At some point of our childhood – or even adulthood for that matter, travelling around the world would definitely top our bucket list of things to do before we ‘kick the bucket’. But like most people, this innocent dream quickly dies down as we grow and learn the amount of money and freedom needed to actually make it come true. All that is left is the sudden reminder of it in Instagram pictures of travel bloggers and vloggers living the dream, as we scroll past the social media platform at 3 in the morning.
However, travelling around the globe might not be as far-fetched of a dream as imagined. Becoming a travel blogger is not the only way to make your wish come true. Simply become a mapping volunteer instead, and you can travel the world as you had hoped!
What is a Mapping Volunteer?
Of course! Hearing the intro to this article, many of you would be too excited and start packing your bags, ready to press the register button to become a mapping volunteer in a second! That’s what Brian “Beej” Hall did! When he first heard about a mapping campaign where volunteers are tasked to create an Internet map of every street and path in every village and city on the surface of the Earth, he was completely hooked! However, hold your horses. While travelling the world is a great part of the job, being a mapping volunteer is so much more than just personal pleasures and dreams.
Every year, disasters across the globe kill an average of 100,000 and affect 200 million people – with many of its victims living in places that are literally “missing” from any map of the world, making it difficult for first responders to make valuable decisions and provide relief efforts. With the help of mapping volunteers, these missing communities can be identified and be given a helping hand, especially in these difficult times. You will also be directly involved in responding to and building resiliency, supporting international development and participating in disaster response for major crises happening in the world.
Knowing that, being a mapping volunteer holds great purposes and responsibilities as well as dangerous risks. So, if you’re not for the greater good and just want the fun of travelling around the world, this might not be it for you. However, why not travel with a greater purpose and greater impact to the people around you when you travel?
I want to help! How do I participate?
Don’t worry if you don’t have a degree in cartography! Mapping can be done using simple online tools which do not take long to learn! Training will be provided to help you get all set up and ensure that you can be comfortable in mapping and running events in no time!
Many non-profit organizations (NGOs) that specialized in mapping volunteerism use OpenStreetMap (OSM) to identify and map missing communities. All you need is a computer and internet connection! Even if you’re not keen to travel to remote places, you can always volunteer at home and attend a mapathon with other remote workers! It’s a great way to build a strong community of mappers and even meet new people through doing something important and impactful together!
Using OSM, you will be tasked to trace satellite imagery through the app! The Community Volunteers in the area would then add local details like street names, neighborhoods, evacuation centers and many more. With the complete details of the location, humanitarian organizations would be able to plan risk reduction and disaster response activities for the area in hope to reduce casualties when disasters strike! Being a mapper, you can also join as humanitarian volunteers to help out these communities all around the world!
Being a volunteer is not the only way to help!
While OSM is the main mapper used by humanitarian NGOs, other map maker companies can also give a helping hand! Missing Maps is a collective of organizations that welcome any individuals, companies and organizations to join their initiative in mapping the world and helping the needy! So, if you want to contribute to society as an organization, join Missing Maps and make the world a safer and better place!
Besides, you can also make a donation to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team to provide financial support to the local people to place their communities on the map as well as develop tools and technology that can further help people from all around the world to contribute to this initiative!