The critical situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region completely rules out the possibility of an early return to "live" Mapathons. Nevertheless we want to try to keep the project alive. We know very well that there is no 100% substitute for direct human contact, especially when it comes to promoting integration. But at the same time we don't want to simply lose the connections that we have succeeded in constructing over almost 3 years.
Moreover, participation in a Mapathon event is not just about us: mapping is a sign of our solidarity for people around the world and is often vital in times of crisis.
Since the Spring of 2020 on-line events of all kinds (from "home office" to meetings of the UN General Assembly) have become the norm. Mapathons are no exception and here we try it, too. Together with our partners from the Geographical Institute of the University of Heidelberg - Disastermappers - on December 8th. we organized our first on-line mapathon. The Disastermapps, who already have significant experience with this kind of event, made their infrastructure available and Sarah Lohr, their coordinator, ably moderated the mapathon. (The event was carried out using software from BigBlueButton.)
To make the Mapathon as interesting as possible, we encouraged other of our partners to participate. Through our ties to France and Ghana, CartONG (France) and OSM Ghana and LECLARA (in Larabanga, Ghana) took part. Because of this international participation, the Mapathon was (exceptionally) conducted in English.
We started at 6:30 pm. Shortly thereafter, some 40 participants had joined us.
Each of the partner organizations took a few minutes to introduce itself and explain their activities in the humanitarian and development sectors. Then we presented our own association to those who might have been encountering us for the first time.
For mapping, 2 HOT-Projects in Ghana were presented:
- prepared by Mannheimer Mapathons: Hot-Project #8838 - in and around the Stadt Wa in northwest Ghana. (The satellite images are from 2020.) With 70,000+ inhabitants (2010), Wa is the capital of the Upper West Region of Ghana. The mapping task is extremely varied. As is often the case in the southernmost Sahel, much of the surface area is sparse forest or reserved for small agricultural plots. There are many small and medium-sized villages along the relatively good road network. The city has grown a lot since 1970 and is quite extensive. However, part of the city center is very densely built up and requires extremely careful work by experienced mappers.
- prepared by OSM Ghana: HOT-Project #9928- in the capital Accra. The mapping of Accra has been organized primarily in the context of the OSM project Open Cities Accra.
As mapping commenced, Disastermappers opened two "breakout rooms", one in English and one in German, where less experienced participants had the opportunity to learn more about using mapping software.
The event concluded around 9:30 p.m. Shortly before the end, Sarah presented the statistics of the mapping accomplished. (See above right).