by Byron Connolly

Brisbane firm maps Nepalese communities to help aid effort

Apr 30, 20152 mins
Big Data

A Brisbane software development firm is assisting rescue teams and aid agencies working in earthquake-stricken Nepal by meticulously mapping remote communities.

The firm, NetEngine, is working on a crowdsourcing project to create reliable maps for the most vulnerable areas affected by the recent earthquake. And it’s putting out the call for other developers to join the cause.

“With aftershocks still rocking the region, it’s critical to get the maps up to date so the international aid organisations can get help where it’s most needed,” said NetEngine managing director, Bruce Stronge.

“Our team is leveraging mobile and web-based applications, participatory maps, aerial and satellite imagery, geospatial platforms and advanced visualisations to provide up to date mapping during this humanitarian crisis. We are calling on anyone who’d like to help to log on and start mapping,” he said.

The Nepal mapping project is an extension of the company’s involvement in the Random Hacks of Kindness movement, a global community of developers who are ‘hacking for good.’

NetEngine hosts events in Brisbane that bring together technologists to help solve social problems.

“Mapping projects like these are necessary because vast areas of the planet’s land masses aren’t mapped, mainly because the majority of mapping applications are powered by commercial sponsorships and advertising,” said Stronge.

“These sponsorship don’t exist in most areas of the developing world, leaving roads connecting remote communities off the map when a crisis hits,” he said.

NetEngine previously provided crisis mapping for remote communities affected by the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and for the Philippines after an urgent request from the Red Cross during Typhoon Hagupit last year.

Stronge believed that work completed by Brisbane hackers contributed to the fact that less than 50 lives were lost in the Typhoon.

“Without crowd-sourced crisis mapping, the death toll would have been higher. It’s an incredible opportunity to provide vital assistance to the most vulnerable places in the world, savings lives in real time,” Stronge said.

NetEngine is encouraging people to go to its website to register their interest in helping the mapping operation in Nepal.

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Follow Byron Connolly on Twitter:@ByronConnolly