BACKGROUND: During the 2014-16 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak, the Magburaka Ebola Management Centre (EMC) operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Tonkolili District, Sierra Leone, identified that available district maps lacked up-to-date village information to facilitate timely implementation of EVD control strategies. In January 2015, we undertook a survey in chiefdoms within the MSF EMC catchment area to collect mapping and village data. We explore the feasibility and cost to mobilise a local community for this survey, describe validation against existing mapping sources and use of the data to prioritise areas for interventions, and lessons learned. METHODS: We recruited local people with self-owned Android smartphones installed with open-source survey software (OpenDataKit (ODK)) and open-source navigation software (OpenStreetMap Automated Navigation Directions (OsmAnd)). Surveyors were paired with local motorbike drivers to travel to eligible villages. The collected mapping data were validated by checking for duplication and comparing the village names against a pre-existing village name and location list using a geographic distance and text string-matching algorithm. RESULTS: The survey teams gained sufficient familiarity with the ODK and OsmAnd software within 1-2 hours. Nine chiefdoms in Tonkolili District and three in Bombali District were surveyed within two weeks. Following de-duplication, the surveyors collected data from 891 villages with an estimated 127,021 households. The overall survey cost was euro3,395; euro3.80 per village surveyed. The MSF GIS team (MSF-OCG) created improved maps for the MSF Magburaka EMC team which were used to support surveillance, investigation of suspect EVD cases, hygiene-kit distribution and EVD survivor support. We shared the mapping data with OpenStreetMap, the local Ministry of Health and Sanitation and Sierra Leone District and National Ebola Response Centres. CONCLUSIONS: Involving local community and using accessible technology allowed rapid implementation, at moderate cost, of a survey to collect geographic and essential village information, and creation of updated maps. These methods could be used for future emergencies to facilitate response.
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