Humanitarian mapping - Missing Maps Brno
Teams from Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, and other humanitarian organizations often operate in areas for which there are insufficiently detailed maps. Without maps, it is impossible to plan vaccination campaigns, evaluate health data or perform epidemiological analyses.
That is why humanitarian mapping was created. As part of it, humanitarian organizations and volunteers worldwide make maps of crisis-prone areas based on satellite images. Volunteers from different countries can thus contribute to mapping remotely from their homes' safety, updating maps in regions affected by disease or natural disasters, coordinating teams in the field, or planning health activities.
OpenStreetMap, a free editable world map environment, is used for this. Humanitarian mapping in OpenStreetMap is coordinated and technically ensured by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. Together with important humanitarian organizations, he is the founder of the worldwide Missing Maps project. The Czech and Slovak community is an integral part of it, including our Missing Maps Brno group.
The Czech and Slovak community of the Missing Maps project are among the most active in the world - in terms of the number of mapping volunteers, the number of mapathons, and the amount of data created. The Czech and Slovak community is in close contact with Doctors Without Borders. But we also create data for other humanitarian organizations.
Anyone can map independently from home (you can learn more on these beginner pages), but it's more fun to map with a group of friends with whom you can debate and share experiences. That is why mapping meetings are organized where a group of volunteers maps a certain area together. These meetings are called mapathons. Their content is not only joint mapping. The participants learn something about the mapped area and why a humanitarian organization's intervention is needed in the given place. Mapathon participants can also attend various types of training, where they gain new knowledge on how to map better - from beginners to advanced mappers to controllers of the created data. Mapathon is a unique opportunity to learn about mapping, improve your skills or help others who are just learning.
The first Czech mapathon took place in May 2016 in Prague. The second Czech city where the mapathon took place was Brno - in November 2016. Since then, mapathons have been organized regularly in Brno. Our group of organizers under the name Missing Maps Brno contains mapathons in Brno in various places: at the Department of Geography, as part of various conferences, or in companies that decide to host the mapathon on their premises. Members of the Missing Maps Brno organizing team participate in the organization of mapathons in other cities of the Czechia and Slovakia. Many of the members of Missing Maps Brno are connected with the Department of Geography - we include teachers, PhD students, students, and graduates.
We are very grateful to the Department of Geography for the opportunity to use the premises and technology of the institute and promote humanitarian mapping among students!
In a classic mapathon, volunteers gather in one place and map together. The advantage is that the volunteers can advise each other, and after the mapathon, they can go together for a beer if they want.
During the pandemic (in the first half of 2020), many mapathons moved to the Internet, and online mapathons emerged. Their advantage is that even those for whom the location of a classic mapathon is too far away can participate. It is often impossible to determine whether the mapathon is organized by Brno, Prague, etc. mapathon. Organizers and participants from various cities in the Czechia and Slovakia participate. The following list, therefore, contains only a few Brno mapathons in 2020-2022. However, the organizers of Missing Maps Brno were not lazy at that time. They helped (and continue to help) with online mapathons organized by other groups of the Czech and Slovak community of the Missing Maps project.
In recent months, the organizers have been trying to restore the classic mapathons, where everyone maps (and has fun) together in one place. Still, at the same time, they want to keep the advantage of an online mapathon - the possibility of remote participants connecting online. Thus, hybrid mapathons were born, which combine mapping in a group at a certain location with the possibility of joining the mapathon online from other cities. In 2022, the Missing Maps Brno group also participated in the organization of these hybrid Brno mapathons.
By the way, do you know that one person can check the data for 36 hours during a three-hour mapathon? Yes, it is possible without a time machine. If you're wondering how this is possible, ask us at one of the next mapathons. We will be happy to teach you!