Crowd-Sourced Maps May Help When Disasters Hit

Joel Winston | SciDev.Net | December 8, 2013

Speed read

  • Open Street Map is a crowd-sourced, free, online map of the world inspired by Wikipedia
  • It was used by search and rescue teams during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
  • Over a million people are now contributing to it and it has potential to grow

A free online map of the world that is created by its users is helping developing nations become more resilient to disasters, the Open Source Convention in Portland, United States, heard last month (22-26 July).

Inspired by the crowd-sourcing success of Wikipedia, Open Street Map (OSM) was set up in 2004, in response to the limited online map data for many parts of the world. It is thought that over a million people are now signed up and contributing to OSM's world map.