Video: Mapping impact in The Gambia

In 2022, MapAction, at the request of longtime partner UN OCHA, provided GIS and data support and training to The Gambian National Disaster Management Agency. Watch the video below to find out why the mission mattered and what the impact was. This work is made possible with funds from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.

MapAction’s largest ever intake of new volunteers is latest commitment to building resilience

This weekend a total of sixteen new specialist data volunteers will be welcomed into MapAction’s volunteer cohort. It is the largest ever single intake by the expanding UK-based humanitarian mapping and information-troubleshooting charity. The new volunteers come from a panoply of sectors: healthcare, energy and higher education, to mention but a few. They will support […]

Meet a MapAction pioneer on International Women’s Day

She survived a volcanic eruption and helped rebuild her island afterwards. Meet Lavern Ryan, a MapAction volunteer and GIS aficionado. ‘Be the change that you want to see in the world’ is a quote often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi but on International Women’s Day 2024, MapAction volunteer Lavern Ryan says it captures her thoughts. “I […]

“We see real outcomes.” MapAction impact in Central Asia in partnership with CESDRR

MapAction has delivered 15 workshops to disaster managers in Central Asia in the last five years in partnership with the Center for Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction (CESDRR). Widespread use of GIS and humanitarian information management tools means local disaster managers are evermore prepared for present and future hazards. When a fire broke out […]

Strengthening disaster preparedness country-by-country with the INFORM Risk index

MapAction is supporting national and local disaster management authorities to reduce and address the multiple risks faced, provide better early warning systems and facilitate risk-informed development. We kickstarted our work in Eswatini.  For nearly 20 years, in 140+ emergencies, MapAction has supported countries in mitigating disasters. Since July 2023, in partnership with the European Commission’s […]

Podcast: Towards disaster resilience with CDEMA in the Caribbean

Renee Babb, GIS specialist with the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) – a longterm MapAction partner – and Lavern Ryan, a GIS specialist with the government of Montserrat and also a MapAction volunteer, talk with MapAction’s Alan Mills MBE on the GeoMob podcast about CDEMA and MapAction’s decade-long relationship. Find out why they […]

CoP 28 : Good use of data is key to mitigating the climate emergency 

MapAction urges world leaders and stakeholders gathered at COP28 to promote data-driven solutions to improve the lives of people on the front lines of climate change. (A version of this article was first published before CoP27 in Egypt in 2022. It was updated for CoP28 in November 2023. ) In recent years we have seen a […]

MapAction Data Science Lab: the story so far

Since its inception MapAction has worked on leveraging technical expertise and geospatial technologies to transform humanitarian decision-making. In 2022, the ‘Data Science Lab’ became an even more integral part of MapAction’s work, adding new staff, resources and projects.  By Daniel Soares, Head of Data Science, MapAction The first tentative steps to establish a data science […]

Ode to a geospatial humanitarian partnership and shared values

From Mexico to South Sudan, Malawi and worldwide, MapAction and CartONG have worked together for nearly a decade to bring geospatial solutions to the humanitarian aid and international development sector. Our underlying core shared values help us support NGOs and aid actors for more impactful assistance. What happens if information barriers aren’t broken down for […]

Updates: The Anticipation Hub, The 11th Global Dialogue Platform on Anticipatory Action

Welcome to the first post in a new blog series on anticipatory action. The series will explore MapAction’s work to strengthen readiness and preparedness worldwide. We’ll kick off with a few facts and definitions, as well as a review of some of the key sessions and agenda points from the The Anticipation Hub: The 11th […]

MapAction looking for volunteers to unlock information management barriers in humanitarian sector

MapAction is looking to fill six new volunteer positions with candidates who have the right skills to support work in the following fields: geospatial, development of geospatial training content, data science, data visualisation, software development and data engineering. Help MapAction and the humanitarian sector mitigate climate change and health emergencies through innovative use of software, […]

UPDATES*: MapAction disaster mappers supporting UN on response to floods in Libya

Key facts (October 03 08:50 UTC) October 3. 08:50 UTC: OCHA delivers comprehensive assessment of Libya floods, supported by MapAction The latest update from UN OCHA, MapAction’s UN partner on the Libya flood response, outlines some key data points and highlights the devastation and damage caused by Storm Daniel. 250,000: people affected 40,000: people displaced […]

MapAction continues to strengthen global disaster preparedness in summer of 2023

With El Nino set to bring a particularly challenging period for humanitarians, MapAction members have been busy all summer working on disaster preparedness around the world.  If you missed our recent announcement, we are delighted to be able to introduce Colin Rogers, MapAction’s new CEO. Read more about Colin here and his decades of experience […]

MapAction urges wider adoption of GIS for disaster resilience at UN Expert Meeting

MapAction’s Head of Programme Development spoke at the UNGGIM this week, promoting the efficiencies that can be gained by effective use of geospatial services to meet the priorities of the  Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in understanding risk and vulnerability, governance, financing and especially in early warning and preparedness to respond in emergencies. The UNGGIM is the […]

“Adds value to humanitarian response”

Volunteer Ant Scott talks to the GeoMob podcast about volunteering at MapAction. Ant Scott (centre) at MapAction’s emergency response simulation event on the Isle of Cumbrae in May 2023. Photo: MapAction. Below is an edited excerpt of a podcast produced by GeoMob and featuring long-time MapAction volunteer Ant Scott talking about MapAction’s work. Listen to […]

Why we must address the gender gap in humanitarian data

Without a consistent approach to sex-and-age-disaggregated-data (SADD) in local, national and international data collection, the specific needs of women and girls – as well as men and boys – will continue to be misunderstood or overlooked by international development agents and disaster relief operators. The same is true for understanding the needs of the LGBT […]

MapAction’s mapping of floods in Peru produced “quality visualisations of the issues”

In early April 2023, a MapAction team led by Luis F. P. Velasquez deployed to Lima, the capital of Peru, to help map the response to deadly floods at the request of the local office of the United Nations Disaster Assessment Coordination (UNDAC), a longtime MapAction partner. The government of Peru had declared a state […]

Urgent appeal : Humanitarian Response Fund

Thank you for opening MapAction’s Humanitarian Response Appeal. We need your urgent help as we seek to fund our continuing responses to humanitarian crises in 2023 and beyond.  If you fund MapAction you won’t be buying blankets, water, shelter or food. You will be making sure that as those items arrive they get to where […]

MapAction conducts simulated volcanic eruption response exercise on Isle of Cumbrae

Every year, MapAction brings together its staff, its cohort of volunteers, partners and other stakeholders to hold a three-day exercise to simulate an emergency response to a given disaster. The objective is to strengthen the whole organisation’s disaster preparedness; to ensure MapAction is as ready as it can be for the next emergency response. This […]

UPDATES: MapAction humanitarian mappers supporting UN response to heavy floods in Peru

Key facts (April 26, 2023): April 26. 09:30 UTC. MapAction’s mappers have set up temporary office in Lima, Peru, in the last week and maps are already reaching UNDAC and partners. Cue a new MapAction Wall. April 14. 12:00 UTC. Experienced humanitarian mappers from MapAction have travelled to Peru to support the United Nations and […]

A volunteer-driven disaster relief model: a glimpse into a MapAction training weekend

MapAction is a hub of 80 data, geospatial and geography professionals who volunteer as humanitarian mappers for disaster relief. Our new Head of Communications Alex Macbeth shares his views below of a recent training weekend, providing an insight into how and why volunteers at MapAction do what they do. The GPS points towards a small […]

How maps can save lives when disasters strike

Prompt mobilisation of MapAction volunteers is helping the earthquake response in Türkiye and Syria. But as natural disasters intensify, the charity is appealing for funds to meet growing demand Read more in the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Land Journal.

MapAction signs WHO partnership agreement underlining growing support for health emergencies

MapAction has signed the Standby Partnership Agreement with the World Health Organisation (WHO) which will allow the UK-based emergency response and disaster preparedness charity to have greater impact in health emergencies.  The agreement will see MapAction volunteers ready on standby to deploy to any health emergency operations at the request of the WHO. This will […]

UPDATES*: MapAction team in Turkiye working on disaster landscape maps and supporting earthquake response at UNDAC’s request

Key facts (March 15, 10:00 UTC): March 15: 10:00 UTC. More than 9 million people have been affected by the earthquakes in Turkiye, according to the latest data and situation report from UN OCHA. Nearly 3 million people have been displaced: 3.5 million people have been provided with shelter or accommodation; 354 new formal tent […]

MapAction to provide support to earthquake emergency response operations in Turkiye and Syria

At least 5000 people have been confirmed dead (updated: Feb 7, 09:30 GMT) after a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and subsequent aftershocks, struck southeast Turkiye (formerly known as Turkey) and northwest Syria on Monday February 6th. That seismic event was swiftly followed by a second 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the same region and dozens of […]

MapAction reinforces pivot towards early warning work after 20 years of focus on disaster response

By MapAction CEO Liz Hughes MapAction’s 2022 Annual General Meeting celebrated 20 years of humanitarian service. The event in early December also served as a platform to announce the organisation’s increasing pivot towards early warning work – to consolidate global resilience to the climate emergency, health epidemics and conflict. 20 years ago a small group […]

MapAction’s partnership with Asian disaster reduction & response network ADRRN is part of ‘global localisation’ strategy

MapAction continues to help create resilience for geospatial and data science practitioners in the Asia-Pacific region working on emergency response and anticipatory action. It is part of MapAction’s ‘global strategy of localisation’, a commitment to empower regional disaster relief bodies and civil society stakeholders to be more resilient and sustainable. The East Asia and Pacific […]

MapAction helps combat malaria in Burundi with data

MapAction’s work has always applied its geospatial and data expertise in order to provide information on humanitarian needs. Now, due to the changing world around us, we are expanding our focus on issues such as health and in other areas. Our activities will increasingly aim to use data and geospatial information to combat major health […]

Improving disaster response through training in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

One of MapAction’s aims is to help disaster management agencies around the world to use vital geospatial and data analysis tools in their work. By doing so we can deepen how effective and impactful the sector can be, both when emergencies strike or in advance by enabling regional communities and organisations to reduce their risks.  […]

One volunteer’s experience of her first preparedness training mission

A significant part of what MapAction does as an organisation is making sure other agencies around the world are ready to respond when crises arise and can use vital GIS tools in their work.  One of our volunteers, Yolanda Vazquez, talks about her experience of training with the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team […]

What do team members learn from a MapAction disaster simulation?

MapAction team members get ready for deployment through our annual disaster simulation exercise In June MapAction volunteers from all over the world headed to Gloucestershire for their biggest deployment team training event in the calendar. These simulations are a chance to practise many of our standard operating procedures, and an opportunity to build team cohesion.   […]

Anne Kemp’s long walk back to normality

Anne Kemp is a previous trustee of MapAction. She has taken on walking the length of the South West Coastal Path and is raising funds for MapAction. Here she writes about why she is doing it and how you can sponsor her. In March 2020, I started walking the Pennine Way (270 miles), motivated by […]

Welcoming the new Head of GeoSpatial services

As well as many other things, MapAction provides UN and other international and regional agencies with the information and data they need, in the most useful visual formats, to enable them to be as effective as possible. We are actively working to apply fast developing geospatial expertise to tackle some of today’s biggest humanitarian challenges, […]

Receiving an MBE for my ‘Services to International Development’

A year ago this month, I was informed I had been put forward to receive an MBE in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list for ‘Services to International Development’, for my work with MapAction. Trying to keep the secret quiet over the Christmas holiday, even under lockdown, was a challenge but the outburst of congratulations […]

How maps helped the response to the Haiti earthquake

MapAction has been involved in the response to the earthquake that took place in Haiti on 14 August, helping our partners with data processing, analysis and mapping. This has helped those coordinating operational teams to understand what types of aid are needed in different locations and what other organisations are already doing to help. At […]

My London Marathon venture

By Ian Davis, MapAction’s Fundraising & Marketing Director I’m 56, unfit and with the build of the wrong kind of Chippendale (short-legged wooden furniture, not under dressed male dancer). So why on earth am I running the London Marathon? Because I’m raising money for MapAction, an organisation that enables mapping, GIS and data experts to […]

Using data engineering to save lives

By Egor ZverevEgor is working with us temporarily through Google’s Summer of Code programme. How could I apply my programming and data science skills to make the world a better and safer place? I’ve been struggling to figure that out for quite some time, and finally after three years of studying computer science at MIPT […]

Responding to the Volcanic Eruption in St Vincent and the Grenadines

By Lavern Ryan, MapAction volunteer. “Alert Check: Volcanic Eruption St Vincent and the Grenadines, please sign up your availability.” Those were the words which greeted me as I checked my MapAction email. Simple words, but so profound for me. They really hit hard, and hit home! I could not ignore that call for action. I […]

Moonshot part 2: the slow data scramble

By Juan Duarte, MapAction Technical Director When MapAction triggers an emergency response, the first step is for a team of staff and volunteers to begin what is known as a “data scramble”. This is the process of gathering, organising, checking, and preparing the data required to make the first core maps that emergency response teams […]

A year of collaboration with the Centre for Humanitarian Data

By Hannah Ker, Data Scientist at MapAction In March 2020, MapAction and the UN OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Centre for Humanitarian Data embarked on a new level of collaboration by sharing a Data Scientist’s time between the two organisations. Both teams had a lot to offer and learn from each other, […]

Mapping people who are moving

December 18 marks The United Nations (UN) International Migrants Day, recognising the efforts, contributions, and rights of migrants worldwide.  In light of this, we decided to share some of the work we did this year during the Syria crisis to highlight some of the challenges of meeting the needs of migrant populations, and also explore […]

Guatemala – video report from the airport

In this video, MapAction volunteer Emerson Tan gives a report from the airport on his way home from Guatemala. MapAction was mobilised to help the international response to the catastrophic impacts of Hurricanes Eta and Iota which have caused tremendous suffering across Central America, on top of the COVID pandemic.

Hurricanes Eta & Iota – how maps are helping

by Jon Hanson, Head of Grants Income at MapAtion This StoryMap explains how some of the over 100 maps MapAction created following Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Central America in November 2020 are being used to help get aid to people that need it. Click here to view it in full screen.

What does ‘Data’ mean to MapAction?

What is MapAction’s ‘humanitarian data landscape?’ At MapAction, we’re working to put data at the centre of how we provide products and services to the humanitarian sector. MapAction’s data scientist, Monica Turner, recently posted  about the work she does in this new role. However, data is a big (and sometimes loaded) term. So what does […]

Not the normal London Marathon, but certainly not a dry run

MapAction patron Vanessa Lawrence CB and her running partner and god-daughter Jocelyn Moore (whose partner Steve is a MapAction volunteer and also a London Marathon veteran) ran the London Marathon for us together for the second year running on a very wet day in October. Here’s Vanessa’s account of the experience. The 2020 London Marathon […]

Ten tips for making simple, informative maps in a pandemic

MapAction has been collaborating for a number of years with French NGO and fellow humanitarian information management specialists CartONG. In addition to our operational activities, we thought it would be worthwhile to pool our collective knowledge to create an informative article. The ten-minute read aims to give some helpful tips for people creating maps intended […]

How data science can help release emergency funds before a crisis

Although data science is still a relatively new field, its potential for the humanitarian sector is vast and ever-changing. We caught up with one of MapAction’s Data Scientists Monica Turner to discover how data science is evolving, the impact of COVID-19 on her work and how predictive modelling could see disaster funding being released before […]

MapAction’s Moonshot – origins and ambitions

By Juan Duarte, Technical Director, and Monica Turner, Data Scientist, MapAction History will always underscore how landing on the moon represented a significant milestone in the space race, yet what is often less spoken about is the number of technologies that might not have ever made it without space travel. These include the all-important ability […]

Colour in mapping

By Jo Pratt, MapAction’s Communications Lead March 9-10 is Holi, an ancient Hindu festival celebrating the arrival of spring with a riot of colour. To mark the occasion I asked the MapAction members for their interesting tips, facts, examples and experiences – anything they felt moved to share – about the use and importance of […]

Greening MapAction

By Liz Hughes, Chief Executive, MapAction The nature of our work means that we are only too aware of the impacts of climate change on the lives and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people. Although the causal chain between humanitarian need arising out of climate change and MapAction’s contribution to the problem may not […]

Diversity and MapAction

Video interview Earlier this year, MapAction’s CEO Liz Hughes blogged about diversity in the humanitarian and technology/GIS sectors and why it’s important. Since then, we’ve been working to evolve our practices in this area. MapAction volunteer Bel Hewitt has been involved in shaping our diversity and inclusion policy and helping us to work towards our […]

MapAction on the Mapscaping podcast

Podcast One of MapAction’s longest-serving volunteers, Kathrin Renner, recently spoke to Daniel O’Donohue, presenter of the Mapscaping podcast series, about how MapAction provides geospatial support for humanitarian emergencies. They chatted about how MapAction supports first responders and disaster management teams to make the best possible decisions and what it’s like to be a MapAction volunteer. […]

Reflecting on World Humanitarian Day

By Liz Hughes, MapAction CEO
Today is World Humanitarian Day and the theme this year is Women Humanitarians. I find that an interesting theme. World Humanitarian Day is often interpreted as being about the workers, not the affected communities. Yet, it seems to me that humanitarianism is in fact about people’s suffering and what helps.

Becoming a MapAction Volunteer

by Lavern Rogers-Ryan, MapAction Caribbean Section volunteer
When the call came for Caribbean volunteers to apply to MapAction, I was keen to sign up. Having followed the work of this organisation and the amazing group of people who work as volunteers, I saw this as an awesome opportunity for me to contribute to the work of saving lives.

Mapping mountains

By Jorge Andres, MapAction volunteer
A few years ago, on a MapAction team training course, participants were asked to present a map that provided particular insight, analysis, or novelty – going beyond simple descriptive mapping. I chose this map I created of the 2014-5 volcanic eruption on Fogo Island.

Using imagery to best effect in disaster relief

By Alan Mills, MapAction volunteer
Can satellite imagery and UAV data become useful data sources for humanitarian decision making in disaster relief coordination?
Satellite Imagery and data collected by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are increasingly promoted as valuable new information sources to aid humanitarian emergency decision making, but how much have things really changed? MapAction is at the forefront of information management delivery on the ground in humanitarian relief, and the choice of which data we use depends on what is best for how to get aid to affected people. Our primary aim is to inform decision making by mapping for people in a crisis, ensuring the best data is timely in delivery to help those affected. Do satellite imagery or data from unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs make a difference in the field yet? We consider the evidence from our perspective.