A long babbly post without any photos to distract you! (I will resume my holiday-picspams soon, don't worry;) I felt this was important enough to not put behind a cut, so you can read about my day right away without clicking;)
Today at work we organized a Mapathon for Missing Maps, a worldwide project in which you can help to map areas where humanitarian organisations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people. A lot of co-workers from other departments/towns joined us for this event; we had 112 participants in total! Some of them had never mapped before, so cool. At the end of the day we had put 42,815 buildings and 16,912 km of road on the map for the Panchagarj district in Bangladesh!
Of course I'm a little biased because mapping is my current job and I love it so much, but if you're looking for a different (and free!) way to do some good and you have time to give
, I recommend giving this a try. No experience necessary; everyone can do it! Read all about Missing Maps here and find out if there's an event planned near you!
(They really are being organized all over the world:)
Not all these events are as huge as the one we did today, for example some are small university get-togethers for an hour or two, but if you're not comfortable with groups, you can participate hermit-style from the comfort of your own home!
All you need is a computer and access to the internet. You don't need to install any programs, you just open an account on Open Street Map (they only need your e-mail and a password) and you can start right away. (Go to MissingMaps.org
, click on 'contribute now' to learn to map:) They have an instruction tutorial that new people found very helpful, but if you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to ask me!
I also want to promote an even easier way to help put people on the map in disaster areas: download the app MapSwipe
on your smartphone to join a simple but effective crowdsearch for buildings and/or roads, so humanitarian organisations will know where to go. The app lets you choose an area in the world that needs attention and will tell you what to look for. Then it shows you small squares of satellite images (about 100x100 meters IRL). All you have to do is tap the square if you see buildings or roads: 1 click is yup (the image will turn green), but you can also click for nope or not sure. When you're done, you swipe to the next images. Ideal for when you're tired of feeling like you're only playing pointless games on your phone;)
*steps off soapbox* Today was a long day, but so very satisfying:)
I got up extra early because I had to sign in participants and help people get started. Once everyone was set up, I could do a bit of mapping myself, but I did some supportwalks in between;)
At the end of the day I was also asked to join a team on a side project in St. Maarten, a Dutch/French island in the Caribbean that was hit by last months hurricanes. The Dutch Red Cross wanted us to do a damage assessments on roofs to find out how much materials were needed for repairs.
It was really overwhelming to see how that hurricane had hit certain areas; while there were still intact buildings, there was this random path of destruction right through all neighbourhoods.
Very sobering to realize disaster can hit anyone.
In these daunting times I often feel so helpless, even when I have some money to throw around, it feels like I can't do enough. Today reminded me that there are plenty of ways to make a difference. I'm glad I got to be part of this.