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Six Duke University undergraduate students participated in a group research project on data visualization, digital mapping, and information and communication technologies in complex human emergencies. This work was part of a project-based class through BorderWork(s) Humanities Lab called At Home/On the Wall.

Students conducted research on methodologies, tools, and models for needs and resource assessments in complex human emergencies, with a focus on cartographic methods such as crisis mapping and social cartography.  After six weeks of shared reading, students chose individual or paired research projects.

Two students—Saira Butt and Ishan Thakore—spent the semester exploring a variety of map-making tools, including ArcGIS, ArcGIS Online, QGIS, Google Earth, GeoCommons, and Google Fusion.

We wanted to create visualizations that did not require internet access and thus focused on ArcGIS and QGIS.   Students made maps in class with ArcGIS because Duke University has a site license. The following summer, Saira Butt converted the ArcGIS maps to QGIS—an open-source mapping program–and travelled to Colombia to update maps and share information with municipal officials.

Saira at waterfall

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