Driving Community Change with Geospatial Technologies

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Geoporter is a non-profit that works to place geospatial technologies in the hands of residents to investigate community resources and issues. Geospatial technologies involve GPS, satellite imagery, and computerized mapping, enabling community residents to access information and data to make critical decisions. Residents from communities of any size are involved from start to finish in identifying how to make their community safe and a desirable place to live. As you read about the exciting work of Geoporter, please consider supporting us.

New garbage cans in Bahia Ballena

New trash cans painted by local youth ready to be placed around town

Together with the community of Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica, Geoporter has helped, since 2012, to facilitate six projects addressing community issues.

Clean Streets, Clean Waters

Goal: Prevent trash from entering streets and oceans

Trash cleanup

Recognizing that clean streets and beaches are good for quality of life and tourism, the Bahia Ballena community has taken innovative actions to minimize trash on its streets and beaches. With help from Geoporter, volunteers have created a system for both clearing and mapping trash in public areas. These “trash maps” have led to changes: eight new trash and recycling centers installed in “hotspot” areas, new programs implemented in the schools, and “Yo No Tiro Basura” educational message campaigns that reach both locals and tourists.

New garbage cans in Bahia Ballena

New trash cans painted by local youth ready to be placed around town

This project has now expanded to comprise a coalition of businesses in the community who are pledging to reduce their single-use plastic usage and consumption.

Participatory Whale Monitoring

Goal: Monitor whales and dolphins to understand migration patterns for tourism planning

Whale monitoring in Costa Rica

Local guide collecting observations of a whale using GPS

Since 2012, Geoporter has helped boat captains and tour companies monitor the number and species of whales in Marino Ballena National Park. Using GPS and GIS, whale watching businesses can record and map all sightings during their daily boat tours with tourists. Back on land, Geoporter teaches GIS mapping and analysis of whale sighting patterns, helping boat operators to plan successful future outings.

Coastal Escuelas

Goal: Empower youth with skills to tackle problems in their community; empower educators with tools and practices to enhance classroom learning

Local youth empowerment GPS

Sixth grade students from Escuela La Flor de Bahia use GPS to map and collect trash around their school

Geoporter’s Coastal Escuelas project engages schools and youth using GPS and GIS to apply skills to enhance learning and address community issues. During and after school, youth learn how GPS and GIS technology can help them understand classroom content such as earthquakes, ecological biomes, and invasive species. They also use the technologies for community projects such as mapping local food sources and the trash around their school.

Semilla de Ballena

Goal: Mitigate impacts of climate change and development through reforestation

Reforestation project Bahia Ballena

Local residents working together on the Semilla de Ballena reforestation project

The goals of the reforestation initiative are to protect beaches from erosion, provide suitable habitats for wildlife, and increase the amount of shade in town. Businesses and organizations have joined to reforest the community with local and native trees and a community nursery is being built to raise seedlings for transplanting. GPS and GIS are used to map locations to collect seeds, plant trees, and monitor tree health for a balanced, diverse ecosystem.

Pura Agua

Goal: Ensure clean waterways and continued access to potable water

Water map Bahia Ballena

Clean waterways are important to the health and environment of the community. In collaboration with Geoporter, Bahia Ballena residents have realized that by mapping, testing, and communicating information about water quality, they can influence decisions to improve and protect their waterways, ultimately improving their quality of life. In 2015, mapping key contaminated water locations during the dry season resulted in two national businesses changing their gray water systems to eliminate wastewater from flowing into the ocean.

Osa Communities

Goal: Empower communities in Osa to investigate their own community concerns

Geoporter Osa Costa Rica

Working to train local guides on GPS/GIS technologies

Bahia Ballena residents share project results with other communities in the Southern Pacific Osa Region. An understanding of how residents can themselves affect change has resonated with other communities who have asked for GPS and GIS trainings to apply to their own projects. Geoporter now supports the communities of Sierpe, Piedras Blancas, Rancho Quemado, El Progreso, and Bahia Drake located in some of the most environmentally diverse areas of the world.

Geoporter is accomplishing all of its work with a very small budget, relying on private donations to continue its work. Please help Geoporter continue its mission of empowering communities around the world to use transformative geospatial technologies to make local, regional and global changes. To help us continue our good work, you can donate here.

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The article is from a guest contributor. If you would like to contribute on the Bodhi Surf + Yoga blog, please email us at [email protected]

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