Digital mapping to help find tsumani survivors

Digital mapping charity MapAction, has been helping aid workers in Sri Lanka after the tsunami disaster, by supplying maps to...

Digital mapping charity MapAction has been helping aid workers in Sri Lanka after the tsunami disaster, by supplying maps to help locate survivors and damage.

The UK-based charity specialises in mapping and supplying geographical information for humanitarian relief operations.

Using geographic information systems (GIS) software from supplier UK ESRI, the charity is providing maps that are updated hourly to non-government agencies on the ground to help them best plan their disaster response operations.

The charity flew to Sri Lanka immediately after the disaster and has now trained local people to use the mapping software which it has donated so that the survivors can continue to benefit once MapAction has left the country.

Using a GPS satellite the software receives pictures of the affected areas which it then creates into a map. These are used to identify where survivors might be located, identifying where relief aid needs to be targeted and how best to logistically reach the affected areas and how the landscape has altered to help resolve any land ownership issues.

The maps are accessed via the internet or printed off and handed to survivors, governments and aid agencies to help them find the best routes to deliver supplies or rescue people.

Chairman of MapAction Andrew Douglas-Bate said, "When we arrived on the first day we had a request for three or four maps but soon we were being asked for 40 or 60 maps a day."

To make a donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee call 0870 60 60 900

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