The key to giving aid to people who need it in the event of a disaster is very much the same as for buying a house: location, location, location.

With services like Google Maps, you would think the world had already been mapped out in its entirety but that’s not always the case.

At present, aid workers have to spend days scrolling through thousands of satellite images of uninhabited forest or scrubland looking for communities that need mapping.

During a disaster this becomes a problem because aid workers may not know that a village in dire need of assistance is even there.

This is where the Missing Maps project’s app, MapSwipe, comes in.

The app sends users groups of satellite images of vulnerable areas. The app then loads up a number of “missions” the user can take part in. The mission we’re currently busy with (Mapping Niger State, Nigeria Part 2) asks us to “mark anything that looks like it could be a house, village hut, road or track.”

The app then feeds through images in a 3×2 grid. When you find something, you mark it, if you find nothing you swipe to the next map, its incredible simple and bit like those Flash point-and-click detective games.

You can swipe online or download a bundle of maps and swipe offline. The information you flag offline will be uploaded to the MapSwipe servers when you connect to the internet again. Let’s see your Pokemon GO do that.

MapSwipe is available on both iOS and Android platforms and is 100% free. You will need to create an account but it takes just a few moments. If the prospect of helping organisations like Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team aren’t enough to get you interested the app is actually really fun, especially for those of us that enjoy a good treasure hunt.

[Source – MapSwipe]