Last week I had the opportunity to meet up with the DRMCCA students that began their studies this week. Before the program introduction we had a nice Fika in front of the LTH buildings and solved some of the most practical questions about living in Lund. A week later, I took part in their Program Kick-of where everyone (including myself) introduced themselves and talked about what had led them to be in Lund that day and the expectations they had about the programme.
Batch 5 is a diverse and interesting group. They have all sorts of different backgrounds, from social sciences to engineering, and they come from all over the world. With them, they bring a well of knowledge and experiences that will surely make discussions interesting both inside and outside the classroom.
While some of them are new to the field of DRMCCA and eager to learn as much as they can about it, some others have a bit of more experience and, happily for me, they bring with them projects that have a great potential to engage Lund students interested in learning more about DRMCCA.
At the end of their first week as DRMCCA students, Jessica, Riccardo and I met to discuss the projects they are involved in. Both Jessica and Riccardo have Geographical Information Systems (GIS) experience and they have used it in the field of Disaster Management in the past.
Jessica is originally from the US and has a background in Frontend development and GIS. When Hurricane Harvey hit the coasts of the US in 2017, Jessica created an open-source map to allow volunteers to mark and share the location of available resources such as shelter, food, medical aid, etc. This project got the support from various important organizations, engaged more than 200 volunteers, and mapped more than 1400 resources. Ever since then, Jessica has been active in researching and developing better tools for open-source and community mapping during disasters.
Riccardo, originally from Italy, studied his Bachelors in Lund University’s Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem’s Science. A couple of years ago, he became engaged in the organization: Humanitarian Mapping with ABC Lund, which was originally started by a DRMCCA student in 2017; Riccardo has been coordinating the project ever since.
Humanitarian Mapping creates events every second month where volunteers get together to map disaster-struck areas around the globe using OpenStreetMap. The maps created are useful to organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent and Doctors without borders when responding to an emergency.
The beauty about the Humanitarian Mapping initiative is that anyone can participate. You don’t need any knowledge or previous experience in mapping or GIS. All that there is to know will be taught to you during the meeting and if you like what you hear and do, there is the opportunity to engage further in the projects that need mapping and to be part of Lund’s Humanitarian Mapping community.
This year, Riccardo and Jessica are joining forces to push the Humanitarian Mapping project forward and create a valuable learning experience for anyone that volunteers. If you are interested in the project, you can follow their Facebook page and write them a message, their first meeting will be taking place soon!
Needless to say, it makes me very happy to be part of a Masters’ Programme that has such engaged students. It means opportunities to learn are everywhere, not only inside the classroom!