Sunday, March 13, 2011

The need for up to date maps

Once disasters impact on island countries like Haiti or Japan, existing maps no longer reflect the reality on the ground. You hear of whole towns swept away by a tsunami but there will be hope for survivors. Survivors who need care as soon as possible if they are to survive.

Getting that care in place and on time depends on many factors and one puzzle that needs solving is how to get there. After the earth quake in Haiti, satellite pictures were made available and people from all over the world helped by creating up to date maps in OpenStreetMap for the disaster relief effort.

The value of such maps is raised when local people can use the maps. The good news is that for Japanese the localisation is already quite good. It is gratifying to see people volunteer now to work on the Japanese localisation of OpenStreetMap.

When you compare this with the localisation status for Haitian Creole, you will find that the disaster maps are still not usable in the local language. This while the effects of an earth quake in Haiti have proven to be so much more destructive. Disaster can happen again, so we would love to be prepared for wherever a disaster will strike next.

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