Preventative Mapping in Uganda with the Red Cross

Posted by:
Katrina E.
Date posted:
Aug, 20 2012

HOT has teamed up with the American and Ugandan Red Cross to virtually map the cities of Gulu and Lira. These two cities have expanded rapidly in the last twenty years and currently do not have up-to-date maps. This becomes an issue for the Red Cross because maps are necessary for better community disaster response. In Northern Uganda, mapping resources are unreliable for finding locations when emergency response, such as for a house fire or traffic accident, is required. Updating these city maps is important for many reasons, especially so that response vehicles can identify the quickest routes for fires or accidents.

The Uganda and American Red Cross plan to use HOT’s resources to recruit and coordinate mapping volunteers. In September, they will conduct ground-truthing surveys to fill in the details, like street names and building attributes. Since geographical surveys will be conducted in the field it is imperative that mapping volunteers’ trace points and lines precisely. To volunteer, please visit the Gulu Task and Lira Task pages (you must log in to your OSM account). You can start tracing off of high resolution satellite imagery-- donated by the U.S. State Department’s Humanitarian Information Unit-- on the tasking server. If you are using JOSM, I recommend using “Orthogonalize Shape,”which corrects polygons by creating right angles, under the Tools menu for buildings.


If you have not used the Tasking Manager or JOSM, the recommended OpenStreetMap editor, you can find resources and directions at the Red Cross blog post and in the JOSM Guide and Wiki pages.

This is the first project of its kind with the Red Cross. Yesterday, in celebration of World Humanitarian day, HOT and the American Red Cross welcomed over 20 people to ARC headquarters in Washington DC on a damp Sunday afternoon. Most everyone were newcomers to OSM, but very quick learners on JOSM, and adapted to the specifics of mapping Northern Uganda with the help of the tracing guide for Gulu and Lira, and some tips on rapidly mapping lots of round structures. By the end of the day, 10% of the tasks had been officially completed, with a lot more work done on partially completed tasks. Check out some of the buzz from yesterday

Please join our efforts to map out these two post-conflict cities.