01. Field-based Mapping

  • Reflects the physical and social characteristics of neighborhoods
  • Represents local definitions and contexts of deprivation
  • When performed by residents of deprived areas, field-based mapping is a tool for empowerment
  • Definitions of deprivation vary widely by city and country, and thus comparability across settings is unclear
  • Field-based mapping – particularly when it is done in a participatory way – is very time-intensive, and thus cannot be repeated routinely across many neighborhoods, cities, and countries

Field-based mapping is commonly performed by community NGOs such as Slum Dwellers International, and linked to advocacy for slum dwellers’ recognition and rights. In many cases, the approach is wholly participatory, where organized community members map and enumerate their settlement to gather planning data and catalyze community action.

When field-based mapping is performed by outsiders such as academics or governments, the approach often begins with a review of satellite imagery and identification of potential informal settlements. Field-based mapping is then performed as validation of imagery interpretation with, or without, the involvement of community members.

While field-based mapping strongly represents local context, and reflects both physical and social characteristics of local areas, the approach on its own is extremely time-intensive and difficult to upscale to entire cities and countries. A further complication is that local experts and residents interpret deprivation in different ways, and draw different boundaries around areas of deprivation.

More Approaches to Slum Mapping

Current methods of mapping “slum” areas take place in isolation.
IDEAMAPS aims towards integration - using strengths from each approach to build a more detailed system.

01. Field-based Mapping

Field-based mapping is commonly performed by community NGOs such as Slum Dwellers International, and linked to advocacy...

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02. Census & Survey

The widely cited statistic from UN-Habitat – 1 billion slum dwellers globally – is calculated by classifying and counting urban “slum ...

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03. Digitising Imagery

Satellite imagery is sometimes used to manually digitize informal settlements. This approach is typically based on a...

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04. Computer Models

Data scientists use computer models to semi-automatically classify deprived urban areas from satellite imagery and other...

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