Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

LLILAS Benson Organizes Mapathons for Disaster Relief

Wed, October 11, 2017
LLILAS Benson Organizes Mapathons for Disaster Relief

By Hannah Alpert-Abrams

In the wake of natural disasters in Mexico and the Caribbean, relief organizations have requested help locating vulnerable sites, and people around the world are using the OpenStreetMap platform to answer the call. In Austin, LLILAS Benson and the University of Texas Libraries have joined libraries in New York, Florida, Indiana, California, and more, organizing “mapathons” that provide a collective opportunity to make a difference. Hannah Alpert-Abrams and Albert A. Palacios of LLILAS Benson, and Katherine Strickland of the Libraries, have made this effort possible on the Texas campus. 

The devastating storms in the Caribbean and the earthquakes in Mexico have caused widespread damage to people, infrastructure, and the environment, often in places for which geographical data is scarce. Over 4,800 volunteers have used OpenStreetMap to help provide missing information about these places, helping aid organizations to conduct rapid damage assessments and evaluate the needs of communities across Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Dominica. On Friday, October 6, students, faculty, and library staff gathered at UT Austin's Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL) to learn about the OpenStreetMaps tool and to help identify buildings in the municipalities of Ponce and Jayuya, Puerto Rico. A second mapathon will be held on Friday, October 13. All are welcome to attend.

If You Go

The second Disaster Relief Mapathon at The University of Texas at Austin will be held from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Friday, October 13, at Learning Lab 4 in PCL. No experience or laptop is necessary, and participants can arrive late and leave early. Even 30 minutes helps!

For more information, contact Hannah Alpert-Abrams, postdoctoral fellow in digital curation.

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  • Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

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