U.S. Consulate Lahore Holds Mapathon for Nepal at Information Technology University

Forty-one students volunteered their time today for a “Mapathon” organized by the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore in collaboration with the Information Technology University and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The students used “open mapping” technology to create maps of roads, bridges, and buildings that will assist international response efforts in Nepal in the wake of recent earthquakes. In just three hours, these citizen cartographers edited more than 4,000 roads and buildings via online mapping software. The event gave Pakistani students an opportunity to interact with open mapping experts in Washington, D.C. and learn about 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 the MapGive initiatives are being used in assisting relief efforts in earthquake-hit areas of Nepal.  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, or respond in the face of tragedy.  Open map data helps rescuers and aid groups get to the people they need to help. In Nepal, updated data are 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 with maps and analysis.

MapGive is filling gaps through the provision of high-resolution satellite imagery and assisting with metrics, visualizations and analysis to mobilize the crowd and improve the data, and to bring attention to this unique form of digital volunteerism.  A lot of high-quality data on key infrastructure – such as roads, hospitals, and schools – already existed for Nepal, thanks to Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL). KLL, a local NGO, was instrumental in disaster preparedness projects with the World Bank, and the State Department’s Humanitarian Information Unit collaborated with USAID to support that mapping effort. Since getting back online after the quake, KLL has been working as the local focal point for a global volunteer effort, broadening the scope and level of detail on the map, within Kathmandu and beyond.

The Lahore Mapathon was supported by Computer World – IDG, Coca Cola, New Yorker Pizza, and USAID.  Digital Marketing Pakistan provided technical support for the event.  Public Affairs Officer Rachael Chen participated in the #Map4Nepal mapathon and presented certificates to the students at the conclusion of the event.