the beast in the steeplechase is a dynamic map on the web that displays important information along
“The beast”, the freight train that crosses Mexico from south to
north. Everyday thousands of migrants use the train to travel from
their hometowns to the US border. Our website gives them information about
railroad routes, shelters, dinning centers, dangerous municipalities,
principal border crossings, Mexican consulates, and detention or
migration offices. The identification of these points can make their
journey less dangerous, and in some cases Beat
the beast in the steeplechase could represent the difference between life and death.
salaries, lack of jobs, no education opportunities, and high levels
of insecurity are some of the causes that push millions of people to
migrate from their hometowns to the
US. Migrants travel with the dream of improve their quality of life.
However, before reaching the country that may provides them job
opportunities, they face the struggles to travel thousands of miles
with limited resources.
application is made for those men and women who travel on the freight
train because they do not have money to pay for a
bus ticket. The train nickname is “The beast” because of
the many people that lose
their lives in their attempt to travel to the promised land. Migrants
travel in very bad conditions for long periods of time, with limited
food, and with the risk of falling
sleep and fall down from “The
used the name Beat the beast in the steeplechase
as an analogy of all the difficulties migrants face in their way to the
US. Specially, since
it is well known that migrant’s routes are hubs of criminal
organizations, which take advantage of migrant’s vulnerable
situation to do several illegal activities.
is important to mention that our objective is not to promote legal or
illegal migration to the US. The purpose of the application is to
give migrants useful information to alleviate some of their
difficulties in the journey. We think that our map will not change
people’s decision to migrate, because migration is a very complex
social problem that exists despite the huge political efforts to
reduce it, but it can give directions to find help and be aware of
dangerous points. The innovation of our project is the collection of
the information, the friendly way in which the information is
presented, and the potential to grow in the future, because it could
be used as a community tool where anyone can update information.
the beast in the steeplechase is
a dynamic map on the web that displays the
following information layers:
Places where migrants can stay overnight without paying fees.
centers: Places where migrants received free food and water.
routes: Mexican freight rail routes.
offices: Places where the Mexican Institute of Migration (MIM)
provides legal services to visitors and migrants who want to stay in
Mexico on a temporary or permanent way.
municipalities. Municipalities that are dangerous for immigrants by Comision Nacional de Derechos Humanos.
crossings: Principal Mexico’s international crossing borders.
consulates in the US: Mexican representation in USA
layer provides different information that can be used by itself or
together with other layers. For example, users can select train
routes, dangerous municipalities, and shelter locations. This
selection could be used to plan the trip, since the migrants can
avoid stopping in dangerous municipalities or they can try to travel
through those areas during the day.
application also shows users how far the next shelter or a dinning
Additionally, users have access to important site information just by
clicking in the different icons. For example, users
have access to shelter name, address, and phone number. It also
provides direct access to the shelters website, in case it has one,
just by clicking in the shelter name.
the beast in the steeplechase features
- Base layers: backgrounds and topology
- Punctual Data
- Multiple languages (Spanish and English)
- KML files (Google Earth)
- Download data
- Adding new data
This feature allows users to change the base layer. It
can be used to modify the predefined background layer (the
OpenStreetMap which has a white background with principal highways, cities names and
other information provided by the community).
Other background options are NASA topography
and GEBCO topography. These two options
allow users to see the terrain along the railroad routes.
The base layer
can also be used to select one fixed layer in the map.
The default layer is Dangerous Municipalities,
but users can change it depending in their necessities.
the application was developed to be used mainly by Spanish speakers,
it has two language settings: English and Spanish. The language is
automatically determined by the predefined browser language
configuration. If the browser configuration language is in Spanish, the
application will show the web content in Spanish. If the browser
configuration language is in English, or any other language, the web content
will be display in English.
of the layers can be download as a KML file. This file can be used
by any KML client like Google Earth. This feature can be used to
display the data provided by our application with other information,
for example all the data from Google Earth.
feature allows the user to change the opacity of
individual layers by clicking the plus and minus icons in the Transparency
menu. This feature is very useful when multiple layers are display at
the same time because it allows the user to see in a very light color
the information layer without limiting the visualization of other
data is an important tool that allows anyone to have access to ALL
the information that is display in the application. This feature
allows users to download the data directly from the website.
This is very important because, as most of the people participating
in this event should know, access to data could be a challenge, and
specially georeferenced data. With our application all the data is
available and it can be download as shape files, well know GIS
format or as KML, which can be displayed in clients like Google
earth. We think the information should be open to the public,
especially because we would like this application to be a community
collaboration tool used by the migrant community and stakeholders
interested in the topic.
In the current version of our website it is possible to add new shelters easily by using a web form and locating new shelters directly on a map. This feature can be extended for the other layers and, in the future, it could be used to add different types of data . Using a web form like ours to add new data makes it very easy to maintain a website and increases the life span of the project.
information is contained in this application came from different
sources. The list of dangerous municipalities is based on information
from the Mexico’s National Commission for Human Right (CNDH).
Migration offices, Border
crossings, Mexican consulates in the US, and Detention Facilities are public information published in different institution websites.
centers were collected from different websites on the internet. We know that our application
does not have all the existing shelters and dinning centers. However,
feature will allow people to update the information in the future.
So far, we think or application is a good start point that can be
improved with community collaboration.
the beast in the steeplechase has
a great potential to grow because it can be used as a collaboration tool by different stakeholders to bring together useful information
for migrants and their families.
fact, this application can be used to join efforts of different
participants in this contest. For instance, we
could display English volunteers from ConnectENG
in the map, information about job opportunities like Inner
and warnings and tips similar to Invisible
also know that many migrants do not have access to internet and
therefore they do not have access to the application while
But it can be used by shelter's administrators, NGO’s, and political
leaders to provide migrants with this information. It also can be
used by migrant’s families to located missing people. Since they
can find detention offices, shelters, and dinning centers information
all in one place. If a migrant has been arrested, families would be
able to find migration or detentions offices location and information
within a click.
In the future the Adding Tool could be expanded for sharing dangerous places to avoid or report crimes.
Beat the Beast in the Steeplechase