Mapping in Crises
February 20, 2010 1:35 AM   Subscribe

“We are not moving concrete or water but we are delivering situational awareness.” Mobilizing immediately after earthquake, professional (fb) and volunteer emergency mappers (aided by instantly released satellite imagery and the structure of the OpenStreetMap project); came together in impromptu “Crisis Camps” rushed to meet the need for information on missing persons, roads, emergencies calls, existing infrastructure, damage, and now internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps.

Also of note is the emerging field of crisis communications operating at the intersection of disasters and emergency communications, that has integrated social media like twitter into its applications to aid survivors, first responders as well as facilitating emergency group communication tools.

Crisis Commons itself has used Project EPIC’s Tweak the Tweet project which attempts to aggregate and pass on spatially tagged emergency-related information from available food, water, to missing or trapped persons.

Maps! Current OpenStreetMap Haiti Map Files

NOAA Satellite Imagery from Esri

Sahana foundations: mapping client.

Compare Google Maps with OpemStreetMap Tiles.
posted by stratastar (17 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I noticed a week or so ago that openstreetmap was pretty current with Port-au-Prince, so I released a free iPhone app with the city for offline usage. I hope some aid workers find it useful.

Openstreetmap is awesome.
posted by DreamerFi at 2:07 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

That's pretty awesome, DreamerFi. This is a fascinating FPP, thank you stratastar.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:30 AM on February 20, 2010

If you own a GPS device, consider joining the OpenStreetMap project: the crisis you aid next may be your own. From their website:

"Contributors to OpenStreetMap take handheld GPS devices with them on journeys, or go out specially to record GPS tracks. They record street names, village names and other features using notebooks, digital cameras, and voice-recorders.

Back at the computer, contributors upload those GPS logs showing where they travelled, and trace-out the roads on OpenStreetMap's collaborative database. Using their notes, contributors add the street names, information such as the type of road or path, and the connections between roads.

That data is then processed to produce detailed street-level maps, which can be published freely on sites such as Wikipedia, used to create handheld or in-car navigation devices, or printed and copied without restriction."
posted by grimjeer at 7:03 AM on February 20, 2010

Excellent FPP. Maps, crisis response, satellite imagery, GPS: you've tripped every geek breaker in my brain.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:20 AM on February 20, 2010

Just checked my "sales" stats for the iPhone app I mentioned above: about 20 downloads a day, so it is being found. I hope that mentioning it here helps that a bit.
posted by DreamerFi at 7:36 AM on February 20, 2010

This seems very cool and very helpful, and the openstreetmap project is an interesting one. Too bad I don't have a gps to help out with.
posted by sandraregina at 7:40 AM on February 20, 2010

This seems very cool and very helpful, and the openstreetmap project is an interesting one. Too bad I don't have a gps to help out with.

Sandraregina, you don't need a GPS to contribute to OpenstreetMap. I can make edits based on just knowing my city: things like naming the local community college correctly, or outlining parks. You can take walks and note street addresses and businesses, or look for discrepancies on the Tiger map underlay and what exists in real life.

You can also print out maps, take notes on them, and then upload them from a scanner via WalkingPapers. (Full disclosure: migurski lives in my house.)
posted by oneirodynia at 8:10 AM on February 20, 2010

Here's an article on how OSM is being used in Haiti, and blog posts from a friend sent there by the World Bank to help with the mapping on the ground.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:18 AM on February 20, 2010

BTW, the OSM Haiti Strategy and Proposal from the OSM wiki is a good rundown of all the agencies that have come together so far to provide data and how they are planning to use it in the field.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:18 AM on February 20, 2010

You don't need GPS to help and can help with the Haiti work from the comfort of your own desk. That's part of the brilliance of OpenSourceMaps. People have been updating the maps of Port au Prince since the earthquake using satellite images and their updated, detailed maps are now being used on the ground by aid workers.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:23 AM on February 20, 2010

One more thing: a video with interviews on the ground in Haiti. And another blog.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:37 AM on February 20, 2010

Neat additions! Through your links I found a couple extra links:
An awesome all-in-one overlay map with all of OSM's Haiti layers.

and a video of OSM's map additions over time
posted by stratastar at 11:11 AM on February 20, 2010

That video of the map additions is really cool!

Thanks for posting this to MetaFilter. I've been following this through my friend and thought MeFi would love it, but didn't think I should post it. So I'm very glad you did, and that I could toss various links in here.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:38 AM on February 20, 2010

There is an excellent site called Haiti Crisis Map that pulls a lot of this information together.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 1:00 PM on February 20, 2010

I found OSM from potch's Haiti crisiscommons link and, like Emperor SnooKloze, was immediately sucked in.
posted by hattifattener at 2:23 PM on February 20, 2010

Related: has created a site to help locate missing family members / friends. The specific app is tailored for the Haiti catastophe, but could apply to any large-scale emergency situation. Visit the site here.
posted by Ahriman at 3:39 PM on February 20, 2010

DeLorme gave away free maps & aerial imagery of Haiti after the earthquake. It's only useable with their software/handhelds, but still nice for those who can use it (and for people like me who will load it up just to help understand the news reports).
posted by wenestvedt at 6:40 AM on February 22, 2010

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