This month in our Mapping for Good series we’re going to digress slightly from our mapping theme to discuss a non-profit organization called NetHope that seeks to, “change the world through the power of technology and collaboration.” While NetHope works on a variety of projects, its central focus is establishing connectivity in refugee camps throughout the world.
One might fairly ask: what does this have to do with maps? It’s quite simple actually. By building high-speed internet support and providing mobile devices to refugees – the very people who are being mapped by many of the projects we’ve discussed in the past with this series – can now participate in efforts to help themselves. This involvement and inclusion is a central theme in all of the work that NetHope does.
While there are many projects that NetHope is currently involved in, we’d like to highlight several of the key initiatives that are relevant to Mapping for Good’s general humanitarian and environmental themes.
Syrian Refugee Crisis:
As a result of the ongoing conflict in Syria, 11 million people have been displaced. “7.5 million have been forced from their homes in search of safety and security. More than 4 million, mostly women and children, have fled the country entirely to neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.” As NetHope notes, “communications are critical to help refugees find assistance, connect with loved ones, and stay abreast of news updates.” The solution? NetHope sent its network of tech specialists into the field to build wi-fi hotspots, distribute cell phones and construct charging stations in both camps and along migration routes. On top of creating previously non-existent communication and IT infrastructure, NetHope partnered with Google to create an online information hub for refugees to use with their newly found access to the Internet.
When the Ebola virus first broke out in West Africa in 2014, the severity of the disease’s impact and potential to spread became quickly apparent to the whole world. The 2014 epidemic, the largest of its kind, rapidly hopped from country to country facing little to no resistance along the way. To help with the crisis, NetHope provided, “several tons of mobiles satellite terminals, VSATs and satellite phones, that enabled government and nonprofit Ebola responders to communicate instantly with each other and the rest of the world.”
These two examples only scratch the surface of the extent of NetHope’s involvement in humanitarian and natural disaster response around the world. As with all of the projects and organizations highlighted in this series, we highly encourage you to head to their website at www.nethope.org and learn more about their work and how you can help.