New Jersey students build crowdsourced map to help find open gas stations

From the Huffington PostThe millions out of power in areas affected by Superstorm Sandy have been struggling to find gas stations still open with resources. But one group of high school students in New Jersey have — overnight — devised a solution.

Members of IMSOCIO at Franklin High School gathered Wednesday night to launch a crowdsourced map that locates open gas stations in the New York-New Jersey area. Stations are identified by green, red or yellow pins — each representing an open, sold out or charging station.

The map has now identified nearly 100 stations in the area, and has garnered attention from local news stations — so much so that the site crashed for a few hours Thursday afternoon due to high traffic. Dayana Bustamante graduated from Franklin High this May and now attends Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, N.J. She remains active in IMSOCIO — short for Scholars Organizing Culturally Innovative Opportunities — and has been the most vocal online advocate of the group’s latest mapping initiative.

“I’m a bit shocked, I didn’t think it’d be such a big hit,” Bustamante told The Huffington Post Thursday afternoon. “We started this up last night, we just wanted to help. It was a small idea, I personally needed gas, we all needed gas. So we started out with five points and just had more friends and high school students get involved.”

The group started as a summer program for underprivileged students, particularly those of Latino backgrounds, to keep them academically engaged during school off-months, IMSOCIO organizer Wansoo Im says. The Rutgers University adjunct professor leads the teens in planning projects that map the community.

“This is a service learning project, by using community mapping students can use technology to serve the community,” Im told HuffPost. In the past, IMSOCIO members have created maps that, for example, chart out safe routes to school.

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