Humanitarian Mapping Program To Help Nepal Earthquake Recovery Efforts

Technology to the rescue
Pallets of supplies, including shelter kits and lanterns are loaded onto a Royal Air Force plane headed for Nepal. DFID - UK Department for International Development/Flickr CC by 2.0

The death toll of the earthquake that shook Nepal over the weekend just topped 5,000. Aid is slowly getting to people who badly need it, but frustration at the slow pace of relief efforts continues to mount.

Hundreds of thousands of people need food, water, shelter, or some combination of the three, not to mention the numerous people who desperately need medical care. Faced with scenes of such devastation, many people want to help, but what’s the best way to do that? Jumping on a plane to Kathmandu is a bad idea. Giving money to reputable aid organizations is much better, but if you want to do something more tangible in addition to a financial donation, all you need is a computer and time.

An organization called the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) is looking for volunteers from all over the world to look through satellite imagery of Nepal and label and map roads, buildings, and other vital structures that can help relief workers on the ground get aid to where it is badly needed.

“You start to realize what important—they’re asking you to map wells because there’s only water in every couple of villages, or you’re mapping pharmacies because people need malaria meds. You feel like you’ve spent time in these places after spending hours digitizing aerial imagery. You end up with a connection with people you didn’t know anything about.” Blake Girardot, activation coordinator of HOT told Co.Exist.

To participate, take a look at the various guides and tutorials available to people just getting started with the mapping process.