Inspiring A New Generation Of UN Mappers


NEW YORK, 21 May (Office of Information and Communications Technology) — As Italy confronts the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have had to explore new ways of teaching through distance-learning techniques. In this context, the Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT) is proud to announce that the Unite Maps team in the United Nations Global Service Centre in Brindisi, Italy conducted a humanitarian mapathon in March.

Tenth grade students of the Fusinieri school in Vicenza were tasked to use OpenStreetMap – a free and editable mapping tool of the earth – to improve the mapping data in southern Somalia, an area that spans over 700 kilometers. Unite Maps also leverages OpenStreetMap.

The mapathon is part of the Unite Maps Initiative, and aims to map essential features to produce enhanced topographic maps in support of the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS). The Unite Maps team members who supported the mapathon include Rachele Amerini, Michael Montani, and Rafael Avila.

Thirty-five novice students, with no previous experience in mapping, participated in the mapathon. They were provided with supporting documentation and videos, and after the week-long mapathon, a considerable amount of data was submitted and uploaded to OpenStreetMap.

The teenagers mapped and uploaded more than 4,000 objects and 3,000 km of roads and hedges to OpenStreetMap—a substantial contribution to the UN geospatial databases, which will help the Unite Maps team produce more accurate maps (they reviewed/validated all data quality submitted by the Fusinieri students).

This kind of community-based project creates opportunities to explore innovative teaching and crowdsourcing methods for geospatial data. It also reaches and attracts a larger number of volunteers to the UN mapping projects, enabling a more engaged interaction with civil society.

The Unite Maps initiative is building a thriving community – called UN Mappers – that focuses on crowdsourcing the collection, validation, usage, and dissemination of geospatial data.

Contact Diego Gonzalez at UNGSC if you want to get involved, learn more, collaborate, become a sponsor, or propose a mapping activity.

Follow UN Mappers activities on Twitter and Facebook.