Update for week of 13 February 2017

Missing Maps: Volunteers sign up for ‘Mapathon’ held in DIT Bolton Street 

On Wednesday 8th of February DIT students from the BSc Geomatics, BSc Geographic Science, MSc Geographic Information Science and MSc Spatial Planning took part in a Missing Maps Mapathon, organised and sponsored by Esri Ireland in collaboration with Concern Worldwide.  The objective was to map buildings and roads in Cité Soleil, a shanty town located in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.

Described as an area where 300,000 residents live in extreme poverty with no running water, electricity or sewers, Concern has just commenced a 5 year aid programme that will focus on improving water, sanitation and hygiene education and livelihoods generally.  The area was largely unmapped, making access and logistics extremely difficult.

Esri Ireland, a software and services organisation specialising in the application of geographic information systems, approached Concern last year to offer help by adding details such as buildings and roads to open-source maps. 

Working in collaboration, the two organisations planned a series of Charity mapathons using the ‘Missing Maps’ initiative which involves volunteers from all around the world in completing missing mapping information to assist humanitarian organisations to respond more quickly to crises brought about by natural disasters or conflict.  

In Bolton Street, students were assigned an area in Cite Soleil which consisted of approximately 200 grid squares and were given initial instructions on how to trace buildings from satellite imagery and upload these onto an open source street map.

To put the task in context, Ellen Ward from Concern Worldwide gave a presentation on the organisation’s work in Haiti, where three quarters of the population survive on less than $2 a day.  In 2010 it was struck by an earthquake, killing 300,000 people and more recently it has been devastated further by floods and hurricanes.  The presentation made it clear how important the mapping project would be in helping agencies to deliver much-needed assistance. 

Once mapped, community volunteers will then add local knowledge such as neighbourhoods and street names - information that is critical for Concern Project Teams to plan where to focus their project work.

Mapathon in Bolton Street was the third such event sponsored by Esri Ireland who, throughout the afternoon, provided spot prizes, food and goodies to keep volunteers going as they worked with heads down to trace buildings and roads from satellite imagery.

For more information about the Missing Maps initiative go to at http://www.missingmaps.org/.

More information about the work done by concern in Haiti can be found at:  https://www.concern.net/where-we-work/caribbean/haiti