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News — 15 November, 2015

Don't get left behind...

The buzz of Geography Awareness Week, has reached far corners of the world. This year’s theme “Explore! The Power of Maps” has inspired more than 60 groups to join HOT and the Missing Maps partners during November 15 – 21 in support of Geography Awareness Week.

(Guest Post by Drishtie Patel)

The buzz of Geography Awareness Week has reached far corners of the world. This year’s theme “Explore! The Power of Maps” has inspired more than 60 groups to join HOT and the Missing Maps partners during November 15 – 21 in support of Geography Awareness Week.

November is also important to us because the 7th of this month marks the one year anniversary of the launch of Missing Maps—a collaboration between American Red Cross, British Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières-UK, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, CartONG, and the Netherlands Red Cross.

Our goal is to map the most vulnerable places in the developing world to create better maps and data to respond to crises. We have seen the power of crowd-sourced mapping and an influx of digital volunteers wanting to help. Through its partners, Missing Maps aims to focus on communities that don’t get the big news headlines, and need the support of data just as much to strengthen their communities. Thus far, 4000 dedicated volunteers have helped to make 13 million edits, added over 1.6 million buildings and put 8 million on the map in the past year.

A few hours of remote tracing with your friends directly helps to save lives thousands of miles away. For example, earlier this year volunteers and students in different countries remote traced areas in Harare, Zimbabwe. This allowed the Missing Maps team to travel to Zimbabwe and map an area called Dzivarasekwa as part of an urban disaster risk reduction project with the goal of strengthening community safety and resilience to reduce the number of deaths, injuries, and socio-economic impacts caused by urban risks.

Zimbabwe Red Cross Collecting Data for OSM

In January 2016, a team will travel to Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo to pilot a new tool for analyzing and responding to cholera epidemics. This tool relies on geographic data to display where cholera patients are and how the disease is spreading, helping NGOs to respond faster, saving more lives. Hundreds of you have mapped this city of over three million people to the building. We hope to finish this over OSM GeoWeek and this is an incredible achievement!

We cannot thank you enough! We’ve passed the halfway mark with 65 confirmed mapathons and it’s still not to late to sign up. We have plenty of guidance on how to host your own mapathon and an array of tasks to chose from on the HOT Tasking Manager. You can also read more about the history and purpose behind Geography Awareness Week.

I'll leave you with this quote by Muhammad Ali - “ Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.