POST: Volunteers are helping Puerto Rico from home, with a map anyone can edit

PBS’s blog The Rundown has published a post on recent mapathons held at Columbia University, Boston University, Trinity College, Miami University, the University of Miami, Rutgers University and University of Nebraska Omaha. The events are designed to gather mapping data to help relief organizations find routes for aid.

From the post:

More than 1,500 roads and bridges were damaged after the hurricane, and Puerto Rico’s transportation chief noted than rebuilding them could cost $240 million. And while some supplies have arrived at the port in San Juan, there are conflicting reports about how much aid is reaching Puerto Rico’s more-isolated communities, where mapping data can be the most helpful.

The scale of the need is “sort of unprecedented,” said Dale Kunce, who is in Puerto Rico, leading the international information and communication technology and analytics teams at the Red Cross. “We normally don’t have the mappers engaged in this way in the United States.”

Mappers used OpenStreetMap to map the data. At the participating universities:

beginners worked to validate existing data on OpenStreetMap by looking at satellite imagery and confirming that buildings and roads were marked correctly. More-advanced mappers filled out new data.

Volunteers worked on similar mapping projects after earthquakes in Chile in 2010 and Nepal in 2015.

The New York Times also covered the mapping efforts in a recent article.


dh+lib Review

This post was produced through a cooperation between Noah Geraci, Melanie Hubbard, Valentina Vavassori, Bebe S. Chang, Stephen Reid McLaughlin, and Kelsey George ​(Editors-at-large for the week), Sarah Melton (Editor for the week), and Nickoal Eichmann-Kalwara, Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Roxanne Shirazi, and Patrick Williams (dh+lib Review Editors).