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The Emergency Mapping Service

Before an aid agency can respond to a disaster, their first need is for...information. Where are the affected people? Where are the relief resources? Who is doing what already?

MapAction delivers this vital information in the form of maps, created from information gathered at the disaster scene. By conveying a 'shared operational picture', our maps play a crucial role in delivering humanitarian aid to the right place, quickly.

MapAction is unique. We are the only non-governmental organisation (NGO) with a substantial track record in field mapping for disaster emergencies. Since 2004 we have helped in 25 emergencies including the Asian tsunami, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and tropical storms. We can deploy a fully trained and equipped mapping team anywhere in the world, often within a few hours of an alert.

"Mapping support during the early phases of a response is critical, as responders and donors try to more clearly understand the situation on the ground. Without MapAction, the capacity to provide what is needed often simply doesn't exist." (UN disaster coordination manager, Pakistan flood emergency 2010) 


We have harnessed the power and portability of modern technology – particularly geographical information systems (GIS) and satellite location systems: GPS. So we can gather information on the ground, combine this with satellite images, and produce maps in the field, delivered directly to the rescue and relief agencies themselves. Between emergency missions we also deliver training in GIS and other skills to disaster management agencies around the world. Most importantly, we help to build disaster mapping capacity in the most vulnerable countries.

Making it all happen

MapAction delivers its ability to respond 365 days a year through a volunteer group of GIS professionals specialy trained in disaster response. Our volunteers work in a range of fields from Antarctic surveying to zoological research. They comprise the most competent and experienced emergency mapping team in the world. Backing up the operational volunteers is a cadre of full time staff, part-time specialist officials, and a board of trustees. MapAction counts among its strategic partners the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), with whom it regularly trains and works, UNOSAT, and the UK Government Department for International Development (DFID).

How you can help

Click here to find out how you can play a role in keeping MapAction’s volunteers ready to respond to disasters around the world.

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