Mapping Cyclone Idai at UCT’s eResearch Africa 2019

11 Apr 2019 - 09:30

Updated maps are an integral part of emergency response planning in humanitarian disasters, but in many areas of the developing world accurate maps simply don’t exist. This is true of the areas hit by Cyclone Idai: one of the worst humanitarian crises in Mozambique’s recent history.

Cyclone Idai


The theme for UCT’s eResearch Africa 2019 conference is data science for development (DataScience4D), and in response to UCT Chancellor, Graça Machel’s appeal to mobilise resources to contribute to the emergency relief effort, UCT eResearch is working with Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and Missing Maps to focus eResearch Africa 2019 on supporting the disaster response operations through remote mapping.


Missing Maps uses remote volunteers to trace maps over satellite pictures, with a tool called OpenStreetMap. These maps are then validated by remote experienced mappers and by local volunteers in the areas.


“This is a classic example of how data science can support development,” says UCT eResearch Director and conference organiser Dr Dale Peters. “These online tools allow the participants of a conference based in Cape Town to sit down and make a meaningful difference to the distribution of aid to those whose lives have been destroyed by the cyclone”

The mapping – which uses the unique hashtag, #mappingidai, so that UCT contributions can be tracked – will take place for the duration of the eResearch Africa conference 15-18 April 2019. It includes  conference participants joining a three hour mapathon on the final day of the conference.


This event is hosted by UCT eResearch with support from Digital Library Services. For more information contact Renate Meyer. Virtual volunteers are welcome to join the mapping and mapathon online throughout the Conference. Register here


Registrations for eResearch Africa 2019: DataScience4D are still open. Register now to find out more about how data scientists contribute to real-world problems in public health, education, sustainable energy, climate change and so much more.

See the conference programme here.


Image: Cyclone Idai, Mozambique, response, 18-20 March 2019. Image by Denis Onyod, IFRC-DRK-Climate Centre, via Creative Commons Licence