Mapping the Vernacular Symposium 4/17/2020

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“Mapping the Vernacular” Symposium 

Friday, April 17, 2020| 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM 

Mapping the Vernacular: CCS Symposium in new approaches for community driven sustainable development in urban informal environments.

In collaboration with the UM School of Architecture, the University of Miami Center for Computational Science (CCS) will host a half-day symposium on the application of new technologies to facilitate community driven sustainable development in urban informal environments.

Through a recent pilot project—located in the community of Las Flores, an informal settlement in Barranquilla Colombia, and funded by the National Geographic Society, with additional support from Fundación Tecnoglass ESWindows, and the CCS—the symposium explores how new drone survey technologies can be used in conjunction with established participatory data gathering methods to rapidly gather and produce community prioritized information. The combined methodology encourages storytelling from both physical—the built and natural environment—and cultural perspectives in the communities. Products include digital 3D models, high-resolution scaled aerial imagery, maps, oral histories, a census style survey, a public participatory GIS system (P/PGIS), a novel urban design concept, and a model document for data sharing agreements and a data governance board. The project is based on the assumption that the cooperative collection, review and discussion of data combined with dissemination through stories and maps leads to opportunities for a more just and sustainable society.

The Symposium will be held on Friday, April 17, 2020, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Watsco Center Multipurpose Room/Field House, 1245 Dauer Dr, Coral Gables, FL 33146. Light breakfast, lunch, and complimentary parking will be provided.  Directions


Who Should Attend

Anyone interested in sustainable development, urban design, drone survey technologies, photogrammetry, geographic information systems (GIS), and community engagement with mapping and data collection projects.


mapping the vernacular



By 2050 the United Nations estimates that 66 percent of the world population will be urban, and a large part of this urban population will join, or create new, informal communities in conditions of poverty. Nearly one billion people within this urban population currently live in such communities which are generally undocumented, lack land tenure, are comprised of non-durable or overcrowded housing, and are beyond the reach of government services and infrastructure. Challenges faced by residents include; lack of personal security, insufficient public health measures, and limited access to potable water sources. Additionally, residents of informal communities also face increased exposure to environmental hazards resulting in a greater risk for adverse health effects, particularly in children, as well as being in locations that are “highly vulnerable to natural disasters and are expected to experience the greatest impact of climate change” (UN 2014). Addressing such unplanned urban expansion is a principle challenge for sustainable development for the foreseeable future.

During an approximate ten-month period from October 2018 to July 2019, the team worked to facilitate participatory data collection and mapping in Las Flores, Barranquilla Colombia. This informal settlement located at the mouth of the Magdalena River, and adjacent to the Ciénaga de Mallorquin (a lagoon on the Caribbean Sea), was established approximately 70 years ago. Initially founded as a worker’s camp and fishing community, it is largely built on landfill that continually extends further into the Ciénaga. Two-thirds surrounded by water, and otherwise adjacent to factories and industrial spaces, Las Flores is a residential island, separate by kilometers from other residential areas of Barranquilla. Las Flores consists of approximately 2500 dwellings (~10,000 people) with varying degrees of access to government and commercial services such as sanitation, water and power.

While the discussion will be specific to the project in Las Flores, a principal goal of the symposium will be to collect perspectives from a variety of viewpoints regarding the applicability (and potential value) of the highlighted approach to other types of participatory community documentation projects.



8:30 AM Registration Opens (light breakfast)

9:00 AM Welcome Address

9:15 AM Project Overview: Activities and Outcomes

During this segment, expect to hear about:
• Social Cartography
• Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
• Drones
• Photogrammetry and 3D models
• Data and Data Governance
• Geospatial Data Visualization
• Public Participatory GIS (P/PGIS)

10:30 AM Exhibition Hall Demonstrations

Self-directed, more in depth experience with the opportunity to explore the project through five different exhibits focused on:

• The Community of Las Flores (past, present, future)
• Technology (drones, GIS, P/PGIS)
• Survey and Data (GIS and data governance)
• Social Cartography (draw some maps of South Florida)
• Urban Design (a novel urban design project informed by the community survey)

Light Lunch

12:00 PM Panel Discussion
Invited guests and project members discuss the project and outcomes with audience interaction via a Q+A session to include topics like:
• Challenges to Sustainable Development in Self-Organizing Urban Environments
• Participatory Democracy
• Things Happening in Barranquilla and Las Flores
• Applying These Methods to Other Types of Projects

2:00 PM Event Closes


Watsco Center parking

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