April 15, 2019--Georgia Tech’s Rishab Mokkapati, University of Connecticut’s Maura Oei, Georgia Tech’s Elianna Paljug, the U.S. Naval Academy’s Kelsey Melinosky (pictured above L to R) and hundreds more students representing universities from around the U.S. gathered at Georgia Tech in Atlanta for the three-day, Stamps Scholars 2019 National Convention. As part of their commitment to service, around 80 scholars, interested in a healthcare or a related field, spent the better half of their Saturday morning helping to map an area of Temanggung, Indonesia.
Missing Maps, founded by the American Red Cross, the British Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team, aims to reduce risk, help speed up recovery efforts and ultimately foster community resiliency by mapping out vulnerable areas throughout the world—before a large-scale emergency or disaster occurs. The project plans to map 20 million people, word-wide, and has already seen success in Bangladesh, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Rwanda.
“Imagine trying to find a hospital or gas station in an area of the world you’ve never visited—without GPS software or a map,” said Jennifer Pipa, CEO for Georgia’s Red Cross. “Now imagine trying to do so amid the chaos we often see immediately following a large-scale disaster. It would be impossibly difficult and extremely inefficient.”
With up-to-date maps, emergency responders and humanitarian relief workers can focus on how they can help, instead of spending time and resources to figure out exactly where help should be going. Saturday’s volunteer-mappers mapped out an area in Indonesia’s Central Java using satellite imagery, laptop computers and Open Street Map software. They focused on identifying buildings as houses, businesses or larger structures, like schools and hospitals.
Elianna Paljug, a Biomedical Engineering major at Georgia Tech stated, “We’re all passionate about service, so getting a hands-on experience that will help others is really special.”
Following a Missing Maps map-a-thon, local volunteers work with community officials and residents to add detail, like street names.
Once an area of the world has been mapped, it becomes part of the Open Street Map database and is immediately available to anyone in the world. Then, with maps created by volunteer-mappers, various institutions around the globe can work to plan risk-reduction projects and help advocate for solutions to better access remote areas with medical supplies and humanitarian aid—especially as related to emergency response and emergency management.
Saturday’s map-a-thon was co-facilitated by Georgia Tech students and Stamps Scholars, Sarah Freeman and Madi Luker – who worked with American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces and Veterans Intern, DeAndré Godboalt, to ensure a successful event.
“It’s been wonderful,” said Madi Luker. “Sarah and I were really excited to do our part here at Tech to help get supplies to people who might suffer from a disaster.”
To learn more about Missing Maps or to plan a map-a-thon for your group or organization, please contact Maria Najlis at firstname.lastname@example.org.