Esri Ireland, the market leader in geographic information services (GIS), today announces that it has partnered with Concern Worldwide to map the Cité Soleil district of Haiti’s capital city, Port au Prince. The work is being carried out as part of the Missing Maps project, a humanitarian effort to pre-emptively map parts of the world that are vulnerable to natural disasters, conflicts and disease epidemics.

Missing Maps encourages members of the public to map areas where humanitarian organisations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people. Esri Ireland’s team has helped Concern to attract volunteers and run a series of mapathon events to add details to the open source maps of the area of Haiti where many of those most in need of Concern’s services live and work.

Cité Soleil is an extremely impoverished commune within Port au Prince, and home to approximately 265,000 people. Despite its size, large swathes of the commune remained unmapped until the commencement of this project. So far, 120 volunteers have mapped 11 sq. kilometres of the densely-populated district, adding more than 5,000 buildings and 93km of roads to the map in the process.

Concern Worldwide is an international humanitarian organisation that is dedicated to tackling poverty and suffering in the world’s poorest countries. Concern has been working with communities in Haiti for the past 20 years to make sustainable improvements in poverty levels and strengthen resilience to disasters. Mapping Cité Soleil is a key development in its work in the region that will enable better distribution of essential services to those who need them most.

The project starts with volunteers who utilise satellite and drone imagery to populate the maps with data using publicly available OpenStreetMap software and a Task Manager tool. Once it is verified, this data can be imported into Esri’s ArcGIS system where it can be used to more effectively plan and implement community projects such as flood resilience preparations

Ellen Ward, IT solutions coordinator, Concern Worldwide said: “Missing Maps aims to build digital maps for the entire globe, with a focus on vulnerable and ‘missed’ communities. Concern works in some of the most disaster affected areas, including Haiti where multiple extreme events have happened since we began working there in 1994. Building resilience to floods and hurricanes is a key part of our work and these maps help us to plan and prepare with community members as well as providing visibility of our areas of focus. We have received very positive feedback from staff and partners in Haiti who are now continuing our work by adding more local knowledge to the maps.

“Esri Ireland’s input on this project has been vital and they have helped to plan and run all the events in Dublin. We are all really passionate about the work being done and how it will be of benefit to the citizens of Cité Soleil. As well as helping to attract and train volunteers, Esri Ireland’s team have also been on-hand to answer questions about the GIS element of the project.”

Paul Synnott, director and country manager, Esri Ireland, said: “The maps of Cité Soleil that have been created so far will be really valuable to Concern‘s ongoing work in the region, as well as the work of other aid agencies. These maps will be used for the next five years and provide information critical to the development of infrastructure and amenities in Cité Soleil that will improve the livelihoods of the people living there.”

The areas that have been mapped to date can be viewed at http://arcg.is/2Bl4Ylw

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