The use of digital mapping for intercultural policy-making


One of the most important features of our times is the ability to access a wealth of information unimaginable just a few years ago. But to translate information into knowledge we need tools to filter, compare and analyse the information.


One of the instruments that have been developed more recently and provide great opportunities for the management of public policies, including in the field of intercultural relations, is the digital mapping of a territory.


Barcelona has used this method to shape policies in the field of migration management and interculturality. A few years ago the City Council commissioned the development of a web portal that allows the mapping of various kinds of information related to immigration, cultural practices, places and organisations.


The result was the Immigration Portal de Barcelona a valuable tool to visualise and better understand the demographic changes taking place in the city recent years.


The portal is structured as a city map and enables the search of information from multiple variables that can display various units of territory: by district, ward or smaller units. T


he information that can be displayed is very diverse: statistical information regarding the city population profile and nationality: the number of people, places of residence, age, gender, births etc.


On the other hand, the map incorporates a lot of information related to migrant associations, organisations dealing with intercultural dialogue, centers of worship of different faiths, and relevant social, educational, cultural and health institutions and organisations.


The possibility of crossing several variables and displaying them simultaneously on the map allows deepening the perception and knowledge of a complex and rapidly changing reality.


For example, we can "create" maps that show and compare the degree of dispersion or concentration over time of citizens of different nationalities. We also have the possibility to compare the place of residence of citizens of a particular nationality with the location of the entities that offer hosting services or public libraries to assess the degree of closeness with one another and help us better understand the more or less that can make use of these services.


When "we click" over a neighbourhood table appears that details all the statistical information we have chosen. And if we click on the symbols of the institutions or places of worship, the table will show explanatory information, a link to a web site etc.


The interactive digital maps can be converted into a PDF to attach to any document, study or press release.


The portal is intended for general public and obviously for policy officers. But it also of interest to some groups such as journalists, researchers and students etc. facilitating access to objective information in an area that is fundamental transparency and rigor in order to deepen their knowledge and avoid the consolidation of stereotypes and clichés.


 Daniel de Torres