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Participants of the Mapathon within the Missing Maps project in the premises of the Institute of Geography SAS

Places that are not on maps, but we need to know about them

2. 10. 2020 | 1554 visits

There are many places on Earth that have not yet made it to the maps. This fact can be a complication, for example, in areas where inhabitants need the help of rescue corps. This problem is also being solved by Slovak scientists. For the ninth time already, they organized Mapathon as part of the Missing Maps project, which took place on the premises of the Institute of Geography SAS.

"It is the map treasures which the participants created using a simple computer tool that will help field workers to make their activities more effective - for example, when intervening in the so-called slum areas where orientation is very difficult. At the same time, however, in addition to real help, Mapathon participants learn how easy it is to create maps and, of course, they will also notice the individual specifics of the given area in which humanitarian mapping is in progress,” said Tomáš Goga from the Institute of Geography SAS.

Missing Maps is a project of four humanitarian organisations: The American Red Cross, the British Red Cross, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), which provide assistance in areas affected by natural disasters, wars, epidemics. In their fieldwork, they struggle with a lack of map materials. Using the application with an open-source code called Tasking Manager, volunteers vectorize aerial images into a freely editable world map of OpenStreetMap.

"The outputs from the Mapathons then help medical and logistics teams in the affected areas to deal with various emergencies. In doing so, the volunteers need nothing more than their own laptop, expertise and desire to help,” added the geographer.

The ninth Bratislava Mapathon was attended by 13 volunteers who mapped buildings in the Central African Republic and Venezuela to give teams of doctors and rescuers a better overview of the local population density. Volunteers made 29,300 map changes in OpenStreetMap and vectorized a total of 2,384 buildings. Also thanks to their contribution, areas in Africa and South America may be better supplied with medicines, vaccines and food in the future.

Edited by: Monika Tináková

Photo: Miloslav Ofúkaný, http://fotky.promospravy.sk

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