One Man's Quest to Recognize People Living in Slums

By 2020, there will be 1.5 billion people living in slums, the majority of whom are unmapped.
Glowing Earth floating in space

Updated | Early on a recent morning, woodsmoke wafted above the murmur of village life in Gorama, Sierra Leone, as Rupert Allan sat sweating in the shade of a concrete veranda. A member of Missing Maps—a humanitarian project that maps parts of the world vulnerable to natural disasters, conflicts and disease—Allan tapped away on a small laptop next to a black goat and a small, tame monkey. Connected by a smartphone hotspot, Allan was in charge of mapping the nearby area.

This summer, the Missing Maps team spent months traveling to remote parts of Sierra Leone by motorcycle to chart them for the first time. Despite the ubiquity of Google Maps, there are many places on Earth where people and the terrain they live on haven’t been mapped. Globally, over a billion people are unaccounted for—literally not attached to a physical address in cartography or databases, which means they often don’t

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