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Data Privacy: Legal Landscape in the United States

The issue of data privacy is not a twenty-first century concept: it is a debate that goes back more than a century. In an increasingly interconnected world with rapidly developing technology, it is important to take a step back and realize what is happening with the information we provide when we type on a keyboard …

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The Practical Application of the GIS Code of Ethics – A Case Study

For those who live in the Seattle area or for those who visit Seattle, SeaTac is a curious name but also the most frequent gateway to the Pacific Northwest. A few years ago it was also the location of an interesting case in the practical application of the GIS Code of Ethics. The ethical use …

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ICE under Fire

Buying and selling personal location data isn’t new. We know that when we open Google Maps, order an Uber, or check the weather, someone, somewhere, probably knows about it. Using these apps has become an integral part of operating in the modern age; we take advantage of them because they are widely available, and they …

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Introducing the Benchmark Initiative

While the American Geographical Society (AGS) is based in New York City, the EthicalGEO Initiative is international in scope. Given the global reach of GeoTech and GeoData, it is no surprise that a related conversation about the ethical implications of its utilization is taking place across the pond.  Launched earlier this year, the Benchmark Initiative …

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Whose Map is it? Mapping for all.

I’m happy to have been selected as an EthicalGEO fellow by the American Geographical Society. I will be working on developing guidelines for mapping with vulnerable populations, and I am looking for those interested in and working on this topic to get in touch with me! I recently spent the summer in Nairobi, looking back …

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Democratizing Geospatial Technology

This “Democratizing Geospatial Technology Project,” funded by the EthicalGEO Fellowship program, has as its central vision, that environmental justice stakeholders themselves are best equipped to produce spatial data visualizations of their communities.  The primary goal is the development of a community-based participatory mapping tutorial model, that can be replicated for use by grassroots organizations employing …

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A global map of poverty in fishing communities

In 2014 when I started my Ph.D. at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, I was convinced that many of the fisheries sustainability issues that we face today could be addressed with technical solutions. I thought we needed more data on fish growth and reproduction, a better understanding of how environmental variability affects fish populations, and better …

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Immigrants and Refugees as Geographers

Who is a geographer? What are the competencies necessary to practice geography? The impact of geography on our lives is so powerful and pervasive, that often we do not think about the geographic decisions that we make every day in our personal lives. ‘Hmmm…I’d like another beer, but first I want to finish watching this …

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Let’s talk about sharing ocean data for the greater good

In 2015, the oceans made an unexpected appearance into the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) 21. What would be later known as the Paris Agreement, was paramount in recognizing the role that the oceans play in regulating our climate system and for the economies …

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Geospatial Data in Authoritarian Contexts

Ethical issues in geography mean very different things across different contexts. I tend to think of them from an international perspective, and in particular from the perspective of developing, nondemocratic countries. One of the most challenging questions I received when starting my own EthicalGEO project was, “What is the point of using new geospatial technology …

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How Location is Tracked During Protests

After protesters gathered in at least 140 cities across the country in response to the murder of George Floyd on May 25, many activists began calling attention to the privacy risks to demostrators posed by location tracking technologies in the current surveillance age. Mobile location tracking techniques designed to monitor the spread of COVID-19 were …

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Do You Ever Mask Your Location?

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on Michael Rozier’s post, Bad Data Always Leads to Bad Ethics, where he underscores the importance of quality data for shaping public policy in response to COVID-19. To repeat the adage: garbage in, garbage out. In the context of testing and infection rates, Michael brings up a great question: if we …

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Mapping as a Moral Act

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that a budget is a moral document. There is always genuine disagreement how to allocate limited resources, as there is genuine disagreement how to live ethical lives. A budget reveals one’s value system and recognizes that life involves difficult trade-offs. And it isn’t just about what appears in the …

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Announcing a Partnership with the Henry Luce Foundation

The American Geographical Society (AGS) and its EthicalGEO Initiative has been awarded a grant by the Henry Luce Foundation to investigate the societal implications of geospatial technology and location tracking during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. As public consciousness coalesces around location data collection and its implications amidst the pandemic, the grant awarded to AGS …

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Teaching Ethics with GIS

Maps and the GIS behind those maps are powerful tools for informing the present and making plans for the future.  How can ethics be effectively taught in geography, GIS, health, planning, engineering, business, and other courses in which the “where” question is being asked?  I believe that the very same GIS tools that present ethical …

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Mapping Covid-19’s impact and response in communities in Kenya

As cases of coronavirus continue to mount in Kenya, Map Kibera has launched the Kenya Covid-19 Tracker Ushahidi instance in order to track cases in the country and resources available, especially in the slum areas of Nairobi such as Kibera.  Those who live in and work with residents of informal settlements and refugee camps are …

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