JCU professor starts International Network

November 4th, 2010

John Carroll University professor Jen Ziemke co-founded the International Network of Crisis Mappers and co-organized the International Conference on Crisis Mapping series. She will be offering a course next semester entitled “Crisis Mapping New Media and Polictics,” based on the technology and methods of her organization.

Crisis mapping utilizes technology to update maps online, which report what is happening globally in real time.

“We could learn something useful about trends [from these technological changes] that could tell us something significant about the election process, or about the dynamics of emergencies, or to help direct emergency aid to people that need it most,” said Ziemke.

Maps are a significant part of the Network, and consist of several layers of data like populations, roads and images, in order to get information to the people who really need it. It can be particularly beneficial to those individuals first on the scenes of a crisis. 

“My colleagues at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative proposed the idea of a new field of crisis mapping, because so many people from around the world simultaneously started to leverage the power of maps and new technologies to understand the world around them,” Ziemke said.

Since the network was started one year ago, there are more than 1,000 people involved with new ideas and information. 

Many of the members of the International Network of Crisis Mappers met for the first time at John Carroll in October 2009 when the first conference took place.

As a crisis mapping fellow, Ziemke’s role is to develop how “Crisis Mapping can be used to help us understand processes and micro-level dynamics of violence inside conflict and war,” she said.

Recently with crisis mapping Ziemke and Patrick Meier, her colleague, have finished a year-long task of organizing the second conference, which was held at Harvard and Tufts Universities in Boston in October. 

Crisis mapping has not only brought awareness to the state of other nations, but has been a resource which has created a global network of “first responders.”

The JCU community has also been involved with crisis mapping.  A few students helped Ziemke with the tasks the earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010.

JCU will be offering a course based on the crisis mapping network in the spring. 

“I really look forward to learning with the students when I teach a course on crisis mapping this spring. It will give us a chance to learn some techniques and tools but also step back and reflect a bit on the issues and concerns, and help define the shape of this new field,” Ziemke said.