Crowdsourced Mapping Boosts Humanitarian Aid Efforts
By admin April 4, 2016


nepal-tech-labs-articleLargeAlthough the technology has been around for over a decade, crowdsourced mapping has been readily utilized on a larger scale for disaster response and in international relief since the Haitian earthquake in 2010.

In collaboration with other technologies like drone photography and satellite imaging, cartographers and agencies are able to gather information at unprecedented scales, even to the point of needing thousands of dedicated volunteers to sort through the information and data mine social media for more information. The work can be monumental.

Relief workers, victims, and volunteers all over the world can use programs like MapGive, OpenStreetMap, Standby Task Force, PyBossa, MicroMappers and Digital Humanitarian Network to map needs and locate services. Two or three volunteers are required to review each data point to ensure accuracy. Unlike previously, when volunteers had to map needs by hand using scant information, they now have a veritable cornucopia of material at their disposal, resulting in the need for more volunteers, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

The newer mapping software requires much less training for a volunteer to be able to participate, but the technology also presents challenges, such as places where people lack access to the cloud network, hostile governments, and non-complicit potential contributors.

Agencies can augment their use of crowdsourced mapping by using technology such as drone photography and satellite imaging; however, humans are still required to sift through, analyze, and assess the resulting images and data. These new software and technology tools have been used to assist relief efforts in many of the major disasters of recent years, including but not limited to earthquakes in Nepal and Chile, typhoons in the Philippines, and the current refugee crisis. Furthermore, the Carter Center has been using similar concepts to map and track ceasefires as well as military, paramilitary, guerilla, and terrorist forces in places like Syria in order to keep abreast of trends and maintain peace. Even Facebook has been using its location services during natural disasters and terrorist attacks to quickly disseminate information to family and friends regarding the safety of those in affected areas.

While new technology presents new challenges, digital crowdsourced mapping also presents a wealth of opportunity for rescue and relief workers to be able to locate and provide for victims in a timely and more comprehensive manner.


For additional information:

Disaster response gets boost from AI, crowdsourced data

Digital Humanitarian Response: Moving from Crowdsourcing to Microtasking

3 Ways Nepalis Are Using Crowdsourcing to Aid in Quake Relief

With Every Tool Possible: Supporting Humanitarian Aid Efforts Through Crowdsourced Mapping

How to Crowdsource the Syrian Cease-Fire

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Thanks for sharing !

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