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Humanitarian mapping event a success!

nov-15_humanitarianmapping3On Tuesday, November 15th, about sixteen undergraduate and graduate geography students crammed into the front of the InfoGraphics Lab to learn about humanitarian mapping. The event began with some socializing over pizza, and then people settled down to their stations on their laptops, crammed around tables with the pizza. Dr. Chris Bone, who organized the session, gave an entertaining overview of YouthMappers.org, a national organization that provides special projects for students groups to work on. He then guided everyone through the basics of how to essentially digitize structures and how they would be used for projects.

nov-15_humanitarianmapping4The project assigned to us via YouthMappers was for a malaria spraying project in rural Kenya. Students were tasked with focusing on drawing points, lines, and shapes to designate roads, rivers, houses, and more, over aerial imagery brought into YouthMappers.org via Open Street Map. The data will eventually be used to guide spraying efforts by NGOs in Kenya.
nov-15_humanitarianmapping2Students were excited to begin the project and they learned quickly how to digitize and interpret basic information on the ground. By the time we wrapped up, however, students were beginning to realize that digitizing can be pretty mundane. However, given that it’s week 8, that there has been a lot of anxiety around national events, and that this is all for a good cause, students were eager to say that while it seems boring, the zen of settling in to the digitizing process was actually relaxing and fulfilling.
nov-15_humanitarianmapping1The only real anxiety of the evening was music choice. At last someone mentioned Kenny G. Once we turned that on, we were quickly able to decide on an alternative (The Black Keys).

So! As a result, we intend to offer this activity at least once a term, maybe week 7 or 8, to give students a chance to zen-out and make the world even a slightly better place! If you’re interested, stay tuned for announcements in your classes, the department Facebook page, and the GeoDigest emails that area sent to geography majors.