Missing Maps: A local volunteering project with a global impact

Y Care International volunteer Carmen Sumadiwiria, brought together groups of local volunteers for a project with a global impact.

Many of the most crisis-prone parts of the world remain unmapped. This means crucial support and medical supplies are often delayed or unable to reach those who need them most when disaster strikes.

Carmen helped launch the Missing Maps project to digitally map vulnerable places in Bangladesh. These can be used now by local people and organisations to respond to emergencies.

This all started with a few laptops in the UK at a Mapathon. Young volunteer helped gather information for ‘undermapped’ areas in OpenStreetMap. They used satellite imagery to draw the basics of a map so volunteers in Bangladesh can add details about health facilities, schools and other points of interest to assist our work on disaster risk reduction.

 “Mapping is such an intuitive way to bring people together and I really think that it will foster friendships between people that will last beyond the time they share a common physical space.

“As the Open Street Map community grows, it is important to build relationships across the globe and encourage the sharing of information. My big hope for this project is that it can be replicated in other countries and across different projects.”

The Missing Maps project was piloted in two locations in Bangladesh; Birisiri and Chittagong.

“My big hope for this project is that it can be replicated in other countries and across different projects. Mapping communities allows you to understand so much more about the social, cultural and political structures around them in a way that no textbook could ever teach.”

Based on the pilot project a research report was produced to understand what factors influence the production of maps and how this impacts what is eventually represented in those maps. Click here to read the full report.

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