Using advanced location-based analytics to deliver context about communities in crisis, Black Eyed Peas founding member will.i.am is looking to transform lives through education, inspiration and greater opportunity.
You’re probably surprised a seven-time Grammy-winning recording artist is familiar with location-based analytics, but the American pop star, entrepreneur and philanthropist is a long-time advocate of GIS technology.
will.i.am recognises technology as a way for young people all around the world to escape a life of struggle, and since launching his i.am.angel Foundation in 2009 has championed the fact location intelligence can empower youth to succeed at school, and in life.
Following an unprecedented wave of gun violence and terrorist attacks, the 41-year-old and his fellow Black Eyed Peas have given their 2003 smash hit Where Is The Love? a refresh.
The new version features a carousal of stars and icons – Quincy Jones, Snoop Dogg, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Vanessa Hudgens, Justin Timberlake, Jamie Foxx, Mary J. Blige – with proceeds from the song going towards the educational programs and college scholarships funded through i.am.angel.
As a tie-in to the 2016 #WheresTheLove campaign, the foundation and Esri have released the results of a project that maps all US neighbourhoods – allowing you to easily join the dots between poverty, education and prison.
To inject real-world perspective into the information, the story map – Where’s the Love? Where’s the Education? – gives particular attention to locations that have recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons, including Sanford, Florida, and Ferguson, Missouri.
Concerning is the disparity between spending on incarceration versus education – which is made glaringly obvious when using the built-in swipe tool to alternate between the two datasets on a map of the US.
The most powerful inclusions in this story map, however, are probably the simplest: an area chart highlighting the spike in US prison inmates since 1982, and a point chart which costs keeping a student in school compared to an inmate in prison.
Awareness is the key here. will.i.am is pushing these insights into popular culture as he identifies poor education as a catalyst for unemployment, crime and a distrust of authorities.
By communicating the facts in a language that everyone can understand – geography – he’s hoping to open the eyes of others and usher in positive change to mend a broken system.
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