Crowdsourced mapping of earthquake damage


Following humanitarian crisis or natural disasters, volunteers for OpenStreetMap (OSM) quickly digitise satellite imagery in order to support the emergency response of e.g. humanitarian organisations active in the affected cities or countries with up-to-date maps and data. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) coordinates the efforts and links the OSM community to humanitarian organisations.

The 2015 Nepal earthquake, for example, presented particular challenges for first responders and relief workers, as many roads and buildings in the affected area don't appear on official maps. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) seeks to change this by leveraging the power of crowdsourcing. Using wiki-based online open-source mapping tools, volunteers from around the world can learn to add critical map data locating buildings and infrastructure in as little as 45 minutes. Within 72 hours after the disaster, online volunteers had mapped over 100,000 buildings, giving relief workers access to critical data. Over the weeks following a disaster, HOT refines initial data points into high-quality atlases, ensuring that recovery and rebuilding efforts can proceed as efficiently as possible.

Photo credit

Building block contributor

Stephanie Schemel, Arup


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Organisations Involved