On Thursday, March 3rd 2016, a world-record humanitarian mapathon took place at Politecnico di Milano in northern Italy. Two-hundred and twelve 10-year old children from nine classes at six elementary schools in Milan province had the unique opportunity of meeting with researchers from GEOlab (Geomatics and Earth Observation laboratory) and HOClab (Hypermedia Open Center laboratory) of Politecnico di Milano, who introduced them to humanitarian mapping.
In cooperation with HOT and Missing Maps, the team led by Prof. Maria Antonia Brovelli, Dr. Marco Minghini, Dr. Monia Molinari and Dr. Aldo Torrebruno showed children how to map buildings in the northernmost part of Swaziland in a project for malaria elimination (task #1577).
The results of the mapathon have been incredible: more than 40,000 edits to the map, more than 1,000 changesets and more than 5,000 buildings mapped in only a few hours of work. Knowing that their maps will be used to help local people in Swaziland, children were simply fantastic in performing the mapping task in a unique, passionate, and enthusiastic way. Some of the young mappers did not want to return to class because they had remaining buildings to map in their task areas!
According to their teachers, by participating in the mapathon, the children developed a deeper understanding of the issues related to mapping and humanitarian relief projects. Besides representing the first event of this kind - in terms of number and age of the children involved - the mapathon has demonstrated that children possess all the skills to build accurate maps and that mapping represents an invaluable tool for their education.
“In our community, we often say mapping is for everyone -- the young and the young at heart. This incredible event organized by forward-thinking Polimi faculty demonstrates that children can make a significant impact to both OpenStreetMap and life-saving public health programs. Getting children involved early is key and we look forward to working with the next generation of humanitarians and GIS/open data specialists! Congrats to all involved.” -- Tyler Radford, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Executive Director