11.15.2011

Urban Politics: A Bird's Eye View

 Aerial view of Occupy UC Davis - from publiclaboratory.org
Ubiquitous communications and media technology used by private citizens as well as public authorities and the military came to be a defining feature of the Arab Spring protests across the Middle East. The complexity of the technology employed at demonstrations, riots, flash mobs, and other urban spectacles only continues to increase, and accordingly the view of these phenomena that is available to the outside observer is getting more direct, detailed, and rich. One of the latest developments is the use of various technology to capture audio and visuals that aren't confined to the street level or one person's point of view.

In Oakland for example, Public Laboratory experimented with using cameras attached to weather balloons to create this bird's eye view of the crowd at "Occupy Oakland":


Then there is this video of recent riots in Warsaw, taken from a flying Drone:


It will be interesting to see how both private citizens and public authorities develop and make use of these technologies in an urban political environment where the conflict plays out both on the level of the physical geography of the street as well as the semiotic dimension of media and images.

For more information on grassroots mapping, check out http://grassrootsmapping.org/ . For more information on drone technology, check out http://diydrones.com/

Have more imagery or examples of tech that is providing new vantage points for observing and mapping public protest? Post a comment and let me know!

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