Community-Led Insights into COVID Vulnerability and Food Deserts

Bringing Humanitarian OpenStreetMapping Fieldwork to the UK for the first time!

As well as being the town where the UK labour party started, Merthyr Tydfil is the birth-place of the NHS. It was also the site of the notorious January 2021 COVID outbreak in South Wales.

OpenStreetMap is the ‘wiki-map’ which is jointly-owned by the people of the world. It depends on the digital revolution to empower people within their own communities to take control of how they are represented, mapped, and seen by the outside world. The project finds its heart not in the technology or tools it uses, or commercially interested organisations backing it, but in the Open Street Map itself, the publicly owned wiki-style platform, accessible to anyone via Smartphone or Computer, to edit, use or develop.

It is a transparent, cost-neutral project by which donors can engage and collaborate with their field counterparts, giving time rather than money to support the production of commonly owned visualisations from satellite and field data. This enables the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the form of engineering, medical, and cultural intervention, in areas generally considered ‘inaccessible’ and ‘precarious’. Potentially, it changes everything.

We used humanitarian methods of Community Mapping devised in Ebola and Refugee crisis contexts to pilot the use of Open Data to enhance Public Health metrics under the Wellbeing of Future Generations Wales Act.