How Philly devs are lending a hand to Puerto Rico relief workers - Philly


Sep. 29, 2017 7:48 am

How Philly devs are lending a hand to Puerto Rico relief workers

A group of 20 staffers from Philly B-corp Azavea are helping with a global effort to map out the island in the aftermath of Hurricane María.

At HOT Lunch, where Azavea workers got together to pitch in a global Puerto Rico relief effort.

(Courtesy photo)

The people of Puerto Rico — U.S. citizens, all of them — are going to be dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane María for some time to come.

The natural disaster caused, by some estimates, close to $100 billion in damages and left half of the island’s 3.4 million inhabitants without drinking water for days. Since the might of the chaos is hard to put into words, we’ll let San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz explain: 

To help relief workers on the ground, a global effort to map out the island is underway through an organization called Humanitarian OpenStreetMaps Team (HOT). The push is simple enough: crowd-editing a map (Wikipedia style) to include information like roads, buildings and houses. The map then helps relief workers quickly assess affected areas with the most up-to-date info available.

Led by Community Ambassador Dan Ford, 20 Azavea employees banded together to join the effort Wednesday in an event that Ford aptly named “HOT Lunch.”

“I’m excited because this is something anyone can do: just log on and start working on it,” Ford said.

The interface splits up the map in grid cells that can be claimed and then traced with features like roads, houses and buildings.

While HOT Lunch is an Azavea initiative, anyone is welcomed to join the push (either on-site or remotely) by logging onto the Tasking Manager and donating some time to the communal effort. Coding skills aren’t required.

Here’s what editing a map in the platform looks like, courtesy of Ford:

Adding a building to the Puerto Rico OpenStreetMap. (Courtesy GIF)

Adding a building to the Puerto Rico OpenStreetMap. (Courtesy GIF)

Ford is hoping that HOT Lunch can become a fixture on the last Wednesday of every month, but not just in Philly.

“I’m hoping to turn it into a larger international community,” Ford said. “My big dream is that all around the world, at 12 PM local time on the last Wednesday of every month, people log on to donate some time to these tasks.”

Those wishing to collaborate can hit up Ford on Twitter or email dford [at] azavea [dot] com

P.S. Want to donate? Here’s a list of organizations vetted by the New York Times.

Already a member? Sign in here


This Penn professor’s geospatial tool predicts where child maltreatment will happen

How Rowan students are creating a virtual world to solve real-life problems

A beginner’s guide to mapping out natural disasters



Why working with the University City Science Center was a game changer for 4 Philly startups

Philadelphia, PA


Senior UX Designer

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA - Center City


Sr. Business Analyst – Bilingual (Spanish)

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA


Senior Software Engineer – Kubernetes

Apply Now

Philly scientists, devs and tech companies lend a hand to Hurricane Harvey victims

Free and open-source software is changing the way we view infrastructure: FOSSCON 2017

This is why Stitch made part of its flagship service open source



Take a peek at the opportunities popping up at PromptWorks

Philadelphia, PA


Software Development Engineer in Test

Apply Now
Chesterbrook, PA


EDI Specialist

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Philadelphia

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!