My proposed project, Kenya Bird Sounds, is to develop a mobile-based website that maps posts from Twitter onto a map of Kenya. By using publicly available mapping data (via Google Earth or other publicly available aerial photography), I will draw onto the site’s map the approximate edges of Nairobi and other several large towns through a process known as geofencing. Initially, I had intended to focus the map solely on the region around the Maasai Mara National Reserve, drawing in geofences for the Reserve and several nearby privately-run conservancies. I still plan to mark these, several community centers in the region, and many of the roads that connect all of them. But, because of a lack of Twitter use in the region, I have decided to expand the map out to a large portion of Kenya (if not the entire country); hence the decision to geofence Nairobi and other towns as well.

This will be a mobile-based application. I will use jQuery mobile to build the site and CartoDB for the map itself. The map will simultaneously display the most recent several dozen tweets to register on the currently-displayed map area, which will be pulled straight from Twitter. These tweets will remain in place, even if users zoom in or out on specific parts of the map for more detail, and will only refresh when the user presses the appropriate button.

I initially had hoped this application would have a number of uses in the conservation-rich area in and around the Maasai Mara National Reserve, but the lack of Twitter use in the area, even by visiting tourists, has put a dampener on that hope. I had hoped that this application would allow for animal tracking through reported sightings, especially of some of the area’s rarer species of animals. Such tracking would not only allow for a better ecotourism experience by helping drivers locate crowd-pleasing animals with less effort, but let park rangers better manage the amount of time individual animals are bothered by stopping animal access when they have been visited by too many vehicles or for too long of a time.

This tool could also prove useful in exploring social disparities between groups in terms of smartphone access and use. The presence or absence of tweets or, if available, the nationality of the tweeter, will reveal where those that use Twitter gather. Furthermore, it could show which groups of people, who gather in specific areas, do not use Twitter. I am still geofencing the relevant cultural features in the Mara region because, at some future date, this application could still become a useful tool in exploring these ideas, at which time the geofenced markers in the area would become relevant.