UCF GIS Students Map the Globe

Pictured (left to right): John Muller, Kenisha Johnson , Rhena South, Nicholas Altizer

Pictured (left to right): John Muller, Kenisha Johnson , Rhena South, Nicholas Altizer

University of Central Florida is one of 27 universities taking part in an interactive and editable global mapping program, YouthMappers, that is used to address development challenges around the world.

Founded by Texas Tech University, YouthMappers was created to address development challenges for some of the world’s most impoverished countries. This is done by the creation of new, quality, and localized geospatial data in unmapped places of the world using the platform OpenStreetMap. YouthMappers works to fill a need for volunteer humanitarians and crisis mapping, and expands action to address longer term and chronic development by leveraging academic community involvement.

By using OpenStreetMap, a free, editable public map that is open and accessible to the public, more than 1 million changes have been made by university students worldwide. The open spatial data created will be used in meaningful research and analysis, allowing students to gain new skills and use this data in their own research. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also works to end extreme poverty in the locations targeted as places of need on the map. USAID supports YouthMappers through a grant from the U.S. Global Development Lab’s GeoCenter.

UCF plays an active role within this initiative through its Geospatial Information Society. The Geospatial Information Society is responsible for aiding national and international partners in the initial stages of relief and humanitarian efforts as well as facilitating a cross-cultural interdisciplinary educational environment that emphasizes the learning and usage of collaborative and community-based approaches in addressing real world problems.

“By participating in this massive, global effort, UCF students and faculty are learning the power of collaborative mapping technologies for addressing social and environmental inequalities,” said assistant professor and faculty advisor of the GIS club, Timothy Hawthorne, Ph.D. “They’re also becoming part of a worldwide network over the geoweb designed to harness crowdsourced and citizen science-based solutions to our world’s greatest challenges.”

On April 1, 2016, students of the GIS club had the opportunity of assisting the United States Peace Corps, Center for Disease Control, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with their relief efforts in malaria prevention in the Zambezia province of Mozambique. These efforts were part of the President’s Malaria Initiative Strategy which addresses local challenges in malaria prevention.

“Using OSM technology, we remotely mapped building types, road types and waterways which allows the Peace Corps and their Mozambican partners to validate and add local knowledge,” said sociology master’s student and Co-Founder of the Geospatial Information Society, Rhena South. “In turn, the Peace Corps will be using this data to develop their strategy for mosquito spraying which will reduce the spread of malaria and save lives.”

Learn more about the UCF GIS Initiative and UCF’s Geospatial Information Society on Facebook here.

Comments are closed.