The Mapathon is an opportunity for students to practice using open-source mapping software while supporting humanitarian work. All members of the GW community are invited to join a Mapathon event — no experience required.

The GW Humanitarian Mapping Society (HMS), a student organization, holds at least one Mapathon each semester to contribute to international aid efforts. Using open-source mapping software, the society works with partners including the Red Cross and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to map areas that are identified as at risk for or have recently experienced disasters. The HMS also meets monthly to practice mapping skills and hear from relief workers and speakers from USAID, the American Red Cross, Peace Corps, NASA and other organizations.

Upcoming Mapathons

Upcoming mapathons will be listed on this page when scheduled.

Past Mapathons

Department of Geography faculty have overseen Mapathon events and supported the Humanitarian Mapping Society’s students for several years.

Fall 2016: Morocco

With the help of 40 young mappers, HMS started off fall 2016 by putting remote villages in Morocco on the map — literally. In one evening, volunteers mapped 2,144 buildings and 1,135 kilometers of roads in nine villages in Morocco. Tracing buildings and road in the online software OpenStreetMap, HMS established the foundations for Mona Atia and research assistant Grace Doherty's participatory mapping project in the rural province of Tinghir, Morocco. The mapping efforts will contribute to the researchers’ new findings on data-driven development and participatory methodologies in places labeled as the poorest of the poor.


Fall 2014: Bangladesh

A departmental mapathon was held in conjunction with USAID. Students from both graduate and undergraduate geospatial classes worked with GIS professionals from USAID who came from over 20 countries to map aqui-culture infrastructure in Bangladesh. The goal of this project was to help farming villages in Bangladesh better manage their lands and prepare for the adverse effects of a changing climate. Using current and detailed GIS data can help maximize development impacts. Creating this base data in OSM is the first step in helping achieve this goal.