Mapathon at CEU Helps Typhoon Hagibis Victims in Japan

The CEU community took part in the International Disaster Risk Reduction Day last week. The program included a presentation, a panel discussion and a mapathon - a crowdsourcing mapping event - which focused on the areas affected by typhoon Hagibis in Japan. 

The event was organized by the Environmental Systems Laboratory (Syslab) and the Missing Maps Mapathon was part of an international project focusing on supporting the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT).

A mapathon is an opportunity for volunteers to digitally connect and map vulnerable places so that local and international NGOs can use these maps and data to better respond to crises. With the increasing threat of natural disasters, up-to-date maps are important for the success of many humanitarian organizations around the world in responding to disasters. Through Missing Maps, using the OpenStreetMap (OSM) platform, anyone can volunteer to help create these maps. 

The CEU maphaton did not require any previous mapping knowledge: at the beginning basic instructions were given about using OpenStreetMap so that participants could start mapping right away. 

During the event areas affected by typhoon Hagibis were mapped to help local rescue services. The event was important because of the rising death toll and people left without power or water in Japan.

At the beginning of the day renowned experts in the field took part in a discussion. Participants were joined by Daniela Mangione, Resilience Regional Focal Point and Programme Officer of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and humanitarian affairs consultant Martin Fisher. Ivana Vuco, a representative of USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance was also present, as well as Laszlo Pinter, head of the CEU’s Department of Environmental Sciences & Policy and Anastasia Kvasha, PhD candidate at CEU.

The presentation by Ms. Mangione on “Disaster Risk Reduction in Agriculture and Resilience of Rural Livelihoods” was followed by a panel discussion on how international policies and geographic information systems can help manage disasters. The discussion was facilitated by Syslab head Viktor Lagutov. The speakers of the DRR Day at CEU focused on international organizations’ efforts and challenges in assisting in natural disasters. 

International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) was first held in 1989, after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction.