OpenStreetMap Response to Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda

Large OSM Map, Tacloban Airport
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Nov, 17 2013
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The Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda in Philippines is the worst ever registered. The Humanitarian OpenSteetMap Team (HOT) has activated to provide geographic base data in areas affected by typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan in the Philippines. Currently we are supporting the active OpenStreetMap Philippines community. During the first week of our intervention, more than 1,000 volunteers from 82 countries worked remotely to update OpenStreetMap map. We have activated in conjunction with our partners at the Digital Humanitarian Network(DHN). For more information about what other DHN partners are doing please read their blog post about the activation. We are also working closely with United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the American Red Cross (ARC) to determine if they have mapping needs which we can help fulfill.

Coordinator : Andrew Buck assisted by Maning Sambale and Pierre Béland DHN
Network : Kate Chapman is one of the coordinator of the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN)
Imagery Support : Jean-Guilhem Cailton

Map by Red Cross, showing the path of typhoon Haiyan and remotely traced areas.

The red line shows the path of the super typhoon Hayan and colored areas show where OpenStreetMap volunteers completed the map the first three days of operation. Tacloban City has been the most affected. The up-to-date map has progressed a lot since then. The American Red Cross and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team HOT are coordinating during this crisis to produce detailed maps and up to date, and identify damaged infrastructure.

OSM HDM map, designed to respond to humanitarian interventions, was enriched this week with colorisation of damaged / collapsed buildings. Thus, responders will better visualize the affected areas. The paper maps allow them to write and draw on it and transmit back information for processing. Data can also be exported in various formats. It is updated every hour accesssible to all and free of charge via the Internet. Teams are working to identify the damaged portions of the network and this information is then added to the map. Georeferenced applications for smart phones and GPS map with OpenStreetMap then facilitate progressing on the road network to the affected areas. Geographic data also allows logistics specialists of humanitarian assistance to operate more efficiently in this context destruction of infrastructure.


The first week of the humanitarian response

HOT mobilized OSM contributors November 7, a day before the typhoon Haiyan touches the Leyte Island, to map Tacloban. This preliminary work was essential to then evaluate after the disaster affected infrastructure.



UN IOM Staff, DSWD Operations Center
Tacloban Airport, photo IOM Staff, Flickr CC-By-2.0

Paper Format 1,488×2,176 meter

On November 13, five days after the typhoon struck Tacloban, OpenStreetMap started to receive Post-Disaster satellite imagery from the geospatial companies part of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters. These companies agree to provide freely and rapidly Satellite imagery In support of emergencies, disasters, and humanitarian efforts to UN Agencies and some humanitarian organizations. The first imageries showed Tacloban and surrounding areas after Typhoon Haiyan. They helped determine collapsed buildings and roads damaged. You can see an example on this site. Our imagery experts are working to transfert these imageries to servers as they arrive.

Developers have been busy all week to adapt our tools to the needs of the teams on the field. Now, tools such as FieldPapers , MapOSMatic and Osmose are integrating the humanitarian HOT style and thus show the buildings damaged or destroyed. A better quality control is possible. We have produced in coordination with the Red Cross detailed maps that help identify infrastructure at risk and severely affected areas. Useful maps were sent to teams on the ground and our map is prominently displayed on a wall of the Tacloban airport. We continue our efforts to help the affected population due to this humanitarian disaster.

CrowdMapping : Remote Volunteers from 82 countries

They are then used by the remote mappers around the world to revise the map with this up-to-date imagery. With the extent of damages and the dispersion of the population on a multitude of islands, space management and mapping are essential for a rapid and coordinated humanitarian response. That is why our teams are working day and night since the disaster, alternating from one continent to another. These volunteers work collaboratively from the internet.

On Friday, Nov. 15, after just one week, more than 800 volunteers had contributed to OpenStreetMap updating over 2 millions of changes on the map in response to Typhoon Haiyan. More than 250,000 buildings were drawn. Saturday, many Mapathon were organized, and we learn that more then 1,000 volunteers from 82 countries had contributed over 2,2 millions of changes. Impressive effort! This is what we call in Crisis Mapping, a Crowdsourcing effort. Thanks to all.

Task Manager to coordinate CrowdMapping

Our Task Manager, accessible via the Internet, has contributed to this success. This coordinating tool has allowed at certain hours more then 100 contributors to work simultaneously from internet around the world. Team coordination is also ensured through wiki coordination page for the Typhon Haiyan / Yolanda and other means described on the coordination page.


So far, OpenStreetmap contribution to this crisis has clearly shown how technical volunteers working at a distance can make a difference, contribute to a rapid identification of problems on the field and respond quickly to the needs of affected populations. We were able to map rapidly while adapting our tools for a better response to field teams needs. The new humanitarian style identifies damaged buildings, it is integrated into the various products used in the field such as FieldPapers and MapOSMatic. Now that new communication technologies facilitate data collection on the ground, some consideration should be given for field teams to send back this information to volunteered remote teams for processing. We will continue improving the various products used in the workflow in such humanitarian crises. Coordination is essential and we want to continue to improving it. OSM local communities can play an important role in these crises, we will continue our efforts to strengthen the communities in countries like the Philippines with high environmental risk.

Administrative data defining territories and aerial imager Before / After the disaster are essential elements for the success of such operations Mapping actions. These data must be available quickly and for free.

Licensing issues data often limit the ability of fast and efficient collaboration of technical staff volunteers who offer free map. Unlike commercial products such as Google, our database are free and accessible to all. As the governments of various countries provide access to their data with compatible ODbL free licenses, we can support more quickly and effectively to such humanitarian actions.

Here are OpenStreetMap ressources useful for this humanitarian response

Online Map

  • OpenStreetMap with the humanitarian layer Style adapted for humanitarian actions. Damaged buildings (orange), Collapsed building (red). Various websites let publish an online map adding to it the OSM humanitarian style

Printed Maps

  • Field Papers Select an area and print. Then choose either OpenStreetMap base or OpenStreetMap + humanitarian style. This can be used for data collection in the field.
  • MapOSMatic on HotOSM Server Select an area and print city map + street index. Then choose either OpenStreetMap base or OpenStreetMap + humanitarian style.