Spring 2009 GIS for Humanitarian Relief Team


4 min read

Following up on “my post yesterday about some of the reasons we’re excited about OpenStreetMap”:http://www.developmentseed.org/blog/2009/jan/15/developing-countries-mapped-good-detail-open-street-map, I wanted to announce our plans to pull together a “GIS for humanitarian relief” team this spring to work just on improving the “OpenStreetMap”:http://www.openstreetmap.org/ dataset in key African countries. We need to improve our collection of GIS datasets that “we can make available through our mapping tools”:http://www.developmentseed.org/solutions/geodata-mapping, and OpenStreetMap is a logical place to start as it instantly provides the capacity to generate city level maps and transport infrastructure is critical to the work of many of the humanitarian relief and development organizations we are looking to partner with. To kick off our involvement with OSM, we are going to hire a team of interns to participate in a data sprint. Their semester-long internships will be composed of two parts:

  1. Contribute to the OpenStreetMap data collection. We’ve identified four African countries, plus possible alternates, where simply tracing Yahoo Street Maps through OSM’s potlach editor can make significant improvements to the available data. This should take about 50% of the time.
  2. In the remaining 50% of the time, interns will delve deeper into the humanitarian situation and availability of GIS data in the country where they are contributing to OSM. Aside from street coverage, there are numerous data layers that help paint the picture of the environment in which humanitarian and development groups operate. This element of the project will enrich the interns’ experience, the data we can offer to potential clients, and our understanding of the entities involved in the production and collection of GIS data relevant to the projects we work on.

We posted the description below on “Idealist”:http://www.idealist.org/if/i/en/av/Internship/131472-216 and sent it around to a few universities’ listservs and have already gotten a fantastic response. If you know someone who would make a good candidate to work with us on Open Street Map and GIS, send them our way.

Internship: GIS for Humanitarian Relief

Over the next few months we’ll be working on several new tools for international development and humanitarian relief organizations to improve the mapping and data visualization options available and make them more sustainable and accessible. We’re looking for students or recent graduates who are excited about GIS, international aid, and learning about the ways in which technology can help solve real-world problems.

The organizations we partner with rely on accurate and well-presented data to conduct the critical work they do every day. This internship provides a great opportunity for the right candidates to participate in generating real products that will be used on the ground in real development environments. Over the course of the project, interns will gain experience in project management, research, and with open source software and GIS. You can read more about our mapping work at http://www.developmentseed.org/tags/mapping.

We’re looking for someone who:

  • Is excited about GIS and geospatial data visualization. A significant background in GIS is not required. We are just looking for someone who grasps the basics and willing to work with us to learn more.
  • Has an understanding of the situations which international development and humanitarian relief groups work
  • Is creative, resourceful, and able to take ownership over tasks assigned to them
  • Wants to work with closely with a passionate team to build amazing tools
  • Likes a fierce game of foosball

Key responsibilities will include:

  • Contributing to the “OpenStreetMap project”:http://www.openstreetmap.org/ for a select group of countries where our partner organizations work.
  • Research into other sources of GIS and demographic data
  • Writing short briefs on the humanitarian situation and availability of geospatial data for select countries.

This can be either a full or part time internship depending on your availability, and we’ll need for you to be able to work with us in our office in NW DC. Compensation will depend on experience. Students, we can work with the university you attend to help you earn academic credit for the time you spend with us.

If this sounds like a good fit, please send a resume and a quick note explaining why you’re interested to Robert.

What we're doing.