Ufuoma Ovienmhada Publishes Paper on "Perspectives from Anti-Prison Community Organizers on the Uses of Geospatial Data"


Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

PhD candidate Ufuoma Ovienmhada, undergraduate researcher Ahmed Diongue, and Prof. Danielle Wood published a paper on "Satellite Remote Sensing for Environmental Data Justice: Perspectives from Anti-Prison Community Organizers on the Uses of Geospatial Data."  The abstract reads:

"In recent years, journalists and researchers have used mixed methods to characterize a pattern of prison landscapes being exposed to environmental hazards such as air pollution, proximity to hazardous facilities, and inadequate mitigation in extreme weather—a pattern frequently referred to as “prison ecology.” However, no studies have sought to characterize the perceptions of organizers across U.S. cities who work at the intersection of prison and the environment, and the potential or limitations of data to support ongoing activities. We conducted 22 semi-structured interviews with organizers that work on issues related to prison and the environment to understand the tactics and challenges in prison ecology organizing, and opportunities or limitations of geospatial data and technology development to support desired outcomes. Results indicate that prison ecology organizers regularly engage data and mapping to support their campaigns and challenge the state's control over information. However, activists reported that some data tools are overly burdensome, insufficient, or difficult to master. They also report a desire for new and accessible data and mapping tools since there are numerous gaps in knowledge about prisons and environmental concerns. Finally, activists articulated specific changes that they would like to see in the U.S. carceral system as a result of mobilizing around the use of key data sources. Our findings advance the study of the data practices of community organizers by providing insight into how different mediums of data and digital tools are currently integrated into activism. This article also offers constructive reflections into how datafication, and specifically remote sensing (RS) technology, can further be brought to bear on prison ecology. This work can be useful to any scholar-activists aiming to develop RS for prison ecology organizing or environmental justice more broadly."

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