Mapping Exercise

Number of shops mapped

We cannot say with certainty that all of the spaza shops in Monwabisi Park were mapped. The layout of the park was unplanned, evolved over time, and is haphazard. As a result, especially off of the main roads, mainly windy paths, and dense sections of shacks. It can be difficult to locate spaza shops in these areas. Even with our co-researchers’ knowledge of the settlement, we often stopped for directions. Because of this, it is unlikely that we found all of the spaza shops in Monwabisi Park; it is a large, dense area, and we determined the time and effort required to perform a completely comprehensive scan for all businesses was unwarranted.

Google Earth

After we moved through Monwabisi Park and acquired the names and GPS locations of the shops, we considered how to present this data on a map. We explored two different software mapping programs, ArcGIS and Google Earth. Both programs are capable of taking in mapping data and displaying it in a presentable format. Eventually we decided to use Google Earth because it had a much simpler learning curve, and provided all the functionality needed.

Google Earth allowed our team to place a point on the map for each spaza shop we found. For each shop, we would refer to our numbered list of spaza shops, open up the corresponding way point in the GPS device, and input the latitude and longitude values.  We named each dot based on the number we had assigned to that spaza shop. In addition, we input notes in to the description for the point.  We saved the map images in a jpeg format; in order to easily print them, post them online, or email them to our sponsor.

The entire mapping exercise took us about five days to initially complete. However, because we didn’t obtain the use of the GPS until we had already mapped around seventy five shops, we were forced to go back through the park in order to gather those coordinates. We did this throughout the rest of our time in Monwabisi Park, as we traveled through the area performing other activities. We also sometimes gave the co-researchers the GPS, and they gathered while we worked on other parts of the project.