November 16, 2015
By Emily Hooper
DALLAS (SMU) – SMU community members will get the chance to improve their mapping skills and help vulnerable populations in developing countries at the Missing Maps Mapathon from 3-6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17, in Fondren Library.
During the Mapathon, volunteers will make crowd-sourced maps to help communities and non-governmental organizations better respond to crisis affecting vulnerable areas in the world. The Mapathon is a come and go event from 3 – 6 p.m. in SMU’s Fondren Library and volunteers are encouraged to bring their laptops.
SMU Central University Libraries is sponsoring the event to support its new initiative in spatial literacy. Spatial thinking is the ability to visualize and interpret location, distance, direction and movement over space. Missing Maps is an organization dedicated to helping vulnerable people in the world and is a joint effort between the American and British Red Cross, the humanitarian OpenStreetMap team and Doctors Without Borders.
The Missing Maps process begins with remote volunteers tracing satellite imagery into OpenStreetMap, a free, editable map of the world. Then community volunteers (such as those at SMU) add local detail, such as neighborhoods, street names and evacuation centers. Lastly, humanitarian organizations use mapped information to plan risk reduction and disaster response activities that save lives.
This fall, Missing Maps is focusing on Ecuador, Haiti, Kenya, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan and directly supporting local mapping efforts of the ground. As the one year anniversary of Missing Maps approaches, over 3,500 volunteers have attended mapathons in 11 countries, making 12 million edits to the OpenStreetMap and putting 7.5 million people on the map. The SMU Mapathon will provide volunteers with a unique opportunity to make a difference in another corner of the world.