U.S. Consulate Lahore celebrates Geo Awareness Week with Local Universities

U.S. Consulate General Lahore in collaboration with Digital Humanitarians organized a series of “Mapathons” to celebrate Geo Awareness Week 2015 with over 117 volunteer students from five different universities.

The students used “open mapping” technology to create maps of roads, bridges, and buildings that will assist international response efforts to earthquakes in Haiti and Afghanistan. More than 80 events were organized across the globe in celebration of Geo Awareness Week (http://osmgeoweek.org/events/). Out of which four were organized in Lahore. Mapping sessions were organized at Kinnaird College for Women University, Beacon House National University and University of Management and Technology. Students from Forman Christian College University, University of the Punjab and TEVTA participated in the Mapathon organized at United States Education Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) facility. These citizen cartographers edited more than 19,000 roads and buildings via online mapping software this week. The event gave Pakistani students an opportunity to learn about digital mapping and interact with open mapping experts in other parts of the world, who discussed the important relationship between maps and humanitarian aid.

MapGive (mapgive.state.gov) is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Humanitarian Information Unit. The maps created by MapGive initiatives are being used in assisting relief efforts throughout the world. Through remote mapping and shared satellite imagery, citizens, government, the private sector, and academics are demonstrating the power of collaborative, open innovation, helping to solve challenges, create opportunities and respond in the face of tragedy. Open map data helps rescuers and aid groups get to the people they need to help. Updated data is being used for logistics and planning by operational responders (including the American Red Cross and Nepalese Red Cross, other NGOS, and UN agencies) and by organizations supporting them.

MapGive is filling gaps through the provision of high-resolution satellite imagery and assisting with metrics, visualizations and analysis to mobilize virtual crowds and improve the data to bring attention to this unique form of digital volunteerism.

The Lahore Mapathon was supported by a number of volunteers who helped train students and organize the events. The Rector of the University of Management and Technology (UMT) Dr. Hasan Sohaib Murad and the Principal Kinnaird College for Women University, Dr. Rukhsana David, thanked U.S. Consulate General Lahore for organizing the events and said that the activity helped students become a part of humanitarian relief activities from their homes and campuses.