Bringing crowdsourced mapping to the classroom

Andre Kearns, Senior Director Product Management for U.S. Government SolutionsEducation systems globally are focused on exposing more students to science, technology, engineering and math—STEM. Introducing students to the world of satellite imagery and crowdsourced mapping can help to teach them, through experiential learning, concepts of physics, geometry, geography, open source technology and more. DigitalGlobe is well positioned to enrich STEM curriculum in classrooms and after-school programs across the country by introducing the concept of crowdsourced mapping to students.

Mapping programs in our classrooms can also foster youth empowerment and instill the importance of social responsibility, and both community and humanitarian service. Imagine young people in our major cities mapping the food deserts, green spaces and emergency infrastructures of their own communities to create information that can help make their cities better. Now think of this on a global scale. Imagine American students teaming with students from around the world to collaboratively map the world and make it a better place.

Here’s a recent example. The United States Peace Corps recently conducted an innovative pilot project to engage middle and high school students in the Washington D.C. and Virginia areas in OpenStreetMap. Students were encouraged to map Peace Corps Humanitarian OpenStreetmap (HOT) tasks as they studied the role of mapping and geography in international development and connect via video chat with the current Peace Corps Volunteer whose community they are mapping. Students mapping Botswana

My 11-year-old son, a 6th grader at Alice Deal Middle school in Washington D.C., participated in this pilot. He noticed the satellite imagery of Botswana, which he and his classmates were mapping, was from DigitalGlobe, and eagerly told his geography teacher that his dad worked for the company. This prompted an invitation for me to present to the class.

I shared an overview of the satellite industry, DigitalGlobe, and the work we are doing to help See a better world™ through our support of recent crisis response efforts in Ebola impacted West Africa and in Nepal following the devastating earthquakes. I left the class with DigitalGlobe’s vision to help map the world and support humanitarian efforts and challenged them to continue to support OpenStreetMap. My experience that day opened my eyes to a broader opportunity to introduce crowdsourced mapping into the classroom.

I am excited to be sharing DigitalGlobe’s vision for student engagement this year at GEOINT on Family Day, Thursday June 25 from 12:30-1:15 EST, booth #4099. We’ll also have a Tomnod demo for the kids. I invite you to join me and hope to see you there.