How Open Source maps helped Haiti

The World Bank has managed to pull off an excellent humanitarian relief effort, thanks to open source maps which could help them get an idea of the affected areas. Tom Buckley and Schuyler Erle are the team advising the World Bank on the use crowd-sourced mapping through the Open Source program openstreetmap, which is proving extremely helpful in relief and recovery effort in Haiti.

Erle has remarked on this, saying:

Since mid-January, we’ve seen a whole set of interlocking technical communities swung into gear to piece together geographic information to help relief efforts after the earthquake in Haiti: OpenStreetMap, Ushahidi, CrisisMappers, and so on.

Erle is an expert on map making and has authored famous books like Google Maps Hacks. The map was a community driven effort where people from different parts of the world came together to build a map for the affected area from aerial pictures and satellite views. Erle remarks on this, saying:

With basically no one calling the shots, while a thousand people painstakingly build a map database of Haiti drawn from aerial and satellite imagery that’s so detailed that the Ushahidi volunteers have to ask for a simpler version.

This effort has proven that Open Source is all about passion. This time, it was the passion of helping. As for other times, it is always the passion of free and open thinking.

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