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News — 10 March, 2014

OpenStreetMap on the Ground: Update from Kathmandu

I reported the HOT Community on OpenStreetMap work in Nepal in the beginning of 2013 (click here to see my post). Almost a year has passed since then. In this post, I provide you an update from the field on our accomplishments during this period.

Nepal has made impressive progress in OpenSteetMapping in 2013 and is continuing this progress in 2014. The community is growing; the coverage of the map is expanding; key areas are already densely mapped (see, for example, Kathmandu Valley); data is beginning to inspire innovative uses (Taxi Meter App is an example); and we have started focused work on data quality enhancement (read this related blog). There are good indications that both government and non-government agencies are beginning to take OpenStreetMap work seriously in Nepal.

Since Nepal sits on high earthquake risk zone, our focus has been on mapping schools, health facilities and critical infrastructure. We have mapped over 2200 academic institutions (this includes 99% schools and colleges except few that did not provide access) and nearly 400 health facilities (this includes all major health service providers) in Kathmandu Valley. In addition to mapping those facilities as POIs on the map, we have collected exposure data for these facilities (~7000 individuals buildings) and shared them via OpenStreetMap. This data has already served as a foundation to assess risk associated with those buildings and has initiated national discussion for taking necessary measures to reduce risk. Equally importantly, Nepal has now publicly accessible online map of schools and health facilities for Kathmandu Valley.

We have also created nearly 130,000 building footprints in Kathmandu Valley. This accounts to about 40% buildings in the valley. Among those buildings, we have successfully pilot-tested collecting exposure data for about 8000 buildings in two wards in the valley (see building typology based on that exposure data).

                                Girls in Mapping Party                   OpenStreetMap community building during Software Freedom Day

 In 2013, we gave 28 Sensitization Presentations and 25 Mapping Parties, training over 700 people on OpenStreetMap. Our Mapping Parties were attended largely by digital youth from colleges, universities and other youth groups. Government officials, non-government organizations and development workers also attended some of these Mapping Parties. We also had the pleasure of training humanitarian agencies on OpenStreetMap such as Nepal Red-Cross (read this blog). 

                                                              Sensitizing youth in OpenStreetMap during Open Day Day 2014

 Although we are focused in OpenStreetMap, our work is contributing to open data movement in a solid way here in Nepal. We have been the co-organizer of Nepal’s Open Data Day in 2013 and 2014. All these works have inspired and led to the birth of Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL), a non-profit institution based in Kathmandu.

While foundation has been laid down, there is yet much to be done: develop mapping community, expand the coverage of map from Kathmandu Valley to the rest of the country; enhance the quality of data; build first responders and decision-makers’ capacity to effectively use OpenStreetMap data in times of crisis. We see plenty of opportunities to work with the HOT Community as we did in Typhoon Haiyan. We look forward to working with you all and cross-learn.

About the Author: Nama Budhathoki directs Kathmandu Living Labs. He is working actively to build OpenStreetMap Community, open data eco-system more generally, in Nepal. He can be reached at