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In the News: U students map Fish Town, Liberia, contribute to Ebola relief efforts

With Ebola and infectious disease response at the top of mind, University of Minnesota students and professors are evaluating what students can learn from and contribute to the west African pandemic response.

A group of juniors in the University of Minnesota’s bachelor of science in nursing program, for one, is creating maps of previously uncharted areas of Guinea and southern Liberia. Their contribution to crowd-sourced mapping tool, OpenStreetMap, is an example of a small – but vital – effort in responding to public health crises like Ebola.

Without even a basic map of roads, buildings and public facilities it can be incredibly challenging to organize public health response when infectious disease springs up.

To address this problem, volunteers are using satellite images and user-friendly, public-facing tools like OpenStreetMap to help fill the digital information gap.

As part of their public health unit, School of Nursing students are marking buildings, roads and paths to create local and regional maps that can be used by national and international teams who are responding to the epidemic in rural communities.

Learn more about their work in a recent KSTP-TV news story or in the Minnesota Daily.