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UW Students Use Open Source Mapping to Aid Relief Efforts in Nepal

Open Street Map Nepal

July 2, 2015

Students here at the University of Washington in Assistant Professor Jessica Kaminsky‘s Civil Engineering in Developing Countries class were recently featured in UW Today for their work in assisting with the Nepal earthquake relief effort. Using OpenStreetMap software, the students have been using satellite images to generate high quality, real-time maps for use in the relief effort.

Find­ing that one lit­tle vil­lage with no major high­ways and being able to tell some­one that that vil­lage is there is really reward­ing. Because if it’s not marked on that map, then there are a lot of cracks that it could slip through,” said civil and environmental engineering grad­u­ate stu­dent Leigh Allison.

With each UW stu­dent con­tribut­ing five hours of assigned emer­gency map­ping, the class’ efforts totaled 120 hours of mean­ing­ful dis­as­ter response work, and some students plan to continue that work. Even just a few hours makes a dif­fer­ence with thou­sands of vol­un­teers work­ing around the globe.

It’s almost like say­ing, ‘Don’t for­get us,’” said Lew. “There’s a ten­dency to want to do the major cities and the infra­struc­ture that’s clos­est to the major high­ways, but as you get fur­ther and fur­ther out, there’s still houses out there that are dis­con­nected. It’s really cool to draw a box around them and say, ‘there’s a fam­ily here, don’t for­get them.’”

For more information, contact Jessica Kaminsky at

Read the entire article here.