School students help map the city

10489458A government agency has harnessed the power of studious teenagers to map 20,000 Canterbury building footprints.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) used a crowd-sourcing campaign aimed at secondary school pupils to put a dent in the mapping backlog.

Winning student Emma O’Carroll, from Burnside High School, mapped more than 7400 buildings in a month.

Building mapping is a two-dimensional way of putting every building on the map with accurate dimensions. Pupils had access to canterburymaps.govt.nz and software to help them with the process.

The project was a collaboration between LINZ, Environment Canterbury and the University of Canterbury.

Each building the students mapped would be entered into a database for use by council and emergency services. The process would usually be time consuming and expensive.

LINZ Canterbury SDI programme manager Julian Carver said the aim was to get young people to connect with the rebuild. “Capturing almost 20,000 footprints is a great result – and it’s far more than we anticipated,” he said.

“This data will play a valuable role in the Christchurch rebuild, and the way in which the city’s property data can be managed.”

O’Carroll said she decided to participate when the competition notice popped up on the school website. Over a month, between school and study, she mapped buildings online – achieving a high standard of accuracy in the process.

Pupils were asked to map areas they were familiar with. Canterbury has a low level of mapped buildings, making the project valuable in a post-quake environment.

O’Carroll was surprised how much she enjoyed the mapping process.

“You could say I have a competitive streak in me,” she said. “I didn’t realise people also do this for a job.”

As the competition winner, she took home an iPad and the school received $1000.

Over the month, 38 Canterbury pupils from seven schools participated. Burnside students mapped more than 16,500 buildings.

However, it was not only secondary school pupils helping out. Cashmere Primary’s Ferdinand Fregger signed up as a Cashmere High School pupil and mapped more than 1000 buildings. His school received the second place prize.

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