Category Archives: Digital Humanities Research

Research Proposal and Presentation

Emma Healy Presentation

Project Proposal

Emma Healy

MA DAH 2016

Are the English Language Needs of Migrants in Cork Being Met?


“For refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland, the ability to read and write in English is    the key that opens the door to integration into Irish society, and the absence of educational opportunities is the ultimate form of disempowerment.”[1]



The purpose of this proposal is to establish the need for research into the area of provision of English language training to refugees and asylum seekers as it is a timely issue that affects the future of the changing population of Ireland. This essay will discuss the recent history of migration in Ireland, the barriers to integration facing migrants, the value of English language proficiency in overcoming these barriers, as well as proposing to conduct a thorough investigation into currently available resources aimed at refugees and asylum seekers and to conduct interviews with a number of people, (refugees, asylum seekers, employers, NGOs), for the purpose of a needs analysis. Finally, this proposal will suggest the outline of a digital artefact informed by the research and shaped by the results of said needs analysis.

Recent History


In 2011, census data shows 544,357 non Irish nationals from 199 nations living in Ireland (CSO). In that year, 1290 applications for refugee status were received, with the highest percentage coming from Nigeria (ORAC). The top 5 applicant nations were Nigeria, Pakistan, China, DRC and Afghanistan. Last year in 2015, the number of applications had increased to 3276 (the highest amount received since 2008), with the highest percentage coming from Pakistan (ORAC). The top 5 applicant nations were Pakistan, Bangladesh, Albania, Nigeria and India. This shows that not only are the numbers of applicants rising again but that the demographic of those applying is also rapidly shifting. Government agencies have to try and predict these changes and channel resources effectively in an unstable domestic and international political climate.

Issues and Barriers


The problems facing migrants are manifold; racism, discrimination, marginalization and exploitation occur frequently and can manifest in a number of ways in regards to employment, housing, access to education, access to services and even physical abuse. In Cork alone, over 70 % of ethnic minorities and black Africans claim discrimination and in 2012, 55.9% of ethnic minorities reported being the victim of a racist attack (Nasc).

The root causes and possible solutions are numerous, but in a 2008 study by Nasc, migrants and employers were interviewed about potential barriers to integration and employment and many identified English language proficiency as being a necessary skill. The highest rate of unemployment in Ireland is found among those with refugee or leave to remain status.

Without a certain level of English language proficiency, migrants face barriers to employment, they are vulnerable to exploitation, they may be unaware of their rights, and the laws protecting those rights. When they are faced with an employer who is breaking the law, they may not know the proper channels to report it, or face discrimination while doing so. They may be unaware or unable to avail of social services or access education or health care. There is also the issue of isolation and non-integration into the community.

Preliminary Research


“There is very little in the way of research in regard to refugee and asylum seeker  issues in Ireland, particularly in regard to language needs”[2]


Preliminary research into the services available for those who want to learn English has proven difficult, with out-of-date links to schools and centres that no longer exist and a general lack of free or low-cost courses, especially at lower levels. Some current resources include the Welcome English Centre, a charitable organization run by the Sisters of Mercy and staffed by volunteers. It provides English language classes to all levels including offering IELTS certification, and also a social outlet for those who feel isolated. However, while they have approximately 300 students enrolled and registration is currently full for 2016-2017, there are 716 asylum seekers currently living in direct provision housing in Cork county (RIA). The number of those with refugee status in Cork was estimated at over 1400 in 2001 (Nasc) but current figures are not immediately available and are, presumably, higher. Failte Isteach is a community-based volunteer-run organisation with 83 locations nation-wide that pairs local people with students for free conversational English classes. There are none currently established in Cork city.


“I think there should be more information about English classes. There are many people who would like to learn English , but there isn’t very much information and they don’t know what there is .For example, before, I did not know where Spirasi was, even though it is only about 15 minutes away from my home. How can you find out where English classes are? There should be more information. Maybe in the Department of Justice, they should give you a list of places when you make an application. There must be more people who want to know about classes, but if they do not have any English, how can they ask?”[3]

The above quote clearly illustrates the conundrum facing those with little or no English proficiency.

In 2015 a case study was conducted 11 years after Chechen refugees had been resettled in Roscommon and who attended an initial mandatory intensive English course. Some of the recommendations based on the research are for an initial language course that is less intense and for a longer period, which allows for more immediate pressing concerns over health and housing for example. Most of the refugees did not complete the intensive course, but found it beneficial nonetheless and it was found that a lot of learning was completed outside the classroom and depended greatly on the motivation of the students. Social interaction was necessary to facilitate this.[4]

 Proposed Research Methodology


‘Integration policies across Europe often fail to acknowledge that migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are well equipped to identify their needs and provide solutions to specific issues which affect them’[5]

This research project proposes to:

  • Conduct a thorough investigation of all the facilities and resources available to refugees and asylum seekers for the purpose of English language learning.
  • Collect data from various sources such as the CSO, ORAC and Pobal to get an accurate and up-to-date picture of the number, nationalities and status of migrants, particularly refugees and asylum seekers currently living in Cork.
  • Establish relationships with NGOs such as Nasc and the Irish Refugee Council for research and collaborative purposes.
  • Conduct semi-structured interviews with a (representative) number of refugees and asylum seekers for the purpose of performing a needs analysis, possibly through a translator if necessary as well as with employers and NGOs.


Tools and Digital Artefact


The proposed research will require ethics approval, statistical data analysis and representation, the creation of a questionnaire, semi-structured interview questions and data analysis of interview transcriptions. Possible tools include SPARQL, Lumify, Google fusion tables, Carto, Neatline and Omeka or e-pubs. Ongoing research will be published in a WordPress blog. This list will be amended as the research is conducted.


The conception and conduction of the research will be documented in the thesis and will inform the creation of a digital artefact. This artefact will possibly take the form of a user-centred, intuitive, open-source website with links to available resources, including organisations, tutors, classes and other language resources and tools for e-learning. Ideally, it would be continuously updated and expanded and available in different languages for non-English speakers.



‘Adult Education; Teaching English to Asylum Seekers and Refugees’, Learner’, Halkett, G. and Mulloy, N., Aontas, ‘The Adult Learner’, 2001

‘Evaluating the Barriers to Employment and Education for Migrants in Cork’, Nasc, 2008

‘A Guide for Migrants in Cork: Employment, Enterprise and Education’, Nasc, 2008

‘Stop the Silence: A Snapshot of racism in Cork’, Nasc, 2012

Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, Annual Reports, 2008, 2011, 2015

 ‘Researching the Language Needs of Asylum Seekers, Ward, T., Aontas, ‘The Adult Learner’, 2001

Reception and Integration Agency, Annual Report, 2015

 ‘There is a Need for more English Classes and Child Care’, Berisha, A., Aontas, ‘The Adult Learner’, 2001

 ‘A Case Study of English language Acquisition by Chechen Programme Refugees in Roscommon, Ireland’, Rose L., Irish Journal of Academis Practice, 4.1, 2015

 ‘From Catastrophe to Marginalisation: The Experiences of Somali Refugees in Ireland’, Moreno E. and Lentin R., Dublin Migrant networks, Trinity Immigration Initiative, 2010

[1]{Adult Education: Teaching English to Asylum Seekers and Refugees, Halkett, G. and Mulloy, N., Aontas, 2001 }

[2] {Researching the Language Needs of Asylum Seekers, Ward, T. Aontas, 2001}

[3] {‘There is a Need for more English Classes and Child Care’, Berisha, A., Aontas 2001}

[4]{Liana Rose, ‘A Case Study of English Language Acquisition by Chechen Programme Refugees in Roscommon, Ireland’, Irish Journal of Academic Practice, 4.1 (2015), 6.}


[5] { ‘From Catastrophe to Marginalisation: The Experiences of Somali Refugees in Ireland’, Moreno E, Lentin R. Dublin: Migrant Networks Project,(Trinity Immigration Initiative, 2010), 2010  [accessed 3 December 2016].


Ireland’s economy and the rate of immigration in the 21st Century: The Polish and UK connection.


Ireland has a long history of population fluctuation, with emigration being the driving force of its changing demographic. This outward flow has been closely linked to economic factors, from the mass emigration during the Great Famine and towards the end of the 19th century (FitzGerald, n.d.), in the post-World War II era, to the more recent waves of departures during the bleak economy of the 1980s and after the global financial crisis of 2008 (Economic history of the Republic of Ireland, 2016). The exception was the 1970s, when negative net emigration was seen for the first time in Irish history.

However, it was not until the late 1990s that a significant influx of both returning Irish nationals and non-Irish immigrants placed Ireland as a country of net immigration. Rapid economic growth created a huge demand for labour (“Ireland”, 2009) and saw unemployment drop from 15.9 percent in 1993 to a historic low of 3.6 percent in 2001. After the 2004 EU enlargement, new highs were reached in overall immigration, as Ireland was one of just three countries that did not impose entry restrictions on the new EU accession states (Coleman, 2006). In 2007, Ireland had the third largest migration rate across the 27 EU member states (Focus-Migration: Ireland, n.d.). This rapid shift in demographics has been closely tied to the economic boom of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ and the subsequent decline in immigration seen after 2008 is linked to the global financial crisis and the severe economic recession experienced in Ireland. It would seem to be an accepted fact that there is a strong correlation between Ireland’s economy and the rate of immigration (Denny and O’Grada, 2013). The aim of this narrative is to determine how closely linked these elements are, and how reliable immigration rates are as an indicator of economic viability. To explore this, GDP and PPSN allocations from 2004 to 2015 were compared, along with unemployment data and population figures, to determine correlation.

The chosen dataset was PPSN Allocations to Foreign Nationals by Country and Year (, 2017) spanning the years 2004 to 2015. Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSN) are “the only relatively reliable source of immigration data divided by origin country between Census years” (Roeder, 2011). PPSN are required to work and to access social services, but allocations are not a complete record of immigration as not all immigrants or their dependants require one and it also does not account for asylum seekers or illegal immigrants. They also do not indicate when a person leaves the country. However, as immigrants must be normally resident in Ireland to obtain one and the data is grouped per year, it is likely that the numbers are strongly indicative of the actual immigration figures for that year. Figure 1 displays the entire primary dataset, showing emerging patterns which correlate with times of economic prosperity.

Figure 1


We tracked the PPSN to Irish Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (CSO, 2017), generally considered a good gauge of economic performance (Economic Indicators, 2003) over a ten year period and saw that there was indeed a correlation (Figure 2 & 3).


Figure 2: Global PPSN GDP Correlation


Figure 3: Line Chart Global PPSN GDP Correlation


Poland and the UK emerged as the biggest contributors to Irish immigration (Figure 4);


Figure 4: Top 10 PPSN Allocations


so it was decided to focus on these countries for the purposes of exploring the correlation between Ireland’s economy and the rate of immigration. PPSN allocations for Poland and UK only were plotted against the Irish GDP and both examples show a strong correlation during the height of the economic boom in Ireland. Interestingly, the UK seems to have had a much more consistent level of immigration to Ireland (possibly due to the common travel area, proximity, ease of travel and shared language), while data on Polish PPSN allocations could suggest a purely economic motivation for emigration to Ireland, as numbers peaked and then dropped off significantly during recession (Figure 5 & 6). The recovery in employment lagged behind the recovery in GDP, suggesting that while there was economic recovery, the financial gains weren’t being felt as widely as before.


Figure 5: UK PPSN and Irish GDP


Figure 6: Polish PPSN and Irish GDP


GDP may not be an effective methodology of economic growth in Ireland (OECD, 2017 ). In 2016, Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman called Ireland’s rapidly growing GDP figures “Leprechaun economics” (Deen & Doyle, 2016). Therefore, we decided to look at other indicators of economic growth such as unemployment levels. Initially, we compared (Figure 7 Ireland’s GDP and unemployment levels), Ireland’s unemployment figures with domestic GDP which indicated that in 2012, we had the highest rate of unemployment at 14.7% whilst experiencing a 0.9% growth in GDP. In 2008, unemployment levels where at a lower 6.1% whilst GDP was in a negative value at -3, demonstrating unemployment as a lagging but real life indicator of changing economic conditions.


Figure 7: Ireland’s GDP and Unemployment Levels


A further comparison of Ireland’s unemployment levels with immigrant numbers (Figure 8) demonstrated a sharp reduction in immigrants from the UK and Poland in line with Irish unemployment records.


Figure 8: A Comparison of Irish Unemployment Levels and UK and Polish Immigrants to Ireland: 2004-2014


If unemployment records for 2007 are compared to the GDP of Ireland, UK and Poland, all three countries experienced a drop in GDP while Ireland and the UK experienced a negative value recession (Figure 9).


Figure 9: Comparison of unemployment with GDP


Figure 9 shows that Ireland’s negative GDP and subsequent growing unemployment were a strong indicator of reduced UK and possibly Polish immigrant levels than the GDP levels of their home countries. In fact, (Figure 1) immigration into Ireland fell from all over the world in line with Ireland’s worsening economic crisis. This is contrary to the views of Krings et al (2009) who argued that it was misplaced and simplistic to assume that immigrants, especially Polish immigrants, left Ireland ‘when times are getting tough’.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office challenge Krings et al (2009) perspective with numbers showing a significant decline in PPSN applications post Celtic Tiger Ireland (Figure 3 &10). On the other hand, in 2006, in the height of the boom, 63,276 Polish immigrants were living in Ireland and this number increased by 93.7% to 122,585 when Ireland was in the midst of an economic recession (Figure 10) leading to a net increase of Polish residents in Ireland at a time of highest unemployment levels and negative GDP.


Figure 10:Polish Immigrants in Ireland: Pre and Post Celtic Tiger


Whilst the Polish population significantly increased since 2004, it’s been established that new immigrant levels greatly decreased. It could be argued that a stable Polish immigrant population remained in Ireland despite an economic decline. In this same timespan, Ireland’s second largest immigrant population, the UK, remained relatively stable pre and post Celtic Tiger, though new immigrants decreased by nearly 6,000 (Figure 11). It could be argued the Polish immigrant made a connection with Irish society beyond monetary gain. In fact, according to the Polish Embassy in Ireland, the Polish population has continued to expand in Ireland.


Figure 11: PPSN Poland & Uk and Polish and UK population in Ireland


It’s clear that immigration rates, if classified by annual new immigration are a strong indicator of economic viability and are aligned to both unemployment levels and to a lesser extent GDP in Ireland. However, if immigrant classification also includes figures from the previous decade, it is noted that the Polish immigrant population increased despite a marked Irish economic decline and a strong Polish GDP (Figure 12).


Figure 12: Polish Population Continues to Grow


Therefore, there is some evidence that immigration populations are influenced by other factors as well as economic viability.

A critique of this investigation must take into account the measurement indicators used. There was a global criticism of Irish inflated GDP values in 2015 which reduced its credibility as a measure of the Irish economy. Furthermore, research indicates that net migration has more of a correlation with the country’s economy than immigration figures alone (Bernskiold et al, 2015). (Figure 13) demonstrates an increase in net migration in 2014 approaching the Celtic Tiger figures of 2003.


Figure 13: Net Migration Trends in Ireland: 2001-2014


Further research would need to use a broader variety of economic and immigration/migration values to get a more holistic perspective on the links between the Irish economy and immigration both generally or specific to the UK and Poland.

The data visualisations clearly show that during the mid 2000s Ireland’s economic situation had a huge effect on the rate of immigration. The subsequent decline in the rate of new immigrant arrivals is also clearly in line with the economic crash of the late 2000s. However, that did not result in mass emigration of those who had already become established in Ireland, as shown by the overall increased population of those from the UK and especially Poland. It would suggest that once established, immigrants were less likely to leave the country purely for economic reasons. It is possible the reasons are more social than economic and could make for interesting further study. There is a strong possibility that as Ireland begins a slow recovery, the rates of new immigration will rise again, and as new information is released from the latest census, these developments will be able to be tracked more closely.

Written and produced collaboratively by: Alison De Paor, Emma Healy, Patricia O’Sullivan & Bernadette Smart



GDP Dataset. CSO. [Accessed 7.3.17]

GDP, GNI Dataset. CSO

Economy – Finance – CSO – Central Statistics Office [WWW Document], n.d. URL  [Accessed 7.3.17].

Foreign National Activity Statbank Dataset. CSO.

CSO- Foreign National Activity Listing Generated at 16:26 on 10DEC15 [WWW Document], n.d. URL  [Accessed 7.3.17].

Immigration Dataset. CSO. [Accessed 7/3/17]

PPSN Dataset. CSO. [Accessed 7.3.17]

Migration and Diversity Datset. CSO. Census. [Accessed 12.3.17]

Unemployment, Population and GDP Dataset. IndexMundi.

Historical Data Graphs Per Year. [Accessed 12.3.17]


Bernskiold et al (2015) Is GDP a satisfactory measure of growth? – OECD Observer [WWW Document], n.d. URL  [Accessed 15.3.17].

Coleman, D., 2006. Immigration and Ethnic Change in Low-Fertility Countries: A Third Demographic Transition. Population and development review 32, 401–446.

Cormaic, R.M. (2016). Ireland’s Poles: “rooted in Irish soil” [WWW Document]. The Irish Times. URL  [Accessed 15.3.17]

Deen, M., Doyle, D., 2016. “Leprechaun Economics” Earn Ireland Ridicule, $443 Million Bill – Bloomberg [WWW Document]. Bloomberg. URL [Accessed 15.3.17]

Denny, K., O’Grada, C., 2013. Irish attitudes to immigration during and after the boom.

Economic history of the Republic of Ireland, 2016. Wikipedia. [Accessed 12.3.17]

Economic Indicators: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) [WWW Document], 2003. . Investopedia. URL  [Accessed 15.3.17]

FitzGerald, J., n.d. A Hundred and Fifty Years of Vital Statistics: Documenting Demographic Change in Ireland. [Accessed 12.3.17]

Focus-Migration: Ireland (n.d.) [WWW Document], URL [Accessed 12.3.17]

       Ireland: From Rapid Immigration to Recession [WWW Document], 2009. . URL

       [Accessed 12.3.17].

Krings T, Bobek A, Moriarty E, Salamonska J and Wickham J (2009) Migration and Recession: Polish Migrants in Post-Celtic Tiger Ireland. Sociological Research European Migrant Network. [Accessed 12.3.17]

OECD, 2017. Interactive charts by the OECD [WWW Document]. OECD Data. URL . [Accessed 15.3.17]

Roeder, A., 2011. Polish migration to Ireland–A literature review. Dublin: Trinity College Dublin, available at [Accessed 7.3.17].


Central Statistics Office (2006). Non Irish Nationals Living in Ireland. ]Accessed 12.3.17]

Department of Justice and Equality (2015) Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Immigration in Ireland: Annual Review 2015. AN ROINN DLÍ AGUS CIRT AGUS COMHIONANNAIS DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND EQUALITY [Accessed 10.3.17]

Johns C (2015) Looking at the economic benefits of immigration [Accessed 13.3.17]

O’Connell PJ & Corona J (2015) International migration in Ireland, UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy Discussion Paper Series. UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin The Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin [Accessed 11.3.17]

Crowdsourced Spatial Projection Project 6010

Evolving from the humanitarian crisis in Haiti in 2010, Humanitarian OpenStreetMaps (HOTOSM) uses open source data  and volunteer collaborative efforts to create maps in support of navigation, logistics and tracking during crises, especially in under-developed and unmapped areas of the globe. MapSwipe is a mobile application developed by MSF as a complimentary preliminary mapping tool. I engaged with both projects and also with OpenStreetMaps (OSM) in my hometown as part of this assignment and will reflect on this from a practical and a critical standpoint.

Mapping in a known area is relatively straightforward as the satellite imagery is generally good and there is a confidence in having familiarity with the area. Although major roads and other features were already present and labelled, I was able to add minor roads and buildings such as the primary school, parish hall, water treatment plant and also points of interest. This allowed me to become familiar with the interface; how to add lines, points and areas and how to classify and tag items. It is possible to switch between layers and compare modern satellite and aerial imagery with older ordnance survey maps, which would be useful for studying the changes over time. Compared to a Google map of the same area, OSM had a lot more detail, in some areas, though obviously it did not have the street view ability of the former. Because of the wiki-like nature of OSM, any changes or additions will remain until another contributor reviews or deletes them. This opens up the possibility of vandalism. Another issue involves identification of individual residences, as in,  the possibility of a contributor labeling a house, not by its street address and number, but by the occupant’s surname (as is commonly done in more rural areas), which could lead to a residence being targeted for criminal activity. As OSM is non-proprietary, anyone can export the map for use off-line or to create a custom map, as long as OSM is credited correctly using its Creative Commons (CC-BY-SA) license.

OSM Screenshot


Google Screenshot







Using HOTOSM task manager, I was able to complete 5 tiles in 3 different projects and validate 3 further tiles. However, it took a lot of trial-and-error and several uncompleted tiles to become familiar and at ease with the interface, and previous experience using OSM, while of benefit, did not adequately prepare me for these tasks, even though I completed all the tutorials and read instructions carefully. The video tutorials did not work, though I was able to read the transcripts and written instructions. I added roads and buildings using iD editor but did not attempt using JOSM as it was beyond my expertise. Given the importance of the work, and the very real nature of what HOTOSM is attempting to do and the possible negative effects of incorrect contributions, I was much more hesitant and unsure of my efforts. The tiles vary hugely in terms of complexity, with some being  densely populated areas with different road networks and others being very sparsely populated or devoid  of both buildings or roads. Cloud cover and lower-quality resolution imagery also created issues, though there were different layers to switch between if one was compromised and often the pink border line denoting the boundary of the mapping area or tile disappeared, which meant saving and uploading what I had done and going back a few stages and reloading everything.

Another issue I documented was that of differences between what was shown on the Bing aerial imagery and the custom imagery. In the top screenshot using Bing, there are two buildings clearly shown towards the right, while in the one below, there are none. Also, the outlines of the two smaller buildings towards the left are offset in the Bing photo. As all the surrounding tiles were aligned using the custom imagery, I was hesitant to use what I saw using Bing. I could not determine which was the newer imagery, as it is possible the buildings on the right were either newly added or recently demolished. I spent a lot of time zooming in and out but there was no way to tell for sure. I checked the other imagery sources but they were of lower quality. Following the ‘Where does this image come from?’ link did not help me nor did searching the FAQ for the history and date of the images, though it is possible I overlooked something. I watched a tutorial on how to adjust offset imagery and attempted it but adjusting it to align with one source over another adjusted the surrounding tiles also and I was uncomfortable with that. I was very conscious of doing anything to change other people’s work. I imagine that using satellite as opposed to aerial imagery is more accurate and less prone to discrepancies but I found that particular experience frustrating and  time-consuming and was somewhat conflicted regarding the accuracy of my contributions. Further reading on the subject suggests that there are efforts to involve people with local knowledge who can verify and correct contributions as needed, but the sheer scope and scale of the various projects means that will not be always possible, especially in the case of a natural disaster where the need for accuracy is immediate and life-threatening.

Screenshot using Bing Aerial Imagery



Screenshot using Custom Imagery





MapSwipe was easy to navigate and use and I understand the benefits of having large swathes of land pre-identified for more intensive mapping. There is a gamefied element to the app which provides a certain reward or gratification from its use and as there are only 3 instructions for identifying a tile, it did not cause the same conflictions as HOTOSM. There were some glitches regarding tiles not loading and also cloud cover or low-resolution images making it impossible to identify features but by using the double tap ‘maybe’ option, it was not a major issue. It is easy to envision this being used by people when they have some spare time and it does not require anywhere near the same levels of concentration or ability as more intensive mapping. It is visually interesting and could appeal to younger users. However, some people might have reservations about whether gamefication belongs on the same platform as real people facing serious humanitarian issues.



While engaging in mapping projects for HOTOSM and MapSwipe, many questions arose regarding open-source versus proprietary data, possible abuse of collected data and the ethical implications of so-called ‘armchair activism’, as well as questions around attribution.

As Serge Wroclawski says in his blog “Place is a shared resource, and when you give all that power to a single entity, you are giving them the power not only to tell you about your location, but to shape it.”(“Why the world needs OpenStreetMap — Emacsen’s Blog,” n.d.) He points to Google as an example of a company that utilises and monetises user data and also controls what exactly gets displayed on the maps it creates. OpenStreetMaps seems to be the antithesis of this as a ‘neutral and transparent’ non-profit organisation. Recent attempts by Google to mimic the user generated content model  of OSM would seem to be a testament to this usefulness. However, unlike Google, all data and the source code itself can be copied, distributed, adapted and transmitted, as long as OSM is credited under its Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license. Bing, Yahoo and a number of other bodies such as regional governmental GIS agencies have allowed use of aerial and satellite imagery to aid in the mapping effort, though why a corporation like Microsoft would choose to give away this valuable resource is open to debate.


It is hard to deny the humanitarian objectives and aims of HOTOSM and MapSwipe, and the very real benefits it provides in times of crisis. It is also possible to envision the information being abused, such as for unethical drug testing by pharmaceutical companies, by human traffickers, terrorist organisations or by governments themselves. The real and immediate benefits would seem to outweigh these worst-case scenarios however. Another concern is one surrounding the ‘us-versus-them’ mentality and disassociation of swiping through an app on a mobile phone or outlining huts on a laptop in the comfort of one’s home, miles removed from the actual scenario. However, personally speaking, the more I engaged with the mapping, the more aware I became of the reality of what I was doing. I believe it can provide a valuable insight to how life is for people in other areas of the world. Also, as one of the objectives is to engage and involve people ‘on the ground’, it is a collaboration in the true sense of the word. The more data there is, the more people will want to contribute and the more useful the maps will become.

As part of my research into English Language resources available to migrants in Cork, I would definitely be open to using OSM to create a custom map with locations of facilities and organisations that could be of benefit. Another possible use would be to highlight the journey or origin of migrants who want to tell their story.

Websites and Readings