[Andrew Johnstone is an artist, muralist, 3D computer designer and enthusiastic geomapper. He was the creator of the first 3D fly-through simulation of Black Rock City (originally using Microsoft Flight Simulator software), and he crafts the 3D models of the Man and Man base found on the Burning Man website. He has been the Project Lead of the Burning Man Earth Project since its inception in 2005. This post is part of the Metropol Blog Series.]
In 2005, our city designer, Rod Garrett, saw Black Rock City as the perfect Petri dish for technological experiments in geographic data and digital inter-connection. He began to assemble an exceptional international team of creative innovators and programmers, and formed the Burning Man Earth Project.
Burning Man Earth
This volunteer team designed mapping and communication tools to enable Burning Man attendees to better locate themselves and others within the city, to communicate within the area, and to access and contribute information about artworks and events. The project was aimed at providing a managed digital space to encompass all of the physical facets of the Burning Man experience, both in real-time functionality and as a permanent archive.
It was imagined that this work also had implications beyond the limits of Black Rock City. These tools of “where enabling” would have application for populations isolated by natural disasters, refugee camps, or other devastations. The remoteness of the Burning Man event provides an ideal opportunity to test and adapt our programming into proven solutions for disaster relief. And as it is completely open-sourced, others are able to use and build upon it.
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Oil Spill Mapping in the Gulf Coast Region Photo: Stewart Long
Last week Andrew Johnstone of Burning Man Earth said:
This morning Stewart Long, who does all our hi res aerial stitching, flies out to Louisiana with equipment designed for BRC to provide imagery for the clean up efforts. I am again humbled that our efforts to record Black Rock City are applied to real world problems to make a tangible difference.
I knew that Burners around the world would want to know more about how Burners are taking it upon themselves to make a difference. Stewart says we can follow their mapping of the oil spill at Grassroots Mapping. And here is Stewart’s report posted today:
One week into the grassroots mapping of the Gulf of Mexico crisis, the first local New Orleans team is now in place. Support coming in from regional agencies, fishermen, universities, various media: PBS: DIY Mappers.
The Burning Man Earth team has created an iPhone Application to help rescue workers on the ground in Haiti as they help the country recover from the recent devastating earthquake. Andrew Johnstone of the BME team wrote to Carmen Mauk of Burners Without Borders to tell her about it, as BWB teams are hard at work on the ground in Haiti.
The prospect of their future aspirations for this project depends on resources, volunteers, and money. If you’d like to help with forwarding this technology, email bmanearth (at) burningman (dot) com. Andrew writes:
Just to let you know that as soon as the Haiti quake hit, our main software developers for Burning Man Earth, Jeff Johnson and Mikel Maron, both got their sleeves rolled up and put together an interactive iPhone app with up-to-the-minute cartography for rescue workers on the ground. I am humbled that they are on our project and honored to call them friends.
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