Preparedness & Response


Open Online Maps to support emergency preparedness and response

In time of a crisis, humanitarian organisations are called to locate people on Open Street Map.

At the 4th UNESCO Conference on Technologies for Development, which took place from 2 to 4 May 2016 at the Swiss Tech Convention Center (STCC) of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, open online maps for humanitarian organisations was presented.

To support humanitarian operations, Open Street Map (OSM) (, one of the biggest free open platforms that creates and provides geographic maps (i.e.  road network, river, building) is upgrading its functionalities through three projects:

Humanitarian Open Street Map Team (HOT):

In case of a crisis, such as the Nepal earthquake, Open Street Map volunteers from around the world rapidly digitize satellite imagery to provide detailed and accurate maps (i.e road network, river, buildings, etc.) to support humanitarian organizations deployed to the affected countries. The Humanitarian Open Street Map Team (HOT) coordinates that effort, partnering with relief organizations to focus map editing on the places most in need. In turn, the humanitarian organisations are called to locate people at risk on Open Street Map to facilitate the delivery of goods and services to the areas that need them most.

HOT is the bridge between the Open Street Map community and the humanitarians. This collaboration between Humanitarian Open Street Map Team and humanitarian stakeholders started during Haiti's earthquake in 2010 and is currently active in supporting the post earthquake response in Ecuador.

Missing Maps Project:

Putting 20 million of the world most vulnerable people on the map by 2017 is the objective of Missing Maps Projects. Many of the places where disasters (natural disasters, disease outbreaks, epidemics or conflict) occur are "missing" from any map or uncompleted and first responders therefore lack the information to make valuable decisions regarding relief efforts. The lack of baseline data (buildings, roads, bridges, rivers etc.) of poor, unplanned areas remains a big challenge to emergency preparedness and response.

This open, collaborative project aims at supporting governments, NGOs and individuals to better respond to the needs of the most vulnerable. To complete satellite and aerial images, thousands of volunteers are closely working with the vulnerable communities to finalize the projects, which can be developed, completed and corrected by anyone.

The initiative is founded by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the British Red Cross, the American Red Cross and the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team (HOT).

Mapping health-care facilities in the world: is an initiative to create an online map of health-care facilities throughout the world, where users (mainly the medical community) can easily access and update key information such as location and services (domains of work, staff, bed, contact). is collaborating with Open Street Maps in order to link and exchange the information on both data platforms. grew into a partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Hospital Federation (IHF), Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the Health Care in Danger Project and the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team.

2nd Open Street Maps Summit - 22 September 2016, Brussels, Belgium

The Summit will bring together people from around the world working to make open geographic data available to improve the places they live and work through OpenStreetMap. 

The day long gathering will feature two separate tracks to focus on technology and community building based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that emphasize participation from all sectors of society to meet ambitious targets around the world’s most critical challenges by 2030.

Community builder, development professional, educator, geographer, humanitarian, journalist, philanthropist, programmer, volunteer mapper, or people who want to learn more about open data and OpenStreetMap are invited.

Further information on: