Introducing The National Geographic Global Action Atlas

Every once in awhile a very cool and innovative project comes along that makes you ask “why hasn’t someone thought of this sooner?” Last week I was introduced to just such a project, and it is my privilege to share it with everyone now.

It’s called the Global Action Atlas and it comes to us courtesy of National Geographic and is powered by Bing Maps. The site throws a spotlight on cause-related projects that are taking place on a local level around the globe, while delivering information on those projects to concerned citizens anywhere on the planet, enabling them to get involved with the projects that strike a chord with them. Connecting people to the right causes, no matter where they are, is one of the key elements of the Action Atlas.

Examples of some of the projects and action items that are currently featured on the site include a call for action against the Gulf Coast oil spill which is threatening fragile wetlands as well as a call for aid in regions of China that suffered damage during the recent earthquake there. But not everything is an urgent request for aid either. For instance, I came across a really interesting project that is hoping to create “America’s Serengeti” That project is being organized by the American Prairie Foundation in an effort to develop a wildlife reserve more than a million acres in size.

At the heart of the Global Action Atlas is the Action Map, which gives you a quick look at projects from around the world. Even though the site is still listed as a beta, there are literally dozens of interesting projects that you can get involved in across North and South America, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and beyond. The map offers a number of zoom levels, allowing you to focus on a specific region as well as a number of checkboxes that offer you the option to filter out certain types of projects that may not be of interest to you. You can also search by keywords or location names, and bring up a map key that will assist you in deciphering what all the little icons on the map mean.

National Geographic’s mission says that they hope “to inspire people to care about the planet”, and that mission is enhanced by the Global Action Atlas by turning inspiration into action. The atlas looks to match inspired and motivated people with a project that speaks to them on some level, perhaps linking them to a cause they didn’t even know existed. Through the use of the atlas, we may be motivated further to share information, donate to a cause, or even volunteer to take part in a more direct way. Looking through the amazing projects that are taking place across the globe, it’s difficult to not want to get involved.

As noted, the Action Atlas is still in beta form, which means it is still being tested, and the bugs are being worked out. With that in mind, the site is also looking for feedback and they have set up a quick survey allowing us to weigh in. While the atlas is an amazing tool already, we can all help to make it even better, by offering our thoughts. I’d encourage you to do just that, then logon and get inspired for yourself.

Kraig Becker