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Open Cities Latin America and the Caribbean, Dominica

HOT Project



Dominica faces the ongoing threat of extreme storms, impacting lives and the environment. This prompted a collaborative effort to address the lack of comprehensive flood data for resilience planning. Through community-based mapping using mobile phones, the project updated building footprints in OpenStreetMap, providing crucial flood information. The outcome includes 24 maps, 260 added building footprints, and a cultural shift towards open data use. Lessons learned emphasize mobile-friendly mapping and overcoming challenges for future climate resilience projects. Dominica emerges as a pioneer, showcasing adaptability in the face of climate hazards.

Background: Vulnerable Communities on the Nature Isle

The Commonwealth of Dominica is also known as “the Nature Isle” due to its lush forest nestled in rugged terrain. Recent extreme storm events have severely impacted and threatened the inhabitants’ way of life as well as the environment. The scars and impacts of legacy storms, including Hurricane Maria (2017) also still present.

The increase in storms has resulted in a search for more sustainable methods of living and development over the long term. While expertise from international agencies and the national government itself have documented and modeled the physical evidence of past events, research activity has often concentrated around high-impact, high-visibility events. This results in a lack of granularity of detail to allow for household and community resilience planning.

Approach: Supporting Disaster Recovery With Maps - OpenCities Dominica

To fill data gaps on flood risk the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) and local implementing partner Open Solutions for Business worked with mappers from Youth Emergency Action to update building footprints in OpenStreetMap and collect observed historical flood data per building.

The project activities were informed by pre-interviews with key agencies, identifying their needs and shortfalls in information availability and plans for future program developments.

Following HOT training, communities were surveyed to report the damage to each building for each historic flood, as well as other relevant information about the building and local flooding. Community-reported flood extents were compared to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) regional flood modeling risks, the standard in the region.

Using a combination of mobile mapping apps Vespucci and HOT’s pilot version of Field Mapping Tasking Manager, all mapping was community-based and accessible via mobile phones.

The activities focused on three areas the capital city Roseau, the flood-prone community of Coulibistrie and the landslide-susceptible community of Dos D’Ane.

Impact: Supporting the Battle Against Crippling Disasters

The new datasets produced proved to be valuable for hazard analysis, particularly given the island’s recent history with highly destructive storms and Dominica’s own commitment to becoming a more resilient nation. Please see the project IMPACT REPORT for more details.


In total, 24 maps and survey collection forms were created for current and future use in flood resilience planning in Dominica. A total of 260 building footprints were added to OSM, and hundreds of historic flood data, organized by building, was provided to the Dominican government.

A secondary outcome was the development of a mapping culture in the community via remote mapping and aerial mapping. More than 20 government officials were trained in the use of open data, a total overall of 54 trained participants of which 72 % were women, new features mapped: 260 and overall a population of more than 15,230 people impacted by the mapping exercise.

The creation of this culture would foster greater open data use throughout the rest of the island, bolstering data available for future climate hazard preparations, and act as a pilot for similar small island developing states in the Caribbean region.


Looking Ahead: Lessons Learned and a Solid Foundation for Future Work

To make remote mapping more accessible and not rely on high-performance desktop computers, all mapping was done via mobile phones. Mobile app Vespucci was first used to update building footprints in OSM. Then, HOT led a successful pilot of the Field Mapping Tasking Manager to coordinate the mapping of multiple data editors using mobile phones. The application is similar to HOT’s Tasking Manager, but optimized for mobile use in collecting GPS points in person.

Both apps allow for remote mapping, but cloud-free aerial imagery is often a challenge in the Caribbean. Future projects should consider the availability of clear aerial imagery in choosing the applications they use for mapping.

In keeping with the community-led approach, volunteer mappers from the communities received training not just in data collection but also in the analysis of the results to identify risk - highlighting the utility of OSM data as a tool in disaster preparedness. Training sessions, mapathons and field mapping exercises were held, using data collection platforms such as Vespucci and ODK applications.

The project has created a solid foundation with many key stakeholders including local government and agencies as well as aid organizations, many of which are excited about the project, eager to see the same carried out for their communities.


The methodology developed can be duplicated through agencies mandated and interested in vulnerability and risk assessments as well as asset management.

The CREAD Project (Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica) has agreed to work with its partners in formatting the workflows into their tasks for attending to their list of Most Vulnerable Communities affected by Hurricane Maria. Other foreign agencies operating in Dominica, such as IsraAid have shown interest in utilizing the data and methodology in performing assessments for asset mapping of critical infrastructures on the island.



Other publications:

Previous HOT projects in Dominica.