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Nepal, Open Street Maps and Contributing

The 7.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal over the weekend has been rightly covered by many news agencies, and there are appeals for donations and support on Campbell Live, Facebook and a wide variety of other channels.

I spent this evening catching up with Tim Mcnamara, who was one of the key individuals behind the crowd created eq.org.nz response during the Christchurch earthquake. Tim's continued to be involved in humanitarian support and the way in which digital tools can be used to make a real difference to people on the ground in disaster situations.

So if you're interested in more than just donating cash to the relief efforts in Nepal, and have some time to donate in front of a web browser, here are some options for you.

  1. Micromappers - This site hosts an "Image Crisis Map" and a "Tweet Crisis Map", which are being used to show relevant disaster damage and tweets. The tools on the site allow you to quickly analyse tweets and images for evidence of damage and needs, and your judgement calls are collated and then mapped to assist in relief efforts.

  2. Humanitarian Open Street Map - You can read all about this project here, but basically, using the Task Manager, and tools like JOSM, you're able to identify and mark out points of interest, resources, buildings, and infrastructure. This data is then uploaded and used by teams and organisations on the ground in Nepal.

This guide from @meetar, is a fantastic overview and walkthrough of how to get started using the Humanitarian Open Street Map tasks.

  1. Digital Humanitarians FB page - Tim has started this Facebook group to "Help field agencies respond to disasters with a few clicks. Volunteers here create maps, assess building damage and track social media." He's also using it to co-ordinate more G+ hangouts to share his knowledge and help anyone interested.

Each of these ways of contributing require differing amounts of input, and some of it is quite laborious and a bit dull. But from experience during the Christchurch quakes, there's something very human about being able to do small things that support those on the ground, and something important in the choosing to do so.

Donations to the relief effort can be also be given through the following organisations:

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