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Gentilly Project

When a mega-disaster exceeds government planning or resources, the solution is to turn to local citizens and distant "unmet friends" to mobilize the resources, manpower, and materials to rebuild neighborhoods more quickly. Center senior research fellow Quintus Jett is leading a project that offers an organizational framework to facilitate more "open" participation in disaster recovery, combining organizational science, geography, and digital technologies.

New Orleans Rebuilds
, April/May Report

Gentilly Neighborhood Mapping Center, interactive online map

Gentilly Project, project website

Quintus Jett, Center for Digital StrategiesJett discusses open-source organizing.

Door-to-Door Map-making, a VOX article

Mapping Gentilly
Senior research fellow Quintus Jett has partnered with Xun Shi of the Geography Department at Dartmouth College to invent a prototype mapping system designed to deploy after neighborhood devastation, follow progress, and pinpoint what aid is needed where. By using this new public mapping system, everyone—researchers, developers, politicians, and local citizens—will be able to see what’s done, and what needs to be done, with the sole purpose being to accelerate rebuilding.

The first application of this mapping system is the mapping of the entire district of Gentilly, a severely flood-damaged area in New Orleans, home to over 40,000 residents pre-Katrina. The project's public mapping of over 12,000 homes is the most current, and comprehensive look at the rebuilding progress in the city.

This project hinges on providing public information that’s timely, accurate, and continuously updated. Rebuilding moves faster by determining accurate need and attracting the necessary assistance, not from government, but from neighbors arriving—that can be local citizens and "unmet friends" coming in from anywhere to lend a helping hand.

Jett's research employs organizational science and digital technologies to create an organizational framework that allows for an "open" participation in disaster recovery. Developing these tools and applying organizational models may help advance the understanding of how to manage network-based community participation, in conditions where strict bureaucratic and market controls are absent or infeasible. “I am addressing the here and now, while looking ahead,” Jett explained. “How should residents and volunteers respond and organize themselves after a disaster?”

"Largely Alone, Pioneers Reclaim New Orleans," The New York Times
"Reading between the Lines of the Gentilly Project," The Times-Picayune
"Gentilly Gets Going," The Times-Picayune
"U.S. Economy to Feel Katrina's Force," Boston Globe
"Can Heroes Be Efficient? Information Technology at the International Federation of the Red Cross" - a teaching case from the LaCorte Case Series
"NetHope-Collaborating for the Future of Relief and Development" - a teaching case from the LaCorte Case Series
"U.S. Bureau of Justice Funds Center Study" - press release