Digital Democracy: Indigenous-led Mapping and Monitoring Tools

In a time of rapid technological advancement, Digital Democracy (Dd) believes that technology can, should and must be used to promote civic engagement. They envision a future where all people can participate in the decisions that affect their lives.

Dd’s vision for the next three years is not only to continue supporting communities in Peru, Guyana, Ecuador and Mexico, but build and distribute tools robust enough to be used by communities around the globe at the frontlines of conserving bio-diverse hotspots and addressing climate change.

Dd empowers marginalized communities to use technology to defend their rights. Dd focuses on two areas:

  1. Direct work with partner organizations on the frontlines of environmental and human rights challenges
  2. Building open-source technology tools in partnership with local communities

Digital Democracy is launching Mapeo, a cutting-edge participatory mapping platform that helps indigenous communities protect their ancestral territories from illegal mining, environmental degradation, and other activities that threaten their way of life.

Maps are a critical tool for indigenous communities to claim rights over their territories and fight extractive industries that threaten their ecosystems. Mapeo allows local groups to control and manage their own information, document threats and share their stories. Mapeo uses a groundbreaking peer-to-peer database built on OpenStreetMap that enables communities to collaborate on maps without an internet connection and control how information is shared.

One Earth is supporting the development of Mapeo because this tool can be used by communities – particularly indigenous groups – around the globe to document environmental threats and defend their territories. Maps from Mapeo can support land claims by giving communities a voice in policy decisions that affect their lands. Mapeo helps these communities document evidence of environmental harm and gives them the proof to hold corporations and governments  accountable. Mapeo makes it possible for frontline communities to be able to know what is happening on the land in real-time and control how that information is published and shared.

For the team at Digital Democracy, the solution lies not in technology itself, but rather how tools like Mapeo enable communities to collaborate and document the world around them so that they are empowered to stop environmental injustices and human rights abuses.