UW students use open source mapping to aid relief efforts in Nepal

Half a world away, University of Washington civil and envi­ron­men­tal engi­neer­ing stu­dents trace the out­lines of roads, paths and build­ings in Nepal from their lap­tops.

Using open data soft­ware Open­StreetMap, the students in assistant professor Jes­sica Kamin­sky’s Civil Engi­neer­ing in Devel­op­ing Com­mu­ni­ties class joined an online com­mu­nity effort to turn satel­lite imagery of Nepalinto maps and aid the earth­quake relief effort. These dig­i­tized maps provide emer­gency respon­ders and relief coordinators responding to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and powerful aftershocks in Nepal with crit­i­cal data to guide teams deployed on the ground.

Find­ing that one lit­tle vil­lage with no major high­ways and being able to tell some­one that that vil­lage is there is really reward­ing. Because if it’s not marked on that map, then there are a lot of cracks that it could slip through,” said civil and environmental engineering grad­u­ate stu­dent Leigh Allison.

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