United Nation’s International Migrants Day and GIS

December 18th is the United Nation’s International Migrants Day to recognize the efforts, contributions, and rights of migrants worldwide.  Migrant workers and migration has had a natural fit with geography and geospatial approaches from historic analysis to today’s global world.  The UN is taking a geospatial approach to recognizing  International Migrants Day. They asked global citizens to participate by sharing photos and videos tied to their personal stories about how migrants positively contribute to communities and economies worldwide on Facebook and Twitter using #IAmAMigrant which were then featured on the UN’s Storify page. Storify by Livefyre is a free online tool that collects location based social media and videos from around the web into a unified story.

It’s impossible to capture the myriad geospatial fields, topics, and technologies that are used in today’s global migrant society. Several geographers including Dr. Elaine Burrough have blogs  devoted to migration issues. In December she posted her Top 10 Migration Issues of 2013 and and  interactive map from the BBC article on “The World Cup and Migrant Workers”.  Esri has many articles on the use of GIS in migrant worker analysis including modern day applications on Esri ArcUser Online. German Zarate-Hoyos and Scott W. Anderson, State University of NY, Cortland analyzed  “GIS Tracks Earnings  Sent Home by Mexican Migrants”  A January 2013 interactive map in The Guardian by their interactive team visualizes “How Much Money Migrants Send Home?” using data from the World Bank’s 2011 estimates.  Getting up to date data on a sensitive subject is one of the challenges for any GIS professional and is often the focus of academic and industry papers that give methodologies, practices, and protocols. States like Tennesse include information on how to collect data on migrant workers in their “Tennessee Department of Transportation Civil Rights Office Title VI Program: Data Collection Tool Kit.

Other examples of different geospatial analysis of  migrant workers and migration include a huge selection of curriculum resources on Immigration and Migration for K-12 educators provided by Primary Source. The CommunityWalk Interactive Labor Trail is an interactive map created by the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) and the Illinois Humanities Council that maps 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. A longer view of migration is provided by The National Geographic Genographic Project, The Human Journey: Migration Routes.


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