Missing Maps: crowdsourcing digital map creation

Each year natural disasters and disease epidemics kill tens of thousands and displace millions of people. Many of the places where these disasters occur are 'missing' from any map. First responders lack information to make decisions for relief efforts. Missing Maps is an open, collaborative project to put communities on the map. We crowdsource volunteers to map missing areas to provide humanitarian organisations and governments with the information needed to address these problems.

At a Glance

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About This Innovation

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Provide a status update for your Innovation.

Missing Maps is in a period of expansion, and needs support to do so. We have successfully grown from four founding members to fifteen NGO and research partners, and have attracted over 24,000 volunteers worldwide to contribute to the project. To scale further, we require funding to grow our team and develop new partnerships.

How does your innovation work?

Maps are created through two innovations:

  • Web-tool: using the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Tasking Manager, users can trace digital maps by drawing roads and buildings over satellite imagery. It takes about 5-10 minutes to get started.
  • App: using the MapSwipe app, users can identify buildings and roads in remote places around the world.
  • Validation tools: maps are validated on the ground by local volunteers, who add meta-data of place such as street names, and identifying hospitals.

What Evidence do you have that your Innovation works?

All NGOs which have used Missing Maps services to provide maps have commented and blogged that it improves their capabilities to respond to issues in the field. Some examples are:

MSF have also commissioned a report proving the impact of Missing Maps on field projects, for logistics and epidemiology support.

Do you have current users or testers?

We currently have over 20 NGO partners who use our mapping tools to improve their efficiency working in the field. We have 24,000+ volunteers who volunteer their time to create the maps.

What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?

We want to scale through:

  • Partnerships with NGOs and organisations who would benefit from map creation in places where they work
  • Partnerships with corporates, who are able to provide ready access to large numbers of volunteers and funding
  • Partnership with effective altruism organisations - as we crowdsource map creation, we provide huge value at incredibly low cost
  • Community development - researching and implementing ways to engage and grow our userbase of 24,000+ volunteers

Next Steps

We are actively seeking partnerships to help us expand.