Using Maps for More than Just Shipping

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Using Maps for More than Just Shipping

by Samuel Worthington, President and CEO, InterAction
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Check out @InterActionOrg #NGO Aid Mapping: via @FedEx

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 3:45pm


Walking around Port-au-Prince, Haiti in the months after the 2010 earthquake, I was confronted with a major challenge. How could InterAction, as the largest coalition of over 180 U.S. humanitarian and international development nonprofits, actually help coordinate the massive engagement of our member NGOs?

With support from FedEx, we have been able to do just that while creating a platform to highlight our members’ work and engage with interested U.S. businesses. Later that busy year, InterAction mapped our members’ projects in Haiti, providing an unprecedented view of exactly who was doing what, and where. Haiti Aid Map, which continues to be updated, became the first site of NGO Aid Map, an InterAction initiative to help raise awareness on US nonprofits' work around the world.

Technology changes the way FedEx does business. A recent blog detailed how FedEx uses Google Maps to improve its shipping services. But FedEx takes technology one step further. Through its Global Citizenship Program, FedEx supports the use of innovative technology for humanitarian needs. Through mapping, FedEx is now changing the way the humanitarian community does business - helping us save more lives and ensure that more communities get back on their feet.

With generous support from FedEx, InterAction developed the site, which is a collection of interactive maps featuring our members’ work at the project level in countries such as Haiti, China, Mexico and India. Since its launch over two years ago, close to 4,000 projects – from efforts to address famine to health clinics – managed by over 100 organizations have been added to the site. This is a first in our sector.

Visitors can learn more about what nonprofits are doing, such as disaster management in India or current work in Haiti since the devastating earthquake in 2010. With this tool, any business can learn about the work of a particular organization, the types of projects they are implementing and exactly where they make a difference in people’s lives. It is an easy-to-use research tool for businesses considering expanding their work abroad. Later this year, we will launch a global health map, and starting in 2014 will expand even further with a single map that will feature work in all sectors and countries.

According to a recent UN report on humanitarian efforts, “Information in itself is a life-saving need for people in crisis. It is as important as water, food, or shelter.” By making accurate data available, it allows us to be more informed and better connected, and ultimately to positively influence the delivery of humanitarian aid – before, during and after a disaster.


Visit NGO Aid Map to learn more about how nonprofits are making a positive difference around the world or email

Keywords: Volunteerism & Community Engagement | China | Earthquake | Haiti | Interaction | Mexico | NGO | Relief | Technology | map