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The Portable West Bank

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, September 21 2010

Wired's Spencer Ackerman profiles "Facts on the Ground," a new iPhone/iPad app from the DC-based Americans for Peace Now that plots Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mapping Israeli settlements isn't new, but the iOS touch screen format has an baked-in affinity for zoomable, annotated geography (and, for that matter, easy updating) that seems to lend itself to this kind of project. That said, Spencer says that the data driving the app, in particular, has some limitations:

The app has its limits -- functional and, inevitably, political. One of the biggest West Bank settlements is Ma'ale Adumim, a 35-year old town of nearly 34,000 just outside Jerusalem. A blue trend map on Facts on the Ground's info bar for Ma'ale Adumim shows that its population has increased steadily since 1990. But it doesn't clearly show the baseline population from 1990, making it difficult to gauge just how rapidly the population has grown — an important issue for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who argues that construction in the settlements to allow for so-called "natural growth" in their populations is diplomatically distinct from settlement expansion. Also, the map doesn't allow a viewer to gauge exactly how a settlement is from the '67 border.