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Mapping the data: How one UK charity helped the aftermath of Nepal's earthquake

Margi Murphy | June 11, 2015
Deploying relief workers and aid following a natural disaster needs to be strategic to avoid wastage, prevent conflicts and contain disease; that's why charity MapAction use GIS and data to provide charities and governments with predictive analysis tools.

Internet problem

Online maps are a luxury for the organisation as often there is no network to connect to in the aftermath of a flood, or earthquake.

While larger organisations like the International Humanitarian Partnership provides satellite communications and tents during disasters, MapAction "need to be self-sufficient" to ensure it can help others in the first instance of a disaster.

"You can't expect anything when you get there. We share things with people like PDF and paper and have put a lot of thought into the different ways people like to gather and share information without reliance on the internet," White said.

Funding

With eight full and part time volunteers, funding is an issue. Vodafone once funded the organisation but has since pulled out, so it relies on money fromthe Department for International Development (DFID) and occasionally through projects that firms pay for their services.

As well as providing maps following disasters, MapAction trains local people to analyse information rather than international staff that "will move on". They also offer training to other charities and national mapping agencies, but need money to simply exist.

"It costs £500 to get jabbed up to go out to a disaster at a drop of a hat."

GIS vendor Esri UK provides software licenses and brochure printing services for free, but with the DFID funds running out next year, the organisation is looking for its next donor.

 

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