Category Archives: Geo-Information

Disaster relief for couch potatoes

Last week I was involved in a map-athon for Japan. This was an act of Humanitarian Mapping with Open Street Map. I never had edited OSM before, and I was quite surprised at how easy this was, and how well organised.
The mapping itself is based on changing the existing OSM base map. All damaged items are marked with a special tag, explaining the new situation. At the time of a crisis, the OSM basemap itself needs updating too, since every detail can save lives.
The mapping itself needs a little preparation in terms of registering, but once this is completed you can start right away. Use one of the many map editors available for free. Select an area that you want to work on, download the existing map data and update this based on aerial photography that is included in the OSM editor. This youtube video explains how this works.

A mailing list and twitter account (@hotosm) keeps the volunteers connected.
So..everybody can do this..it’s easy and every contribution is one drop in a giant sea of relief effort.
The difference between the actuality of OSM compared to Google maps is shown in the following comparison. – Note to self: remove link later on..
See also: Humanitarian Open Street Map Team