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Integrating OpenStreetMap data into Caribbean disaster response efforts: GeoCRIS

Shared knowledge and datasets are critical for Caribbean nations to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. HOT is supporting the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the World Bank on integrating OpenStreetMap into a collaborative geospatial data platform to increase knowledge share and use of open geospatial data across CDEMA countries.

The Caribbean region is highly exposed to many hazards including hydro-meteorological, seismic, geological, biological and man-made. Compounded by the imminent threat of global climate change and the region’s inherent vulnerabilities as predominantly Small Island Developing States, this places the region in a rather precarious socio-economic situation. In order to be able to efficiently mainstream disaster risk management into development, knowledge on hazard and risk assessment, easily accessible data and information with a user-friendly presentation, and experience on the use of this information in decision-making is critical.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), with the support of the World Bank, is working to integrate existing datasets and documentation for disaster preparedness and response from across 19 CDEMA member countries in the Caribbean into one shared platform: GeoCRIS.

CDEMA has relied heavily on OpenStreetMap (OSM) data in past disaster responses and it has been supported by organizations, such as UN-OCHA and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team through preparation of mapping products essential for relief and damage assessment operations. OSM data is often the only source of spatial information available in the wake of a disaster as Caribbean governments do not regularly share data. It is within CDEMA’s charter, which all partner states signed, that CDEMA is to act as a “clearinghouse” for all disaster risk management information. To this end, it is essential to establish a two-way exchange of information between OSM and CDEMA.

HOT is supporting CDEMA with integration of OpenStreetMap data into the GeoCRIS platform, sharing resources and documentation on open data for disaster response, as well as providing training and technical support throughout the project.