New tools, new geographies
Twenty years ago (February, 1996), just a few years after NAFTA took effect, new border region mapping efforts started being developed and published by the Shared-Water Resources Issues Team from the U.S. Department of Interior. Spanning across eight different watershed systems, this first generation of post-NAFTA border area integrated maps were developed using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The United Stated developed a data base that allowed to map resources, such as watercourses and watershed beyond the political boundary that were based in available information from 1984 (from the U.S. Geological Survey’s State Hydrologic Unit Maps), and 1981 (from Mexico’s Dirección General de Geografia del Territorio Nacional, Carta Hidrólogica de Aguas Superficiales).
These expanded and integrated maps, or what I like to call new geographies*, enabled thematic initiatives, such as the U.S-Mexico Border Environmental Health Initiative Regions. More sophisticated and extended maps are currently developed by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, including the complete North American territory (Canada-United States-Mexico), and are made publicly accessible through this North American Environmental Atlas.
*New Geographies is a concept that evolved into a journal developed by the Harvard School of Design and published by the Harvard University Press. “It aims to examine the emergence of the geographic—a new but for the most part latent paradigm in design today—to articulate it and bring it to bear effectively on the agency of design. After more than two decades of seeing architecture and urbanism as the spatial manifestation of the effects of globalization, it is time to consider the expanded agency of the designer.”