Let’s map together

Disaster relief behind your computer (and a little time)

“Seventy two hours after this happened, thousands of people who are amateurs at this or brand new to it have mapped something like 30,000 100,000 buildings,”

Technology has brought humanity that much closer to helping out (mostly monetarily) during disasters. The current post-quake humanitarian crisis in Nepal reminds us of just how seamless “giving” has become. One can use services such as Square Cash or Facebook to give directly to organizations that are efficient in disbursements or can run campaigns for several other humanitarian organizations through Crowdrise (the Ed Norton led, $24mill in VC money charity platform).

It is on Crowdrise that I came across the campaign to raise money for Dan Fredinburg. Dan’s story is all over the internet, but within that I discovered that Dan had spent several of his climbs / trips / adventures to Everest to help map the various ways one can tackle the clime from base camp. He was also part of the team at Google that enables us to travel to places where we might, perhaps, not be able to physically go with ease.

It is therefore interesting to find out about some of the mapping solutions that can actually be used from our own laptops to help people recover from this ugly disaster. A very well written article in Fast Company lays out how this can be done and even provides the resources that one can use to map buildings, roads and other infrastructure for aid workers.

Using the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) wiki, which is the “wikipedia” of maps, one can learn how to map the missing parts of Kathmandu’s roads and buildings. The progress is astonishing. 100,000+ buildings have been mapped and more road than has previously existed in Kathmandu maps. One can see the animation here.

So, as Blake Girdot of HOT says:

The group is looking for more volunteers. It’s possible to learn what to do — and start helping — in less than an hour. “If you can use a computer and mouse, after 45 minutes, you can really be contributing data that’s literally saving lives,”

We should all click to help.

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