The social justice issue I have chosen to represent through a mobile application is environmental justice. Environmental justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies (Mohai, Pellow, & Roberts, 2009). Environmental injustice takes place in many forms throughout our country and ultimately our planet every day. Environmental justice is a very broad term that encompasses many fields of study, so I’ve decided to focus on a certain aspect within so that my application remains feasible through it’s design.
I’ve decided to build a mobile application that addresses the many man-made environmental injustice’s that occur within our country, and are so often unheard of through mainstream mass media. The mass media of the United States has often been known to attempt to set the agenda for what the citizens of our country should think about and discuss with one another. For obvious reasons, many stories of negative implications to the “agenda” of our news outlets often leads to numerous stories regarding environmental injustices to be altered and often avoided altogether. Frequently, the citizens of our country are simply unaware of the many injustices which occur everyday in our country and continuously threaten the well-being of our environment. This is an injustice to all as man-made environmental incidents occur many times with little to no knowledge of the incident within the public sphere.
The mobile application I am going to be designing will be called “Take a Walk” and it will be created in an attempt to improve the visibility of the effect man and his machines have our environment. Many man-made environmental mishaps that are detrimental to a company or reputation of an specific area do often not receive the media attention that they deserve. This lack of media coverage can slow clean-up and other general efforts that would exist to bring justice to perpetrators and provide relief to the affected environment. There are many people that are willing to help through physical efforts or donations to help preserve the health of our environment, but many times they simply never know an event has occurred. These events could be any sort of man-made environmental mishap such as oil spills, fracking accidents, etc.
The “Take a Walk” mobile application will be based on an interactive map of the United States that provides links to various current and past man-made environmental mishaps that have occurred across our country. In design, the application will be available for download through iPhone/Android app stores, or can be accessed through a traditional web browser to increase viewership. Upon “clicking” into specific location the user will be provided with various statistical information regarding the environmental mishap and surrounding area. In theory the app will implement the technologies utilized by Google Earth to represent the 3-D street view of various locations. I believe this same 3-D imaging technology could be used to create interactive environments in which a user can “walk” through an affected environment and personally “see” the impact that we can leave on our environment. Understandably not all incidents will be applicable to be 3-D photographed, and instead these will be documented to the highest degree available, so that the damage and negligence to our environment can be seen through data and images. If a user “Takes a Walk” within an environment perhaps they will be more convinced of the wrongdoing that occurs through various means and will be more inclined to provide effort for change. There will be various ways that a user can connect within the app to provide help to these affected environments and the people that inhabit them, either through simply increasing precedence over the issue or through donations of any sort. I believe an application like this could bring rise to a larger understanding of how the media sets the agenda for how we view our environment, and how the mistreatment of it is portrayed or completely avoided within mass media outlets.
Our environment is “Where we live, work and play but also where we worship which is something very important that we need to take into account…” (Adamson & Stein, 2000). Even if it’s indirectly, nearly everyone is affected by detrimental actions to our environment. This application will be designed with ease of use in mind so that any smartphone user will be able to explore various affected environments through a variety of means (click from map view, list by region/state, list by incident type, etc.). I believe the duty of staying educated and informed of our environment and the injustices faced by it, falls on the shoulders of everyone. However, the end user of the application will be those who can access the application through a smartphone or computer and are willing to explore environmentally impacting incidents that may have not appeared on mainstream media. Even if this application opened just a few individuals eyes to the power of the media and it’s casual avoidance of major environmental catastrophes, I would consider the application a success.
Mohai, P., Pellow, D., & Roberts, J. (2009). Environmental Justice. Annual Reviews.
Adamson, J., & Stein, R. (2000). Environmental Justice a Roundtable Discussion. Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, 155-170.