Public Lab Research note

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Host a balloon mapping workshop

by liz |

Want to show others how to make balloon or kite maps? Need help mapping a large site or doing long-term mapping? Want to start a local group of balloon mappers? Great! FYI, this activity has been updated from a previous research note of the same name.

We can use the comments below to exchange advice on how to organize and run a balloon mapping workshop, and keep this updated.

First steps

  • Get the word out! * Compile a list of emails of local interested people. Write everybody to say hello and suggest using one of the email lists. Also reach out over Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Figure out a good day (preferably morning for low wind) to meet. (try using a Doodle), and then post a clear event with date/time/location, etc.
  • Ask people what equipment they can bring: not just balloon mapping gear but cameras, gps, maps. If you're mapping on the water, ask if anyone has a boat!
  • Review the balloon mapping page and links and be sure you have all the supplies you need
    • Helium may require ordering more than one day in advance.
  • How many people can you teach at a workshop? A good rule of thumb is 4-6 people per mapping kit, each group should also have at least one person who's mapped before.

The night before

Workshop day

  • If you are the organizer, arrive early to the meeting spot!
  • Hand around a notepad to sign newcomers up on the mailing list
  • Some people like to start by showing MapKnitter so that participants know how the images will be processed ahead of time. Sometimes by the end of the day everyone's too tired to break out a laptop and start stitching images.
  • Bring and fill out a Flight Log entry with field notes and key data about your mapping site


  • Be sure to upload and share the best of the images freely (i.e. under an open license) with your new colleagues. Contact to find a place to host them on the Public Lab site (like

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activity:aerial-photography activity:balloon-mapping activity:host-an-event activity:teach-and-learn


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