MAPS.ME and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Partner to Crowdsource Data for Humanitarian Response

Dimitry O. Photo
Sep 6, 2017 · 3 min read

MAPS.ME and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) have partnered to create new functionality enabling the crowdsourcing of local data that is critical to humanitarian response. The teams have introduced new capabilities for data editing via the MAPS.ME app. With the help of MAPS.ME, volunteers can collect precise location data and mark useful utilities, such as sources of clean drinking water, public showers, and refugee service providers.

The data collected through the MAPS.ME editor will be instantly available via the OpenStreetMap (OSM) database. When responding to humanitarian emergencies like natural disasters and refugee crises, HOT will be able to immediately source map data in affected locations. Free, up-to-date maps are a critical resource when relief organizations are responding to disasters, as they provide the necessary information for a range of purposes such as identification of affected areas and logistics routes. With the data this partnership will crowdsource, people can easily find the nearest clinic, firefighters will not lose precious seconds in search of a hydrant, and it will be easier for humanitarian organizations and individuals to find sources of clean fresh water.

Over the past six years, HOT has worked with rescue services and humanitarian organizations to provide the map data that’s needed to support humanitarian missions. Many of these organizations have been using MAPS.ME for years, as the maps are free and available offline, enabling teams to navigate in regions where internet access is sparse.

In April 2016 MAPS.ME launched an embedded map editor which has significantly boosted the quality and quantity of data added to OSM. Since the launch, over 1.5 million edits have been made using the MAPS.ME app, by over 160,000 users. This has made the OSM map more precise and up-to-date. A recent update to the editor has made it even more useful for the Humanitarian OSM team.

“We’re proud to be a part of the big OpenStreetMap family. It’s amazing that thousands of people and hundreds of both commercial, non-commercial and non-government organizations around the globe combine their efforts to improve maps day by day. One of our key product strategies is getting feedback from our users. We decided to partner with HOT to better understand humanitarian team’s needs in mobile mapping. Our updates to the MAPS.ME mobile map editor are just the first step in improving the way we help humanitarian teams and engaging more mobile mapping volunteers. It’s so easy to start to contribute when all you need is your smartphone. We believe that map data must be free and open. This is the map of the future,” says Eugene Lisovsky, CEO of MAPS.ME.

“A core component of HOT’s mission is to enable more people in more places to contribute to mapping the world in which they live. The tools provided by MAPS.ME help move us one big step closer to that goal, by making OpenStreetMap editing incredibly simple, and accessible to nearly anyone with a smartphone. When map contributions are made by a more diverse and representative group of mappers in an area, the map better represents the reality of our complex world. We thank the MAPS.ME team for working with HOT and the OSM community toward that goal,” says Tyler Radford, Executive director of HOTOSM.

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