A recent initiative at King’s brings students and staff together to build open source maps. Post-doc Faith Taylor says:
A mapathon is an event where members of the public meet up and work together to add data to Open Street Map, which is an open source, freely available GIS map dataset for the world. Open Street Map (OSM) is a bit like Google maps, but anyone can add, edit and download the data, which makes it an excellent resource for countries like Malawi. OSM data is generally created by the large community of volunteers who digitise points, lines and polygons from satellite imagery and old maps. In places where there is a good internet connection and lots of people interested in crowdsourced mapping, the maps are generally quite complete. But in places like Karonga, where access to computers and internet may be more of a challenge, the maps tend to be less complete.
To overcome this problem of “missing maps”, groups such as the Humanitarian Open Streetmap team and The Missing Maps Project organise drives to focus on improving the maps for specific areas. This has been incredibly successful before, during and after hazard events to help locals and responders understand what the infrastructure and landscape of an area looks like before and after a disaster.
This Friday at 1pm in the Pyramid Room, the team will work on improving the map of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The map will help to improve the delivery of urban services such as solid waste removal and access to clean water.
More information about the area and the mapping task is available here.
No experience or special skills are necessary to help out – just come along with a laptop and a mouse to contribute and hear more about how mapping from afar can help increase water access around the world!