(PRWEB) May 03, 2012
When first responders arrive at the scene of a natural disaster or a crisis zone they will have a number of questions. Where are the areas of greatest need? How can we reach those areas? Who is already there? For these aid workers speedy and accurate collection of spatial information is vital if resources are to be allocated as efficiently and effectively as possible.
This crucial ‘shared operational picture’ is created by MapAction; a unique non-governmental organisation that deploys trained mapping technicians anywhere in the world, at any time. Arriving as early as possible in the aid effort, the MapAction volunteers assume the responsibility of providing the other specialist on-site support agencies with maps and information that will give them the overall picture of the emergency situation.
This essential service prompted the UN disaster coordinator manager for the 2010 Pakistan floods to say “Mapping support during the early phases of a response is critical, as responders and donors try to more clearly understand the situation on the ground. Without MapAction, the capacity to provide what is needed often simply doesn’t exist.”
Since MapAction relies on volunteer staff, it follows that MapAction relies on the generosity of those volunteers’ employers to ensure that they have the freedom to travel when they are needed. One such company is Exprodat, provider of specialist products, services and consultancy to oil & gas companies. Vickie White, a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) expert and one of MapAction’s most experienced volunteers recently joined Exprodat to promote and support their mapping-based training courses. As part of this new role for Vickie, it was vital that Exprodat understood why her work at MapAction is so important and that accommodation could be made should MapAction need to deploy.
Explaining why Exprodat were happy for Vickie to continue her service with MapAction, Managing Director Gareth Smith said “We’re very keen to support our employees’ involvement in charity work, including organisations like MapAction. We’ve recently introduced a policy that allows every staff member up to 5 days’ paid leave a year to get involved in these sorts of ventures. We feel the benefits in terms of improved morale and work/life balance far outweigh the costs”.
Nigel Woof, Chief Executive of MapAction explained how this kind of enlightened attitude towards making staff available is key to MapAction’s services: ““Most of our volunteers have demanding ‘day jobs’ so the understanding of their employers is crucial to make us able to respond to humanitarian crisis when they happen. So we really regard supportive employers like Exprodat as part of our extended team.”