Be a Hero. Draw a Map.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Posted by: Nathan Swartzendruber
I’m still troubled by an NPR interview I heard four months ago with
Emily Veltus, a health educator who’s working with Doctors Without
Borders in Sierra Leone.
Her base of operations was an Ebola
hospital in the region. At the time of the interview, the hospital had
seen 204 confirmed Ebola cases, 53 survivors and 110 deaths. “Each
time we bring a survivor home, we hug the person in front of their
family and friends to show they’re not a risk. And we like to get the
family together and take a photo with them. We have a wall of survivors
in our office.”
While the 2 Ebola deaths in the U.S. have
received lots of attention, it’s difficult to make sense of over
6,000 deaths and over 17,000 Ebola cases in West Africa. The number
of cases seems to still
be accelerating. They need more help.
One of the challenges
of working in that region is the lack of current maps. Maps help health
workers travel, but they also help visualize where people live, estimate
population sizes, and anticipate routes that people (and the disease)
might take. You can help draw the maps in West Africa.
open-source online project, lets anyone add to and edit their map of the
world. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap
Team coordinates with Doctors Without Borders and other
organizations to identify needs and the U.S. government and private
companies to provide satellite imagery for crisis locations across the
world, including West
Using your web browser, you can trace roads and
buildings in the satellite images. To date, over 2,500 people have
edited over 12 million map objects for the Ebola mapping project. They’re
making progress, but there’s still lots more work to do. You can
help by learning how to map from OpenStreetMap or MapGive.
In about an hour, you can be ready to edit a HOT Task.
Swartzendruber, SWON Technology Educator
Host a Mapping Party
A library is a great
place to teach people how to become OpenStreetMap contributors. Provide a
group, from teenagers to adults, with computers, an internet connection
and a bit of instruction, and they’ll be off and editing.
has done several online trainings and logged several hours of mapping.
He doesn’t profess to be an expert, but he’s eager to share what he
knows and, if you’re interested, lead a mapping party at your library.
Contact Nathan at email@example.com
or (513) 751–4422 to learn more.