University of Wisconsion - Eau Claire




Digital Humanitarianism: Planning and Mitigating Crises with OpenStreetMap (15 hrs)

15 hours

Community partner: UWEC Geography & Anthropology
Supervisor: Ezra J. Zeitler
Beginning date:
Ending Date:

Service-Learning Proposal Description


Briefly describe the project and the community need to be addressed.

Answer When major disaster strikes anywhere in the world, thousands of Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) volunteers come together online and on the ground to create open map data that enables disaster responders to reach those in need. Join the ranks of HOT volunteers by participating in this service learning project! Service learning volunteers will contribute to the HOT’s Missing Maps project. This project creates maps of high vulnerability areas where data is scarce, putting an area home to millions of people onto the world map in OpenStreetMap.


What is the mission of the agency or organization?

Answer The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) is dedicated to humanitarian action and community development through open mapping. Contributors work together to provide map data which revolutionizes disaster management, reduces risks, and contributes to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. HOT's work is global in scale and contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The organization’s monitoring and evaluation framework is constantly evolving to ensure tangible and measurable impact. Core impact areas include disasters & climate resilience, displacement & safe migration, sustainable cities & communities, gender equality, and public health.


What skills are required for this project? 

Answer Familiarity with identifying natural and cultural landscape features (i.e., roads, buildings, rivers) from satellite imagery is ideal. However, student volunteers can quickly acquire this skill during group mapping efforts hosted regularly by the Geography and Anthropology Club.


What are the objectives for the student learning and service?

Answer The service-learning volunteer will enhance their knowledge of geospatial technology and the ability to demonstrate this knowledge through contributing to Humanitarian Open Street Map projects. The volunteer will explore a personal sense of responsibility to the global community through this service experience.


What are the availability requirements for the student?

Answer The service-learning volunteer will attend at least one two-hour map-a-thon (hosted by the Geography and Anthropology Club) and will work independently (1-2 hours/week) for the remaining amount of time. should be available for 2-3 hours per week each week of the semester. The use of a computer with an internet connection is required for the completion of this service project.


Additional information (not required).

Answer All students are welcome to join this service learning project. Student volunteers will identify Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) projects in need of volunteers and contribute to their humanitarian, relief or development efforts by mapping areas in need. By participating in this project, student volunteers will learn to identify natural and cultural features from aerial imagery, develop an awareness of the frequency and impact of environmental disasters and humanitarian crises in our world, and make real and direct contributions to relief efforts. Student volunteers are expected attend the first Geography and Anthropology Club map-a-thon of the semester for orientation and training, maintain a project journal that includes the names and locations of their HOT contributions, and communicate with the project coordinator about their progress on a weekly basis. To complete this service learning project, student volunteers must submit a paper that includes the names and locations of HOT contributions, the environmental or cultural origins of the crises they contributed relief efforts towards, and a personal reflection of their efforts during the project.