Is Mapeo right for me?
There are many tools and pieces of software that you could use for making maps and collecting data. Mapeo was designed to meet the needs of specific users, who:
- are collecting data in primarily offline environments
- often have limited previous experience with technology
- are working collaboratively on mapping or monitoring projects and using shared data sets
- want ownership over their data and the power to decide if and when data is shared with external actors or centralized servers
- have specific data collection requirements
- want to view and gather information in their native languages
- need a tool that is free to use
Mapeo may not be the right tool for all projects. When evaluating whether Mapeo will be a good choice, we encourage you to try out the tools (see the Quick Start Guide) and please keep in mind the following:
- Equipment requirements Mapeo Mobile is currently available for Android only. (An iOS version is in development for 2022.) Mapeo Desktop works on Windows, Mac and Linux machines. Mapeo Mobile uses Wi-Fi networks to synchronize data between devices. To synchronize data with Mapeo Mobile in offline areas, you will need a portable router (this does not require an internet connection) or a third device capable of creating a local network offline or hotspot.
- Peer-to-peer architecture The Mapeo tools are based on a peer-to-peer database, which means there is no centralized server aggregating information collected by users. Two devices that are participating in the same Mapeo project can synchronize or exchange data at a time. Synchronized devices have identical copies of the Mapeo database and can serve as backups if a device is lost or damaged. Please note that data that has not been synchronized will not have a backup. For more details on peer-to-peer architecture and syncing, see Peer-to-peer & Mapeo sync. It is important to think through in advance how the participating users or devices in your project will share information, as there are a variety of possible synchronizing patterns. For more on this, see Creating user protocols.
- Customization and required technical skills Mapeo comes with out-of-the box options that can be used right away, without any customization. To learn more about whether these default options will work for your project, see Will Mapeo work out-of-the-box for me? Mapeo was also built to be highly customizable and allow users to adapt its interface to meet the needs of specific projects. Mapeo is currently available in many languages and can easily be translated into new ones. Adapting Mapeo to use custom categories, icons, questions and background maps currently requires significant technical knowledge and will not be accessible to all users. If you believe customization will be necessary for your project, please consult the section on Customization options to determine whether your team has the required technical skills.
- Security As an offline-first, peer-to-peer set of tools, Mapeo can offer a path for data collection and exchange with fewer technological vulnerabilities than other available tools. However, the use of any technology can introduce new security concerns and risks. Before choosing to use Mapeo or other alternatives, we strongly encourage reviewing the section on Security & risk assessment.
If Mapeo doesn't seem like the right fit for your needs, check out the Toolfinder on our Earth Defenders Toolkit site to learn more about other tools for territory mapping and monitoring.