View Chennai, Tamil Nadu in a larger map
Transparent Chennai is a local organization that has been aggregating, collecting, and displaying data for public interest use about the Indian city of Chennai. Access to this information helps residents better understand the needs of the city, as well as the local government's response to these needs. Much of the data is available via interactive maps containing various layers of social, political, jurisdictional, and environmental information about the city. Staff and volunteers of Transparent Chennai have done much of the previous data collection, even though there exists an open invitation for the general public to submit their own information to the database of knowledge.
For this pilot project, Transparent Chennai will add new elements to their existing work by focusing on directly engaging two local artisanal fishing kuppams (villages) in South Chennai. The residents of Usur and Olcott will take part in hands-on workshops where they will learn how to contribute to the map, marking the boundaries of their village, land use patterns – especially how different livelihoods in the community use space outside of their homes and along the water, identifying local resources, points of historical and ritual importance, and gaps in local infrastructure and in government services. The youth of the villages will also take an active part through the use of digital cameras to photograph life within the kuppam, and to post these photographs as a way to create another layer of geotagged images to the map.
This project will engage these villages that have been engulfed by the expanding borders of the city of Chennai. Despite laws in place to protect the coastline from rampant development and to preserve the rights of traditional fishing communities to their land, both Urur and Olcott kuppam are currently threatened with eviction to make way for an elevated expressway the government is planning to build along the city’s coast. The project leaders have discussed the proposed project with the fishermen's panchayats or local governing councils, and together they feel that it is particularly important to bring other voices and other notions of the city into the local and global conversation, so that these voices too can be valued and preserved as an essential part of modern Chennai.