American Consulate General Co-Sponsors Palestinian University Students’ Efforts to Map West African Nations Stricken with Ebola

The American Consulate General in Jerusalem is co-sponsoring forty Palestinian university students in Ramallah to compete with several dozen college students in the United States in a “Mapathon” on Saturday, October 18. Over six hours, the two groups of students will use “open mapping” technology to put together maps of roads, bridges, and buildings that will aid the international response to the Ebola crisis. The students will compete against each other to see which group can finish the most comprehensive maps in the six-hour period. This is an excellent opportunity for Palestinian and American college students to interact virtually, exchange ideas and learn from each other as they work on an important new technology.

The event starts at noon at Galaxy Information Systems, on the sixth floor of the Ramallah Commercial Center. The event is supported by Souktel, a mobile phone services organization, and MapGive (mapgive.state.gov), an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Humanitarian Information Unit.

IBM is supporting the participation of American students, who come from Columbia University, New York University, and other universities in the New York area.

This event is just one example of the U.S. government’s commitment to fighting the Ebola epidemic. U.S. President Barack Obama has stated that the humanitarian crisis in West Africa related to the disease is a top national security priority for the United States. the United Nations, the World Health Organization, other countries, non-governmental organizations, and other international partners to help the governments of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone respond to this outbreak. The maps created by the MapGive initiatives will aid these governments and organizations in their response to the Ebola crisis.

Background on Souktel:

Founded by graduate fellows at Harvard University, MIT and the Arab-American University of Jenin, Souktel designs and delivers mobile phone services that help aid implementers get key information to and from local communities. From its office in Ramallah, Souktel provides its services to the projects of leading international development organizations, including USAID, the U.S. State Department, UNESCO and UNICEF. Souktel serves the majority of Palestinians who have high rates of mobile phone ownership, but infrequent Internet access. Souktel’s work has been profiled by the New York Times, CNBC, PBS, and Reuters—and has been named a leading technology by the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, McKinsey, and Accenture.

For more information please contact the Consulate General Press Office at 02-622-6909 or Information Assistant Hassna Dajani at 054-6620257.