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News — 21 March, 2011

Japan earthquake and tsunami

OpenStreetMap used as a basemap for live disaster reports

We've all been too busy for blogging lately, but the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team is of course responding to various world-wide events. There's been quite a few lately : Uprisings in Cairo triggered fresh efforts to improve the map of that city, and now there's an ongoing push to improve the mapping in Libya. OpenStreetMap had a pretty good map of Christchurch, New Zealand, in advance of the earthquake there, thanks to local mappers.

Now we're looking at a death-toll of >8000 after the earthquake and tsunami devastation along the north-eastern coast of Japan.

The '2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami' wiki page has details of the map resources we can offer. All free and open. Contact HOT if you need help using the data. For a quick view of the map coverage (and this goes for any worldwide disaster zone) you can of course simply browse the map. This is updated with new data and contributions from the community every minute.

Want to help improve the map? Check out this new video:

Humanitarian Mapping - Tracing Roads in Japan Using JOSM  

We're coordinating mapping on the wiki. This page gives various pointers for what and where to contribute, but in general we need people to take the initiative and go find a patch to work on. We can try to use the post-disaster imagery to map out areas which are flooded or covered in debris. We can enhance the detail and accuracy of hospitals (replace the imported single nodes with areas, add in the separate buildings, nearby roads etc) But remember that general improvements to map completeness inland from the tsunami destruction, are still important for making the map useful. There are a lot of residential roads in suburban Sendai still to add for example. Also the imported woodland data is very rough and ready. Feel free to delete and redraw it using the imagery. Anything which makes the map more useful.

But the map is already good enough for many uses. It already provides a useful basemap to the japanese ushahidi system (pictured at the top) This disaster information system lets people pinpoint short-term situational reports using OpenStreetMap.