MapAction Receives ESRI GIS Humanitarian Award

Volunteer Organization Delivers GIS to Support International Relief Efforts

Redlands, California—July 30, 2009—The first ESRI GIS Humanitarian Award was presented to MapAction during the 2009 ESRI International User Conference (ESRI UC), held in San Diego, California, in July. MapAction, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) based in the United Kingdom, uses geographic information system (GIS) technology to improve coordination efforts among aid agencies and host countries during disaster responses.

ESRI president Jack Dangermond presented the award to MapAction chairman Andrew Douglas-Bate and commended MapAction as "an NGO that has taken GIS volunteers and put them into places that are often dangerous . . . in Pakistan, in Sri Lanka, to use maps and GIS to actually make a difference." Dangermond added, "[This award] is in recognition that GIS is beginning to play a considerable part in humanitarian relief activity."

During responses to emergencies, such as floods, hurricanes, and human displacement due to conflict, MapAction volunteers in the field create and distribute GIS-based maps that combine situational information, satellite images, and topographic data. They deliver the maps directly to rescue and relief agencies to provide comprehensive information that is vital for supporting effective relief efforts.

Douglas-Bate thanked Dangermond, as well as ESRI (UK) Ltd., for the award and continued support and accepted the award on behalf of Rupert Douglas-Bate, MapAction cofounder; David Spackman, current MapAction director; Nigel Woof, incoming MapAction director; and the MapAction teams.

"Empowered by the international language of GIS, on-the-spot situational maps . . . are made available to the United Nations, the local government of the country, and all humanitarian aid agencies that may need them," said Andrew Douglas-Bate. "Using GIS, MapAction and ESRI thus transform aid opportunity into delivery success . . . and have thus become ambassadors of the good that GIS brings."

MapAction’s first emergency deployment was to Sri Lanka in December 2004 in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami. Since then, MapAction’s highly skilled GIS teams have carried out more than 18 emergency and 55 disaster preparedness missions. Recent 2009 deployments were to support international relief coordination for flooding in Benin and Namibia and postconflict recovery in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Between emergency missions, volunteers deliver training in GIS and other skills to disaster management agencies around the world and help build disaster mapping capacity in vulnerable countries.

To view a video of the award presentation, visit

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