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News — 20 December, 2023

Mapping the Way to Climate Resilience

HOT’s partnership with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

Addressing climate-related challenges and promoting resilience requires innovative approaches and effective collaborations. One such remarkable partnership has emerged between the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and HOT (Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team). By combining the expertise and resources of both organizations, its aim was to create a more robust and effective approach to addressing climate-related risks and challenges through open mapping. The end goal is to support communities, improve disaster preparedness and response, and enhance climate risk management by integrating open geospatial data and community engagement.

This past year, to promote and showcase the potential of OpenStreetMap (OSM) data in supporting climate resilience, disaster risk reduction, and anticipatory action, the Climate Centre and HOT:

  • Organized science deep dive talks between the organizations.
  • Ran internal OSM mapathons at the Red Cross Climate Centre.
  • Documented potential workflows for climate work that utilize OSM.

A key element and success of this collaboration is the innovative use of OSM not just as a data-providing platform but also as an active data-collection tool. By leveraging OSM’s capabilities as a data collection tool, the partnership gathered valuable insights and localized data on climate-related risks and vulnerabilities, enhancing the effectiveness of climate hazard preparedness and response strategies. This novel use of OSM allows communities to contribute directly to the collection of critical data, fostering a sense of ownership and empowering them to take proactive measures in addressing climate challenges.

On the technical side, the integration of detailed OSM data to identify priority areas for anticipatory mapping enhanced the existing compound risk methodology of the Climate Centre. By incorporating OSM’s detailed geospatial information on infrastructure, population, and natural features, the compound risk assessments gained a new level of granularity and accuracy. This enriched dataset allowed for a more comprehensive analysis of climate hazards and their interactions with existing vulnerability dynamics.

Case Studies

The collaboration between the Climate Centre and HOT has yielded notable success stories in various regions:

  • In Turkey and Syria, OSM was used to fill data gaps and demonstrate data-driven response and recovery after the February 2023 earthquakes.
  • OSM mapping supported the identification of buildings in the Kadori community in the west of Georgia, enabling an exposure analysis of flood and landslide hazards.
  • In Sudan, OSM mapping focused on an informal settlement of vulnerable populations prone to the compounding impacts of conflict and climate hazards. The mapping helped identify homes within flood-prone areas along the banks of the White Nile River.
  • In Liberia, OSM tools were used to assess and collect community knowledge about flood exposure, supporting flood awareness and preparedness.
  • In Timor-Leste, a pilot project was initiated to collect data for developing early action protocols to address climate hazards.

As this collaboration progresses, exciting prospects lie ahead. The ongoing commitment to youth engagement, the exploration of open data packages, and the validation of global hazard models with OSM data present opportunities for continued growth and impact. By harnessing the power of OSM data, engaging Red Cross volunteers worldwide, and fostering collaboration, the partnership between the Climate Centre and HOT is primed to drive change.

For questions or for information on partnering with HOT and/or the Red Cross Climate Centre, contact