-literate hunter-gatherers
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Personal identifiers have been removed from ethesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10047142
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