In our last few articles, we've looked at some free desktop-based applications that nonprofit staff can use to create choropleths and cartograms, two specific types of maps. These desktop tools, while they can be free and powerful, aren't always user-friendly and many nonprofits don't have the necessary underlying datafiles to use them properly.
Most of the maps we use look familiar to us: for instance, most Americans can recognize the shape of the continental United States whether it's appearing on a weather map or in a newspaper article about the economy. Sometimes, however, ordinary maps depicting geographic area aren't the most useful method of visualizing our information.
Neogeographer and community technologist Ben Sheldon posted a summary of his mapping presentation from the Technology 2.0 community event - it's a good overview of the topic and there are numerous great examples.
"The Opportunity Agenda, with support from the Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, commissioned a series of papers examining the effectiveness of web based mapping, and the role it can play in promoting health equity."
The article discusses the difficulties in other countries of collectiong geodata or making cartographic development while noting Philippine Association for Inter-Cultural Development (PAFID) activities.