IFRC joins Missing Maps

13 September 2017

We are excited to welcome the newest member of the Missing Maps partnership: the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). For those who aren’t familiar, in informal terms, the IFRC is the umbrella organization that encompasses independent national Red Cross societies in 190 countries and helps to coordinate and support these national societies. This is a cross-post from the IFRC’s official announcement.

Building Maps is Building Trust

We are pleased to announce International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent Societies is joining the Missing Maps Partnership. Missing Maps is an open, collaborative project in which you can help to map areas where humanitarian organisations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people – creating open data that can be used for planning, awareness, and analysis. Over 33,000 people have contributed 33 million edits to OpenStreetMap since Missing Maps was founded in 2014. These contributions have been used to support health interventions, emergency response, and resilience programs. Volunteers, organizations, and humanitarians collaborate in a number of ways: remote mapping, field mapping, and humanitarian activities.

Missing Maps (HOT) London Event, photo by Harry Wood, CC BY-SA

Founded by the American Red Cross, British Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, Missing Maps connects a global community of volunteers to humanitarian response. Other Movement members also include the Netherlands Red Cross and the Canadian Red Cross. Some of the mapathon activities initiatives include mapping tasks in support of work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Nepal Red Cross Society, Tanzania Red Cross Society and Malawi Red Cross Society. Mapathons have been hosted by many national societies including Finnish Red Cross, German Red Cross, and Luxembourg Red Cross. As we grow this program, we anticipate more collaboration across the Movement.

In addition to mapathons and remote activities, Missing Maps often involves field mapping with local Red Cross volunteers to add additional detail and context to the map. Previous field mapping activities (led by the American Red Cross) have supported measles vaccination monitoring in Malawi, the construction of a water pipeline in Zimbabwe, the identification of vulnerable border communities as part of Ebola recovery in West Africa, and the installation of fire sensors in an informal settlement in South Africa… to name a few. The scope of these projects varies from community-level mapping to larger-scale initiatives; in West Africa, volunteers visited 7,000 villages to collect information.

“Building Maps is building trust,” IFRC Under Secretary General, Jemilah Mahmood. Engaging local communities and volunteers with Missing Maps provides an opportunity to link our work to more volunteers, including youth and as well as technical audiences.

One of the first IFRC Missing Maps projects to be launched is pandemic preparedness partnership between IFRC Public Health Unit and the American Red Cross. The teams identified 9 countries where we will be taking a nationwide approach for nationwide data layers. We will likely create Missing Maps tasks for areas identified as vulnerable. This project drives at the core of the Missing Maps mission of creating open data for areas where humanitarian organisations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people.

There are active mapping tasks mapping tasks focused on current humanitarian needs. This includes response for Hurricane Irma, the Mexico earthquake and Bangladesh floods. Volunteering is at the heart of all that the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement activities. Hear one volunteer’s story on mapping for the Sint Maarten Hurricane Irma response.

Mapping Nepal floods:

Missing Maps Partnership and IFRC

The Missing Maps Partnership mission and goals directly align with our goals at IFRC. This follows our path of “learn by doing” for data literacy skills. As part of the Agenda for Humanity (Grand Bargain), the Missing Maps Partnership provides a concrete example of participatory engagement (local and global) by creating and sharing open data for humanitarian preparedness and response. IFRC will facilitate the growth of Missing Maps activities in collaboration with the founding members and members.

IFRC’s contributions as a partner are:

  • National Society Engagement: Support and advocate National Society engagement for Missing Maps activities
  • Improve Data Literacy: Encourage Missing Maps projects as potential teaching mechanism for data literacy/data skills across the IFRC
  • Mapping: Host mapathons and promote Mapping (remotely and locally). Support for mapping activities (advice and tech support)
  • Encourage Youth Engagement: Volunteering is at the core of the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement’s humanitarian efforts. There is a large potential to support volunteer, especially youth, engagement in the Missing Maps project.

We excited to be collaborating with all the Missing Maps Partners and the wider OpenStreetMap community. Stay tuned for more activities. To get started, follow the Missing Maps blog, twitter and take a tutorial today. If you are with a Red Cross Red Crescent society and want to learn more, please do get in touch.

by Heather Leson