New mobile mapping app helps find vulnerable people faster

The mobile mapping app helps humanitarian workers to find people in remote areas and is being rolled out by Doctors without Borders (MSF – Médecins Sans Frontières).


MSF announced at the MSF’s Scientific Days meeting last week in London that the app launched last year has already helped in locating people during urgent missions. Being able to find people faster in situations such as earthquake or disease outbreak is crucial and can make a difference between life and death.

According to SciDev.Net, the mobile mapping app, MapSwipe, “draws on the open-source platform OpenStreetMap and is part of the Missing Maps project designed by MSF.”

The app is based on citizens compiling detailed maps of areas where existing information is basic and helps in putting vulnerable people on the map. Supplying satellite imagery to volunteers, the app team then aggregates this input and produces new maps reflecting the features on the ground more accurately.

Benjamin Herfort, from Heidelberg University in Germany and member of the team, told SciDev.Net that “results from South Sudan and Madagascar show that about 90 per cent of the crowdsourced data agree with each other — an indication that citizen feedback is reliable.”

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