Sunday, January 14, 2007

I Want To Map The City

Most of it, anyway... Will you help me?
Albertha in Louisiana called me this time last year, and our conversation went something like this:
- "Happy New Year, Dr. Jett. What's the plan for 2006?"
- "Gentilly," I said.
- "What about the Lower Ninth Ward?" she responded.
- "We'll get to it," I answered.
I meant it sincerely. I didn't really allow myself to think about it while there was an unfulfilled vision - mapping the progress within a subsection of New Orleans (Gentilly being the pilot) . Now we have come a long way, especially in recent weeks, and things are different.
As of last week, we have help mapped all of the ~ 14,000 street addresses in Gentilly. First, it took us about 5 months to map less than 10% of Gentilly addresses. Then, I came up with how we could take a fresh approach - applying what I know from researching organizations and teaching operations management. In less than 5 weeks, we mapped 100% of Gentilly addresses with this approach.
There remains a lot more planned with Gentilly: (1) Uploading the most recent data collection from the past several weeks, (2) Developing a real process for local residents to audit the color codes of properties and update them as rebuilding occurs, (3) Collaborating with residents to build the capacity for civic participation in their neighborhoods.
In various ways, other parts of New Orleans are already coming up as places to map. I'm looking closely at the Lower Ninth Ward, due to a residential contact I was given last Tuesday. I also have a couple leads to pursue in Lakeview. Last week, I briefly spoke to a guy working on his brother's roof in Gentilly. After I explained what we were doing, he asked when we would get to St. Bernard's Parish, which isn't technically in Orleans Parish (a.k.a. "the City of New Orleans") but could be included in the mapping.
Then last Friday, an opportunity came up to possibly map the Mid-City area of New Orleans. There is some justice to mapping that area. The New Orleans resident who came up with the color code that we use.... She lives there.
Within the project, I always try to stay focused on what we can feasibly do. However, I'm also pretty clear about what my personal aspirations are. I want the rest of the city's flood-damaged areas mapped like Gentilly.


Blogger Evan Thomas Paul said...

Are you working with the UNOP District Planning Team for Gentilly? They've done a lot of mapping work in that area and I'm sure they'd be happy to share it with you.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Quintus Jett said...

Thanks, Evan. We've been following developments with the planning team, as have many of the residents.

There are some differences in the content of mapping and (perhaps more importantly) the process of mapping we are developing in Gentilly.

There are also many different yet complementary kinds of mapping going on in the city, and it's pretty exciting...I can easily foresee these mapping projects sharing data and performing analyses across different mapping data sets.

10:19 PM  

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