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Humanitarian Mapping

Humanitarian Mapping involves the use of GIS data in order to create, validate, and share maps. Its purpose is to help serve areas that lack mapping, with the goal of helping meet health, education, and humanitarian goals across the world.


Before you start: 

  • Consider which initiatives and geographical location you want to explore. Then search and locate the most appropriate project. 

  • Choose Beginner Projects to start with.  No GIS experience is required.   

  • You and your team will be creating lines and shapes only (not points). 

  • Choose: Maxar Premium - Roads, Buildings only 

  • Line - roads are minor, unclassified 

  • Buildings - are tool, mark as building, square shapes so it is even 

  • Do not worry about making mistakes—your data will be validated by an experienced mapper. 

  • You will get an email in several months confirming that your work has been validated –like the screen screenshot below: 


 Sample Email 



Account Setup: 

You need two accounts to do this: (1) An OpenStreetMap account and then (2) a Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team account (HOT). 

  • First, Create an account at: OpenStreetMap -   

  • Click “Sign up,” and enter your email, username, and password.  

  • You will be asked to confirm this account via email. Log into the email you provided in step one and open the email from OpenStreetMap. Click on the link in the email to confirm your account. 

  • Next, setup a HOT account (or you can use OpenStreetMap credentials, Facebook or Google) 

  • You will use the Tasking Manager to locate your projects.  This is a platform where individuals can team up for mapping in OpenStreetMap. 

  • If you'd like a head start, feel free to check out the beginner's guide  


Suggestions for Participants: 

  • Before you start mapping, make sure you have zoomed out enough on the map to clearly see the area which you plan to map 

  • While mapping, it is imperative to only map items inside the pink square that has been assigned to you 

  • When you finish mapping, be sure to save your edits, classify the objects edited, and then click on “Submit task” 

  • Before you hit “submit task,” do not forget to click on “I would like my edits to be reviewed by somebody else” 

  • Under “My Contributions” you can check how many hours you spent mapping 

  • As you continue to map, you will eventually reach intermediate and advanced level. When this happens, you will be allowed to validate the work of others in addition to mapping your own project 

  • If you are unable to find areas that need mapping, you can adjust your filtering options to “new projects only,” which will allow you to view the variety of unmapped locations.  

  • If you are passionate about a specific area of the world, be sure to take advantage of the map offered in the “Explore Projects” tab. By clicking on any map area, you will find projects that target that specific region 

  • Watch the videos under the “learn” tab to understand how you can map, validate, and learn what it takes to even manage your own project! 


Suggestions for Group Leaders: 

  • Utilize the “Tasking Manager” feature to select the causes of interest for your project 

  • Consider how the project assigned contributes to your course objectives or organizational mission  

  • The Tasking Manager is where you can create a group for mapping together 

  • To keep track of each participant’s progress, you may ask them to submit a report of their contributions under “My Contributions” tab 

  • Before choosing a project, make sure that that it is of beginning difficulty level