Leveraging Our Collective Brainpower to Aid Communities in Need

With over 1,000 lives lost by the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in recent months, aid and healthcare work in these remote places is often hampered by lack of maps to inform of populations densities and locations of the people most in need.

Some of WSP’s UK and Australian offices recently joined forces to support Missing Maps – a collaborative project between international humanitarian non-profit organisations Doctors Without Borders Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Red Cross (UK and America) and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT).


HOT collaborates with both organisations leveraging open mapping to provide geospatial data in the areas where MSF and Red Cross work to provide emergency aid relief such as shelter, food and water. Furthermore, the effects of flooding and poor water sanitation have caused a cholera disease outbreak where MSF are treating over 100 cases every day.


WSP in the UK has supported Missing Maps Mapathons since 2017, and this year joined forces with Australia where the collective brainpower from 12 UK and Australian offices helped map over 2,000 buildings, over 20 km of waterways and over 330 km of road for Cyclone Idai and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Special thanks to Ritva Vilppola (WSP Australia, Brisbane) and Isabelle Farley (WSP UK, Bristol) and Olivia McBarnet (WSP UK, Manchester) who coordinated the first global Missing Maps Mapathon. Thank you to those from our Brisbane, Melbourne, Bristol, Manchester, London Chancery Lane, Basingstoke, Leeds, Birmingham, Exeter, Guilford, Brighton and Cardiff offices who gave their time after work to help put these vulnerable communities on the map.


About Missing Maps Mapathon!

This is usually the first step of the mapping process to map and validate information using satellite imagery with the help of local volunteers like us. These events bring together people and their brainpower to leverage applications like OpenStreetMap (OSM) to create rich data that the local MSF and Red Cross teams can use to help them do their work more effectively.



Figure 1: WSP ANZ Brisbane Office getting trained up by the local Missing Maps Representative



Figure 2: WSP UK Manchester Office working together on OSM


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