It’s hard to believe, but many parts of the developing world that are most vulnerable to humanitarian crises, like natural disasters, disease outbreaks, epidemics or conflict, are still not mapped digitally or on paper. Without comprehensive maps, response times can drastically increase during natural disasters or disease outbreaks making it harder to reach people who need help.
Missing Maps aims to create digital maps of the world’s ‘forgotten’ places to help international and local humanitarian agencies respond better to crises affecting the area. Missing Maps is a collaboration between a number of organizations including the British Red Cross, the American Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.
On October 13, as we marked the International Day of Disaster Reduction, employees from Aviva Canada took part in a Mapathon initiative from coast-to-coast, helping to put vulnerable communities on the map. The volunteer mappers provided support to Red Cross projects in Haiti for Hurricane Matthew disaster relief efforts as well as a Measles and Rubella elimination initiative in Malawi. This was part of a larger global Aviva mapping effort, involving over 900 Aviva employees throughout Asia, Europe and Canada on the same day.
Aviva Canada joined the Canadian Red Cross as a national corporate partner of the Ready When the Time Comes program in 2015, helping to provide essential relief and recovery support to Canadians affected by disasters. Aviva Canada is also the National Founding Partner of the Canadian Red Cross’ Community Health and Wellness program, which aims to meet the current and emerging health needs of Canadians.
How mapping works
Through an online portal satellite images are overlaid onto OpenStreetMap software. Volunteers trace the outline of buildings, roads, parks and rivers using an easy point-and-click tool. When the satellite image is removed a digital city map is produced. Next, the maps are populated with street names and landmarks by local communities. Finally, the completed maps are posted back to Missing Maps where volunteers add the data digitally. The result is a city map that is open source and free forever.