Public Lab Research note

Introducing the MapKnitter: Community Atlas project

by warren | May 28, 2019 16:17 28 May 16:17 | #19558 | #19558

Some of you (especially in our coding community) have noticed the major increase in work on our MapKnitter map-making website over the past few months, and we wanted to take the opportunity today to announce that, with support from Google, we have launched a new pilot project to make it easier than ever for communities to build their own "community atlas." Using MapKnitter and the platform, we'll be helping a new generation of community mappers to use kites and balloons to create their own "Community Atlases" with our open source tools, and to tell stories about local issues from environmental problems to community projects.

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As part of this project, we've launched a fellowship, and begun working with two mapping fellows with community-based balloon or kite mapping projects. These fellows, who you'll hear more from soon, will be doing some amazing community mapping work while also working with the Public Lab coding community throughout the map-making process, helping to identify how can better support the needs of mappers around the world.

MapKnitter overhaul

This pilot project involves a thorough reboot of the now-ten-year-old MapKnitter codebase, including major overhauls of the user interface, design, and back-end systems. We're also rebuilding our map exporting system (which long-time users will know is quite slow) on Google Cloud infrastructure, and developing a range of new open source utilities and libraries to make this possible. More on this soon!

We've assembled an amazing team of code fellows from our community to lead this work on what, given the pilot scope of the project, has been a very fast timeline. Sasha, Cess, Stefanni, Sidharth, Gaurav, Sagarpreet, and Varun, and many others have helped make this possible, including Pranshu, Kaustabh, Alax, Avkaran, and more. You can see some of the amazing activity on this project here:

We've also recently published an early update to the site, incorporating a range of fixes, updates, and improvements; check it out: --- but this is only the beginning, so keep your ears open!

Summer of Code

Google also hosts the Google Summer of Code program, which we have participated in for six years, and who have supported 13 fellows this coming summer (as was just announced!). Over recent years, we've steadily refined a workflow that welcomes new code contributors as they get plugged into our community, and aims to support building skills incrementally and cooperatively---and Google has been a key supporter of these efforts. Learn more about our diversity and inclusivity efforts in coding by checking out our Software Contributor Survey results, posted recently.

Stay tuned for more on this project, from stories from our fellows to demos of our new MapKnitter systems!


This is awesome! This just made me think about how I could make a post out of all those videos I've been posting

I think that's a GREAT idea! We'd love to promote anything you do with them on social media too, now that we've announced the project publicly!

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Awesome!! Progress at Mapknitter is really great and we'll surely improve a lot till the end of summer 😃

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Awesome! Glad to see we're connecting with more people across the world and making a bigger impact 😃

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This is great!!!!!

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Let's goooooo! Publish early, publish often.

With vertical imagery being a significant barrier to entry at times, it would be wonderful to see the Atlas serve to as a place for field notes around oblique imagery as well. If the imagery is not vertical enough to be used in mapping without heavy distortion there is still great information and utility with the data in oblique format.

Look who it is!!!! hey there @gonzoearth good to see you!!!! 👍 🎉 🌐

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