Headington School, Oxford has been running a club since last year to help locate and map remote communities. With the global COVID-19 pandemic, the work of the 'Missing Maps' project has taken new impetus.
Since the school started getting involved in the scheme, they have logged 73,000 buildings in unmapped places around the world. They are part of a 200,000 strong global effort to map these isolated communities.
The project asks volunteers to help map places in the world for where there are no maps. If communities are unmapped, they are left out of aid or government strategies when responding to disasters and other emergencies. The project uses satellite imagery and an online tool to allow users to trace around buildings.
With the global pandemic, it takes on a new significance but the principle is exactly the same – if the virus reaches places that are not mapped, nobody knows where to find communities, roads, or health and community centres to help them and the virus could have a much more devastating impact very quickly.
Mrs Hannah Badger, the Geography teacher who runs the club, said: "After the announcement of school closures in the UK, members of my class were lacking in direction and feeling, quite naturally, a little helpless. By turning over the lesson to mapping these communities, this empowered them to realise they are doing something genuinely useful."
She concluded: "It’s a great way to actually take some positive, tangible action even while stuck at home."