Open Global Exposure Database for Multi-Hazard Risk

Posted by:
Mhairi O'Hara
Date posted:
Jun, 7 2017

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team has partnered with the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) and ImageCat on a Challenge Fund focused on developing a global exposure database for multi-hazard risk analysis. The Challenge Fund, formed by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is aimed at building local and global resilience through innovation in order to better identify risk and enable more effective decision-making.


“Developing countries are often the hardest hit by floods, cyclones, droughts, and earthquakes, yet are also the least equipped to understand or address these risks. There are a number of exciting innovations that could help – from crowd-sourced mapping projects that that reveal hazards with unprecedented precision, to self-learning modeling algorithms that can predict a disaster before it strikes. The real challenge, however, is bringing together those who understand these new technologies with at-risk communities on the ground.”

  • - GFDRR


This is the second round of the Challenge Fund, which focuses on three pilot projects that address the recommendations made in the recent GFDRR report ‘Solving the Puzzle: Innovating to Reduce Risk’ - namely, to expand the effort to decrease disaster risk management costs and increase resilience by developing a framework that facilitates a multi-hazard view of risk. Based on this research, efforts are being focused on developing the first set of open and internally consistent data on hazards, exposure, and vulnerability.


Challenge 1, is led by the British Geological Survey (BGS) and focuses on developing a data schema and data for a multi-hazard database. Challenge 2, is led by GEM and focuses on developing a data schema and data for a global exposure database, whom HOT is partner with. Challenger 3, is led by University College of London (UCL) and focuses on developing a data schema and data for a global database of vulnerability functions.




The development of the open global exposure database is still in the early stages, but aims to be capable of storing different assets including, infrastructure, land-use, and socio-economic data. These assets will be relevant for multiple natural hazards, including earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, strong winds, tsunamis and drought. Individual infrastructure features will be populated with OpenStreetMap (OSM) data, as this is considered to have the best global coverage at the building level.



HOT will support GEM with Challenge 2 by proposing a methodology for creating a bottom-up exposure model with the use of OSM, taking into account its data model and the use of associated tools. This includes the remote digitising of geospatial infrastructure footprints with the Tasking Manager through various mapathon workshops, and the ground collection of detailed attribute information using  OpenMapKit (OMK).


This round of the Challenge Fund kicked-off with an inception workshop on the 10th and 11th of April earlier this year in Pavia, Italy, at the headquarters of GEM. The workshop was attended by all leading organisations of the three challenges and their supporting partners, along with members of GFDRR. As the kick-off, the goal was to determine the scope and deliverables of the challenges, such as the IT  infrastructure of the databases, spatial and temporal resolutions, who the target end users are, interoperability with disaster management tools such as InaSAFE,RASOR, and OpenQuake, as well as between the three databases (multi-hazard, exposure and vulnerability).


Following on from this, an OSM mapathon workshop was held last week on the 29 May at the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) in San Jose. The workshop focused on the principles of OSM, associated tools, remote mapping of the city of San Jose with the ID Editor through the Tasking Manager and data collection with OMK.




Unfortunately the field exercise focused on gathering detailed attribute information with OMK was cancelled due to heavy rain in the afternoon as Costa Rica has just started its annual rainy season. The workshop continued with learning how to extract OSM data with the Export Tool, model hazard impact scenarios with InaSAFE and how to initiate a local YouthMappers chapter at the university.


The event was attended by UCR students and staff members, as well as participants from the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, Fundecor, GEM and the Municipality of the city of San Jose. We were also fortunate enough to be given a tour of the structural engineering facilities of the Lanname campus.





Although the three Challenge Funds are being developed somewhat independently, it is crucial to ensure their compatibility. For example, the spatial resolution between the exposure and the hazard must be compatible, as well as the taxonomy employed for the classification of the exposed elements and respective vulnerability functions. In parallel, two other databases are being created to store hazard footprints and vulnerability models. All three databases will be tested with data for the country of Tanzania.