Monday, January 08, 2007

Final Neighborhoods and Next Steps

I slept a lot on Sunday, the lack of sleep for many days catching up with me.

Mapping about 15,000 street addresses based on a spontaneously-organized collection of volunteers was quite ambitious, given how I was thinking most of 2006. I almost can't believe that it happened. What was beyond our greatest expectation became feasible and then a reality within several weeks.
There are too many people than I can name to thank for this. From the residents here in Gentilly to the student teams from Dartmouth and UMass/Boston...
Today, I've already been asked a few times what's next. Some of that is already becoming more clear:

1. We're going to get the collected data displayed as soon as we can, when our existing server (or new server) comes online. One of the UMass students asked me Saturday if a person would have to pay to get access to the data. My answer was no. The point is to display it on our "web-based Gentilly map" (i.e., a public GIS - geographic information system).

2. We're going to develop a system with residents to keep the data updated or refreshed. For instance, Gentilly resident K.C. King is helping complete the mapping of the two neighborhoods on Lake Pontchartrain that didn't receive much flooding damage. K.C. has volunteered extensively the past week, and he has already offered to help keep particular areas updated.

3. There were three business owners from Tuck's Executive Program who were with the project in December. As a result of their being here, each of them - John Wilkerson, Pam Dessaso, and Bob Oakley - is already developing their own independent contributions to the recovery of New Orleans. For instance, I've been speaking with Pam about the Post-Katrina Economic Development summit she's organizing for this year.

4. I'll be turning to my academic colleagues a bit more in the coming two months to process these past several weeks. I may be presenting at Stanford University later this month, in the department where I received my doctorate. There's a community of scholars there that I'd think be very helpful in moving the ideas of this project forward.

There's still lots going on and much to do.


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