Don’t have time to volunteer at your local relief center? Can’t commit to emergency deployment for days, weeks, or months? Do you have access to the internet? Do you have an eye for detail, and the patience of a mantis? If your answer is mostly yes, maybe being a digital humanitarian is just right for you.
A new type of humanitarian is needed in the fast paced world of information technology and global disaster management. The Digital Humanitarian is this new breed of humanitarian actor that provides important all volunteer services to field based agents in areas of digital mapping, and remote sensing technology.
Maps are essential in a rapid deployment humanitarian environment. Identifying passable road networks, or locating damaged infrastructure are just a few of the important outcomes that digital maps provide humanitarian relief agents and disaster managers need.
Through Open Street Map, the opensource and community led mapping platform, people with access to the internet and basic knowledge of digital tracing can be valuable contributors in creating map data from free satellite imagery or from other aerial imagery sources. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team or HOT as it is known by relief and disaster risk reduction agencies; is led by volunteer contributors known as “Activators”. These activators specialize in a variety of fields and could be your neighbors that are capable of mapping kilometers of road networks and building outlines in another country.
Volunteering in the 21st century has become digital. People can go to http://learnosm.org/en/ to find out more about how to contribute to Open Street Map and eventually volunteer for HOT. In addition to learning about OSM, HOT volunteers should also learn about HOT-OSM activation protocols at http://courses.hotosm.org/ . Learners can earn trainee badges from accomplishing different areas of HOT activation.
If you already have experience in contributing to OSM, head on to http://tasks.hotosm.org/
In lieu of the recent Earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan, there are several “Projects” that you can sign up for to trace buildings, road networks, and other important features assigned by the Project’s lead. Locally, there are many projects led by the Philippine Red Cross and ICRC to map areas in the Philippines for disaster risk reduction management planning. Also, if you want to assist the government in its effort to create more accurate hazard impact assessments, start mapping in this project.