Futurespotters Video Interview: Eric Barrett from Jumpstart Georgia in Tbilisi, Georgia

Another raw interview from the Tbilisi workshop - we also saw an inspiring presentation from Eric on their work with DIY aerial mapping and building tools to compare and display changes in photos of locations over time.

Meet @ericnbarrett from Jumpstart Georgia:


Jumpstart Georgia expresses a technical, evidence-based approach approach to solving social problems, often through data-driven advocacy and storytelling. Usually the final ‘product’ is a web-based tool or application. Jumpstart tries to stay on top of international developments in this field and they try to use open source technology wherever possible, to ensure their work can easily be replicated elsewhere in a low-cost way.


What Jumpstart faces in Georgia is not dissimilar to other countries: there are challenges with building activism, lack of creatvity in trying to solve issues, lack of trust in using technology over traditional methods, many organisations are set in their ways. Donor support is often lacking in grassroots, experimental initiatives, which go unnoticed or ignored in favour of ‘tried and true’ establishments.

This creates an environment where it is difficult for large established actors to innovate or experiment, and also keeps creative approaches from reaching their potential through a lack of funding. Many of the traditional approaches are also ineffective, especially in the longterm. Grassroots processes, if done correctly, can provide for longer term results that continue well beyound the initial funding.

Spot the Future:

The networking aspect of the Spot the Future workshop has been very important, many participants didn’t know about the others before. Now there’s a feeling that they’re not alone in their work and that they can provide support and resources to one another in a different way, using what they have rather than relying only on traditional donor models.

Eric was initially sceptical of Edgeryders due to having seen many ‘parachute projects’ in the past that claimed to have a mystical platform which would unite or create communities, but Edgeryders is different - it doesn’t promise anything but instead provides a useful medium which people can springboard off, which makes him more optimistic.

What you can do to help:

Information exchange - it’s a form of affirmation that they’re not alone in what they’re doing. In Georgia people often reinvent the wheel, but it’s because they feel alone, or they don’t know that there are others out there doing similar things. It’s useful to havce a mechanism which brings people together around common causes because they benefit from the support and the collective information which may otherwise elude them.

Are you or someone you know working in open data or technical approaches to problem solving? check out the projects on jumpstart.ge and get in touch with @ericnbarrett here on the platform to see if you can help each other out.

We’re also pitching in pledges to buy a small drone for Jumpstart, so that they can effectively create aerial imagery of Georgia over time, and provide the community with this dataset and the tools you need to work with it. When we have a link, we’ll post it here.