We’ve seen excellent use of maps as a platform for real-time crisis response, with the Haiti earthquake providing the most compelling example. These have largely been on-the-ground efforts, with commercial satellite and aerial imagery used to create base maps that then in turn can be used by first responders on the ground. Now, GrassrootsMapping.org has taken to the skies, encouraging citizen mappers to use kites and balloons to document the Gulf oil spill from above for documentation of environmental impacts for remediation over the years to come.
The group offers tips on how to create your own aerial platform or you can join one of the organized data collecting trips. All the imagery that are collected by citizen scientists will become a public domain resource for further analysis.