[HOT] Why use OpenStreetMap and not other maps in disaster situations?

Nicholas Doiron nickd at codeforamerica.org
Thu Apr 24 12:57:13 UTC 2014


A lot of the post-disaster data comes from volunteers tracing or from data
donated by universities + NGOs or from satellite photos given to the
humanitarian effort. For many of these sources, it would be strange to do
free work and give free data to a company like Google or Microsoft,
especially when we don't know whether everyone can share and use that data.
They want to know that their work will be used and improved in a free
community. We also have tools ready for people to help from Day 0.

Two weaknesses of OSM:
- OSM rejects data from non free sources. In the Pakistan flooding response
we could not include village names from GeoNames or Google Maps. You could
make a special new disaster map mixing all data with no license, but then
it can't be officially used. At some point lawyers will get involved and
the map would be deleted.  I think someone should try this, though.

- OSM is 100% public. For a response to a violent event, people will be
afraid to share data. I talked to an organizer for a Somali NGO who says it
sounds dangerous to map their neighborhood online. I think in these crises
you leave OSM alone and use Ushahidi.

Nick Doiron
On Apr 24, 2014 4:23 AM, "Sazal Sthapit" <sazalsthapit at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi,
>
> I am Sazal Sthapit from Kathmandu Living Labs. I am an active member of
> OSM-Nepal community.
>
> Last week, we had a discussion with few people from Nepal’s Disaster
> Community. We were asked one specific question, “Why should we choose
> OpenStreetMap over any other maps in disaster situations?”
>
> While I do have some idea to answer this question in bits and pieces, I
> was wondering if we could come up with specific advantages and
> disadvantages of using OpenStreetMap over other maps.
>
> Sazal
>
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