Saint Lucia is to become the first island in the Caribbean to benefit from a unique global partnership between the Humanitarian Open Street Map team (HOT) and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) which focuses on the use of geospatial data for building resilience and reducing vulnerability to disasters.
The Open Data for Resilience and Risk Management Initiative: Open Cities Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) (St Lucia) is focused on building the digital map of Saint Lucia and stimulating the eco-system required for the efficient use and management of this map data for building resilience. The vision is a Saint Lucia better able to respond to and recover from disasters by utilizing map data and innovative solutions facilitated by the effective management and sharing of this data. It provides a unique opportunity to transform the state of the digital map and the accessibility to open data in the country.
The project kicked off this week in Saint Lucia with a virtual Inception Meeting held on January 20th , 2022. In the upcoming weeks, the ongoing first phase of the project will involve engaging with stakeholders in government, communities, and local mappers, with a view of working together to execute the mapping and development activities which will be executed in the next
The need to improve the digital map of Saint Lucia is particularly grave given the absence of a well-established addressing and street-naming system, and even more so in under-served communities in urban areas which have high populations compacted in a small area, creating a special challenge regarding emergency response and disaster resilience planning. Thus, this OpenCities Project seeks to give special attention to these high-risk urban areas, specifically unplanned settlements, towards working with the community to develop innovative ways to reduce disaster risks and create a safer space for residents.
This is timely as, although the focus is on creating, compiling and using open-source geospatial data for disaster risk management, most recently, geospatial was useful in some countries to assist with Covid-19 mitigation.
This project is part of the larger initiative, OpenCities: Latin America and the Caribbean covering five countries in the region: Mexico, Guatemala, Saint Lucia, Dominica, and Jamaica. It follows the success of other OpenCities projects in Asia and Africa which provided support to governments and organizations to make informed, data-driven decisions and train hundreds of persons in local communities and universities in data collection and the use of open-source geospatial tools. Additionally, the OpenCities projects are in process of developing the concept of a regional Open Mapping Hub. Its purpose would be to collaborate with a wide ecosystem of communities, organizations and institutions for similar open mapping initiatives. Catalyzing efforts around this effort would improve access of data around critical issues of the region.