The current Ebola outbreak is the deadliest to date, having so far claimed more than 3,000 lives according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The hemorrhagic fever has spread to multiple countries in West Africa including Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. To help tackle the problem and provide help to those suffering, online volunteers from more than 80 countries are involved in a crowdsource mapping initiative.
The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) is a spin-off from the OpenStreetMap project, a free editable map of the world that is created by members of the public. Parts of West Africa have never been mapped, but geographical data is vital for efforts to combat outbreaks and treat those affected.
The crowdsourcing mapping effort makes use of manual surveys, GPS information and aerial information. Agencies can use the maps to get around and to position their medical teams and vital resources.
In an interview with All Africa.com, HOT board member Harry Wood said: “This is a part of the world where nobody has ever mapped things in great detail. At least they certainly have not made the results available for free. We have the means to do this, with a large community of volunteer mappers.”
The mapping Ebola crowdsourcing effort is still calling for volunteers. They can be based anywhere in the world with internet connection, and devote as much or as little time as they can afford. HOT also wants to map other areas of the world, particularly developing countries, in advance of future humanitarian disasters.
More details about HOT can be found here.
For information about Ebola, visit the WHO’s website.