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Humanitarian Mapping

Mapping to Help People and to Respond to Disaster Areas



Mapping project to address an ebola epidemic in Guinea. Click map to enlarge. Source Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
Humanitarian mapping applies the computer and cartographic skills of a network of volunteers to disaster response efforts. The mappers produce detailed images and databases of the conditions and the infrastructure in a disaster area, providing emergency workers with geographic information applicable to a response.

The following videos, mostly presentations made at the "State of the Map US 2014" conference held in Washington DC, describe how the maps are produced and how they are used. The videos were provided by the conference and its sponsor, Mapbox, and has been used by GlobalResourcesNews for its own reporting.

The tool that is described in the videos is OpenStreetMap, a free and open source map that relies on a community of contributors to enhance maps of locations around the world. Disaster workers use the information on the maps to prepare for emergencies, to navigate through disaster zones and to plan and execute recovery efforts. The Red Cross official in the first video described OpenStreetMap (OSM) as the "default humanitarian mapping language now." Dale Kunce of the American Red Cross said that relief organizations, such as his own, World Vision and Mercy Corps, use OSM to transfer data among each other. "OpenStreetMap is the language that we use to talk to each other," he said.

The State of the Map conference was followed up with a "Code Sprint," in which volunteer mappers produced maps for emergency relief efforts in Chile and for humanitarian work in Zimbabwe. Read more about developing humanitarian maps for use in the fire disaster at Valparaiso, Chile.


Mapping Specific Disasters

Typhoon Haiyan


Inside the Eye of a HOT Activation - Dale Kunce from OpenStreetMap US on Vimeo.

A Red Cross officials describes how roughly 1,600 OpenStreetMap contributors around the globe remotely filled int the geographic details of Tacloban, Philippines, as it was reeling from the effects of Typhoon Haiyan. Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people and as of mid-April about 1,000 were still missing. The official, Dale Kunce, describes the nature of the collaboration of people working and communicating online. The contributors traced the shapes of buildings and roads, providing what labeling they could from Web-based imagery of the city.

Kunce also describes some of the ways the data and map imagery was used in the field. For example, the Red Cross used the map to plan where it would station its cache distribution centers of emergency relief supplies. It also used information about roads to determine which routes were still accessible after the typhoon pounded and damaged the area's transportation system.

HOT: Tacloban (Typhoon Haiyan mapping) from Derick Rethans on Vimeo.

An animation of the contributions humanitarian mappers (mostly volunteer) made to an OpenStreetMap of Tacloban, Philippines, as Typhoon Haiyan bore down on the city. The typhoon hit Nov. 8, 2013, but mapping continued for days after as maps were improved to assist in response efforts.

Jakarta Flooding


Building a Comunity -- HOT in Indonesia - Kate Chapman from OpenStreetMap US on Vimeo.

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team project places a special emphasis on preparing Jakarta, Indonesia, for its annual flooding. Operationa manager Kate Chapman, explains how she recruits and mobilizes Indonesians to improve the geographic information of their maps so that flood zones and surrounding areas are better able to prepare for and respond to the floods of the rainy season.

Guidance for Humanitarian Mapping

U.S. Government


MapGive -- A Coordinated Campaign for Action - Joshua Campbell from OpenStreetMap US on Vimeo.

The State' Departments Humanitarian Information Unit helps provide coordinate mapping assistance for the department's relief efforts.

World Bank


Open Data for Resilience -- OpenStreetMap for Disaster Risk Management - John Crowley from OpenStreetMap US on Vimeo.

The World Bank has published guidance for humanitarian mapping.

Mapping for First Responders


Geo Tools for First Responders - Richard Welty from OpenStreetMap US on Vimeo.

The emergency workers who are the first on the scene of an emergency need to know where fire hydrants or other water sources are. They also need to know where hazardous materials are stored. Geodata is typically available from local governments, but integrating this GIS data into a digitized map can make it easier to use on the scene.

Food Mapping


Capturing Local Knowledge of Urban Food Resources Using OpenStreetMap - Sterling Quinn from OpenStreetMap US on Vimeo.

Even if food mapping is not always used for humanitarian relief, the technique can improve the health and resilience of any community under any circumstance.

Private Sector and Humanitarian Mapping

Satellite Imagery


Mapping the World in Raster - Kevin Bullock from OpenStreetMap US on Vimeo.

Digital Globe, a private U.S. satellite firm, is making its satellite imagery available to OpenStreetMap for disaster relief mapping. This video describes the technology of the satellites and how the images for its fleet of satellites can be used for humanitarian purposes.


Humanitarian Mapping - Stories, Links and Resources

Humanitarian Mapping
Global Resources News stories

Mapping the Fire Disaster in Valparaiso, Chile

Links for the search term: Humanitarian Mapping

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

InaSAFE
InaSAFE is free software that produces realistic natural hazard impact scenarios for better planning, preparedness and response activities. It provides a simple but rigorous way to combine data from scientists, local governments and communities to provide insights into the likely impacts of future disaster events.

American Red Cross OpenStreetMap Damage Assessment Review Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) Interim Report

The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program of USAID
The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program has collected, analyzed, and disseminated accurate and representative data on population, health, HIV, and nutrition through more than 300 surveys in over 90 countries. - See more at: http://www.dhsprogram.com/#sthash.ISYkixmX.dpuf