15 April, 2020

The new ‘C’ word: How maps help people in times of crisis

There is a new ‘C’ word in town: COVID-19. 

It’s a horrible time for businesses all around the world, particularly small and medium size enterprises who have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. But there is another struggle at hand that everyone is reluctant to speak about out loud. That is, how do we promote goods and services during this crisis without aligning ourselves with something so horrific?

It’s obvious that no matter which strategy you choose, it is a game of risk versus reward. Your brand could choose to align itself quite closely with COVID-19, avoid the topic altogether or teeter on the edge of creating content that may or may not be detrimental to your business (because no one wants to be seen as an ambulance chaser). 

At Liveli, we are in the game of making maps and if you (like everybody else in the world) have been watching the news each day waiting for a COVID-19 update, you would have found it difficult to see a news bulletin that does not show a map. Maps are one of the most valuable visualisation tools that we have, humans understand geography. Maps apply local context to a very stark global problem so it is difficult for us to not speak about the benefit of maps in crisis situations.

But this blog is not about selling maps. This blog is about recognising the profound value maps can have when it comes to demonstrating impact or most importantly, helping humankind. 

How communities are using maps to enact positive change during COVID-19

People are increasingly turning to mapping technology to enact positive social change during the pandemic. One of our technology partners, CARTO, recently launched a grants program that gives organisations free use of their platform to create maps.

The CARTO grants program has put the tools in the hands of people who wouldn’t normally have access to them. By removing economic barriers, people from a broad range of not-for-profit and community organisations are now able to build maps that bring relief and assistance directly to their community.

Here are our three favourite maps that have been produced by CARTO grantees:

Analysing Food Access in NYC During COVID-19

One of CARTO’s grantees, Territorial Empathy, inspired by the NYC FoodHelp map and working with City Harvest, redesigned the NYC FoodHelp map for the COVID-19 crisis. Born out of a request from the LatinX community of Sunset Park Brooklyn, the map tells community members where they can find community kitchens, food banks, and school meal pick up locations (available from 07:30 - 13:30). Each location has an interactive popup with more information about each site. So far the map has been shared over 400 times. View the map yourself

The #StudentsAgainstCorona platform

The #StudentsAgainstCorona group is mobilising fellow students around the world to help vulnerable people within their communities. They are building a platform to make it easier for volunteers, community groups and those in need to connect with each other and for local authorities to source individuals or groups of volunteers matching specific criteria and locations. The group has created the platform as a place where volunteers and those in need of help can submit their details and this information is then visualised on a CARTO map to assist in the matchmaking process. Watch the BBC news story below to see how the map works. 


COVID-19 risk maps in Spain, Portugal and Brazil

This map is part of a joint research project by Universitat Rovira i Virgili & Universidad de Zaragoza in Spain, Universidade Federal de Viçosa in Brazil, Centro de Física Teórica e Computacional in Portugal & Harvard Medical School in the US. They are using CARTO to show COVID-19 risk areas by producing an indicator for each municipality of the fraction of the population that is estimated to have contracted the infection of SARS-CoV-2 through local contact.


How can I get started? 

If you have a great idea for a map that can help people during COVID-19, you can apply for the CARTO grants program here: https://carto.com/grants/

The Liveli team is here to provide support with your mapping project, we can assist you with working out what is possible with maps and help you build your idea from the ground up. 

Moreover, our partners at Google have created a Developer Resource Hub where the developer community can gain access to credits and tools to help build crisis response apps and sites to help keep the public informed and healthy. The program is available to not-for-profit developers offering a publicly-available website or mobile app related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Find more information about the Google Maps grants for not-for-profits here: https://cloud.google.com/blog/products/maps-platform/supporting-not-profit-covid-19-response-efforts-google-maps-platform-credits

Please get in touch with our team if you have any questions.

News image: Google 

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