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Volunteers virtually map out missing communities

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    A snapshot of the mapathon session held in the morning of Aug. 19 online.

LIHU‘E — On Aug. 19, World Humanitarian Day, the American Red Cross (ARC) kicked off its first Great Hawai‘i Mapathon, an effort of the American Red Cross’ Missing Map project.

ARC’s Regional Communications Manager Matthew Wells said the project wants to digitally map communities that are missing from the maps that are used to distribute disaster aid relief.

“Whenever we pull out our phones and plug in a location, chances are that detailed directions pop-up quickly to guide us where we want to be,” said Wells. “Unfortunately, many communities do not have those maps available to them, and that’s where volunteer efforts with Missing Maps come into play.”

According to Wells, these events would normally occur as get-togethers where mappers meet in person. However, due to social-distancing measures and COVID-19, events are now being held virtually.

“This provides a unique opportunity for volunteers to help communities around the world while remaining safely and comfortably at their home computer,” said Wells.

Wells said at yesterday’s Mapathon event, volunteers across the state and on Kaua‘i helped map a community in Indonesia.

“When relief workers respond to the needs of these communities, they can rely on the maps created by volunteers using Open Street Map imaging.”

For more info on ARC, visit redcross.org/hawaii. And for more information on the Missing Map project, visit missingmaps.org.

“Missing Maps efforts, particularly Mapathons, are a great way for people of all ages to volunteer,” said Wells.

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