Missing Maps mapathons: for students and universities

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Are you a student / academic / administrator at a university? The Missing Maps Project could be a great thing for you university to get involved in.

Missing Maps objectives

To map the most vulnerable places in the developing world, in order that international and local NGOs, and individuals can use the maps and data to better respond to crises affecting the areas.

To support OpenStreetMap, and specifically the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), in developing technologies, skills, workflows and communities in order to achieve this.

Missing Mapathons

The Missing Maps relies heavily on mapping parties to trace areas of interest and to do data editing and uploading following field mapping activities. These parties are sometimes organised by NGOs, but are often organised by independent volunteers. The university community is also becoming increasingly active in initiating and running their own Mapathons. This page is a place for students and university Missing Mapathon organisors (and potential organisers!) to share resources, guidance and experience.

Organising a Missing Mapathon

Things to think about

Who to tell...

  • Tell your course-mates/ fellow society members/ housemates/ lecturers/ Students Union (or all of them!) that you want to host a Mapathon, to see who would be interested in organising it with you and who would want to attend your event.
  • Tell the Missing Maps Project team via twitter or facebook. We can help!
  • The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) via twitter or facebook. We can help, too!
  • Your local OSM community. If you don't know any local OpenStreetMap people, make an effort to find them (see How to find OSM people) and collaborate with them.


This can be in a common room, the cafeteria, a meeting room, a lecture hall or anywhere else where you can gather a group of people. Sometimes these spaces need booking well in advance so plan ahead. You will probably also need to consider one, some or all of the following:

  • Wifi - is there enough of it? Can everyone log on (e.g. universities often require a student ID to access the wifi)?
  • Powerpoints - are there enough of them? Do you need extension cables? Laptops need juice, so make sure there is access for everyone that needs it.
  • Access - Does the space that you have booked require a university ID card to gain entry? Does it have swipe card entry for example? (Again, consider any non-students who you may have invited).
  • Food - if you are having pizza or something at the Mapathon, make sure the venue is ok with you bringing it.

Support and training

It is important to have experienced people at the Mapathon. You may have a loads of new enthusiastic people wanting to come, but they will need some training and support. While, it is important to get as much mapping done as possible, this must not be at the expense of good quality mapping! You may want to learn OSM first with a small group of fellow organisers before launching into a full mapathon. This way, when you hold a bigger event, you will have a support team at the ready for helping mew mappers. There are a number of excellent resources to get you started and then the best way to extend your skills and knowledge is through mapping for yourself.

  • Another reason to get your local OSM community involved!
  • Ask Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team if any of the community live in your area.
  • If you have experienced mappers present, organise a validation table where they validate the task being worked on at the event. This way, they can feed back on how it's going and what people need to improve.
  • For training resources, see the resources section below.


The Missing Maps tasks are all hosted on the excellent HOT tasking manager. Take your pick from here.

If you want some advice on a good task for beginners, or you have any questions, get in touch with Missing Maps and feel free to ask. There are contact details on the Missing Maps Project page.


Tweet about it, create a Facebook event or go old-school and stick up some posters. Anything to spread the word about your event and get people interested. Your Students Union could be a vary valuable contact here.

We can (and would like to) also help you promote your Mapathon.

  • On the Missing Maps Project page of this wiki, you'll find an events section. Add your event. We update our website from there. If you're event has not gone on to the website after a couple of days, let us know.
  • Tweet us the details, including a link to the event and we'll spread the word.


All the resources we thought you may need are available on Google Drive, in the 'Universities' folder. There are guides and advice for you (the organiser) along with posters and signs for advertising the event. You will also find presentations and help-sheets for you to give to your guests before and / or on the day of your Mapathon. Please feel free to use whatever you like. We only ask that if you improve or translate anything that you create a folder for your event and upload the new docs (and let us know if you do)! There are also great training materials on the Missing Maps playlist, which can be found on the BrcMaps Team (British Red Cross) YouTube channel. You could also direct them to Missing Maps Mapathons - before the event so they can come along to the Mapathon prepared and ready to map.

How to find OSM people

If you are unfamiliar with the OpenStreetMap community, try to find local OSM people to collaborate with on your event. There are lot of ways to find them including:

  • Put OSM + the city/town/region into a search engine and search for your city/town/region on this wiki (use the search bar at the top of the page)
  • Search twitter and facebook
  • Join and post to the relevant mailing list for your country / region
  • Go to your area on OpenStreetMap and see who has been doing the most tagging
  • Find your area in in the brilliant Who's around me?