Humanitarian OpenStreetMap

Photo by Ivan Gayton/MSF.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff member Ivan Gayton and volunteers from the University of Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, use a basemap to trace information such as road names, arrondissement designations and types of road or path in order to fight disease outbreaks in DRC as part of the Missing Maps project. This is an unprecedented collaboration between MSF, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), the British Red Cross and the American Red Cross The project draws on a massive force of volunteers to create accurate, up-to-date, permanently open source maps of locations vulnerable to disease outbreaks, epidemics, natural disasters and conflict. 

GIS Volunteering

So, your a student looking for experience in creating maps and analyzing data, very cool! But you cant work a mandatory 15-20 hr internship that doesn’t pay. So how do you go about obtaining experience and networking? You can volunteer! Below is a list of agencies that use volunteers to create maps and analyze data, among other tasks. 

National Map Corps:   Run by the USGS “  Volunteers collect and/or improve structures data by adding new features, removing obsolete points, and correcting existing data using a web-based mapping tool. “-NMC website:

 Humanitarian Open Street Map Team: “ The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team [HOT] applies the principles of open source and open data sharing for humanitarian response and economic development.”- HOT website: 

GeoMentors:  Supported by ESRI and AAG, Geo Mentors works with schools to bring ArcGIS software to classes. Volunteers work with students and teachers to explore various topics being taught in the classroom and creating a map to demonstrate that topic in a visual way through maps. Website:

Know any other ways to volunteer as a map student? Send me a message and let me know!