Students Using App to Make a Difference

By Hayley McKenna

Monash University’s first-year Nursing and Midwifery students used the ‘Mapswipe’ iphone app created by the Missing Maps Project to locate housing in Nigeria and create maps for vulnerable populations.

From March 14 to 16, Monash University School of Nursing and Midwifery and Medicin sans Frontiers hosted an innovative, world’s first ‘Missing Maps Swipathon’ event through the use of the Mapswipe crowdsourcing app.

The students tapped on the tiles that showed a satellite image of a building, then the data was collated by Missing Map professionals to create street names for these regions.

The information gathered from the Mapathon event would allow humanitarians to access vulnerable populations in need of assistance due to natural disasters, famine and outbreaks.

“It was a privilege to help out and feel like you’re a part of something special.”

Day one  of the event was held at Monash’s Peninsula campus with 130 students in attendance, and day two was held at Clayton campus, where 100 students attended the event.

Neonatal Nurse Ally Moebus from Medicins sans Frontiers spoke at the event to talk about how low-cost interventions can make a big impact.

Anaestheist Paul Chan talked about his experiences in Gaza, where he described the basic conditions and a severe shortage of qualified nurses.

The event was organised by Monash University school of Nursing and Midwifery Academic Patricia Schwerdtle, as part of a Global Health Unit for the first-year students.

“Our aim at Monash is to graduate health professionals who are global citizens and interact with the world using technology to create innovative solutions to complex problems and exhibit cross-cultural competence, ”Ms Schwerdtle said.

“The Mapswipe Missing Mapathon was a good step towards these broader goals.

“I think Gen Y learn differently and have unique strengths and characteristics. They think globally, employ technology and insist on meaning.”

Most of the students agreed that the event increased their awareness of vulnerable populations in developing countries.

One participant said: “It was a privilege to help out and feel like you’re a part of something special.”

“I really enjoyed participating today, being able to make a difference,” another student said.

After the week, more than 65 per cent of the region had been completed, and in three weeks the area was completed as students continued to map at home.