mapathon-1

With Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ humming in the background, about two dozen students at George Washington University traced skinny lines and square-shaped landmarks on a satellite image of a rural chunk of Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines. They are in the early stages of piecing together a map of the region where half of the country’s food is grown but where most people live in poverty.

The students carefully scanned the photos to scope out buildings and roads tucked between thick trees. The task is painstaking but necessary to create an up-to-date map. This corner of the Philippines — like large swaths of the planet — does not have any recent digital maps.” SOURCE: Washington Post

Crowd-sourced mapping is increasingly an important resource during an emergency and one of the best ways to put geographic knowledge and geospatial skills in action.  Many high school and college students around the country are learning mapping skills by creating maps for places that aren’t well-mapped and in great need.  Poorer places are often not as well mapped out by the commercial cartographic organizations and these are oftentimes the places that are most vulnerable to natural disasters.  Relief agencies depend on mapping platforms to handle the logistics of administering aid and assessing the extent of the damage and rely on these crowd-sourced data sets.  My students and I are working on this over the weekend; can you join in and help?  The projects that are marked urgent by the Red Cross are all in Haiti right now.  Here are is a video playlist that explains the project and how you can help if you are new to OpenStreetMap (OSM).  The embedded TEDx talk below discusses the advantages of using OSM in geography teaching.

GeoEd Tags: cartography, disasters, mapping, STEM.