Missing Maps is an innovative project which uses remote volunteers to map the most vulnerable areas of the world, so that humanitarian agencies, local NGOs and individuals can better respond when crises occur. It was set up in 2014 by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the British Red Cross and the American Red Cross.
The project brings together thousands of volunteer mappers, many of whom have no previous mapping experience, to map remotely on an ad-hoc basis. Their task is to ‘trace’ satellite imagery of vulnerable communities which currently lack detailed, accurate maps, such as areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Mozambique. In practice, this means identifying and marking features like buildings, roads, and terrain on satellite images from sources such as Bing.
The impact of Missing Maps
Once a section of map is completed, further details are added and verified by local volunteers in the field, and are then made freely available via Open Street Map. The resulting maps are powerful tools which can be used by humanitarian organisations to help in activities such as the provision of aid, distribution of essential resources and in carrying out epidemiology studies to enable effective responses to disease outbreaks.
Just as importantly, it provides the local residents of some of the developing world’s most at-risk areas with accurate maps that they can use in their daily lives and to improve resilience in the face of emergencies.
Anyone can participate in the Missing Maps project, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve got five minutes or five hours to spare. All you need is a laptop or desktop computer and an internet connection, and no previous mapping skills are required.
**Your leader must act as the assessor on this task. Please speak to them about this before starting this volunteering opportunity and ensure you collect evidence showing the commitment you have made to mapping**