Day 4 – Before mapping the unmappable

Calais changes, Calais is unmappable. Yet, this is what we have come here for.

Written by Christoph Trost

We spent the morning in the camp, taking down non-food item orders from residents. Tudor summarises the order: “…two body towels, one can opener and a large pot. What’s your name?” We will return later, hoping to find his shelter.

In the afternoon we packed up the deliveries for camp residents. The requests were made yesterday and today, but due to teargas inside the camp we could not deliver.

Calais today offers a plethora of willing volunteers and organizations to improve the dire conditions in the jungle. Yet, life in the camp in between Chemin des Dunes and the highway is a struggle.

Residents don’t find each other or services in this maze of muddy pathways and wooden shelters that look very much alike. The Mapfugee Project tries to solve this problem by mapping services and points of interest in the camp in Calais and in Dunkerque. They trained residents so that they can collect the GPS data themselves and map their own living spaces. The openstreetmap that keeps on evolving from these efforts provide a first key orientation to camp residents. Delivering aid and finding individual shelters inside the camp, however, is still difficult impossible.

We’re here to put some thought and innovation into the needs assessment. This is not to say that there is no thought put in. But the heavy burden of bustling daily affairs and the crisis of sustaining the jungle weighs heavy on l’Auberge des Migrants – giving less time to take a step back.

Open data and open source movements especially give promising hope: technology is not just a means of mass surveillance but at least as much a tool for empowerment. Creating a bidirectional link between service providers of Calais and camp residents. Deliveries of shampoo going into the camp, unaccompanied minors being identified, warm food getting delivered – the many actions going on inside and around the camp need to be mirrored on a shared platform accessible to all stakeholder of Calais.

“I’ve never seen you before here” replied one resident when we explained the idea of a regular, shelter-based needs assessment that rotates throughout the whole camp. A faster turnover and a more accountable way of planning the routes through the camp, taking residents’ orders is much needed.

The Kobo Toolbox is a perfect fit for this: simple form designing, forms that are easily used in the field on smartphones with a browser, submitted through a secure SSL-encrypted connection, and build-in analysis and export features.

Kobo allows service providers to collect information in the camp, take orders and show service providers when residents have been referred to them. We will try to tweak the forms and data submissions to cater to the many different needs of service providers, hoping to have a solid data input soon. With that we can move forward to mapping, analysis and developing platforms where this data will be shared with the various stakeholders of the camp. Stay tuned and check back in a few days for that!

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