2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami/Mapping coordination and data sources

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2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami (Main Page) Mapping coordination and data sources Imageries

Want to contribute to the mapping efforts for the 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami? This page gives information on where to map, what to map. For information about imagery sources, see the Imageries page.


Want to help improve our map data for Japan? The first thing to note is that we have Users in Japan who already did a great job of mapping there before the earthquake. Let's hope they're safe.

This page gives information on where to map, what to map. For information about imagery sources, see the Imageries page.

On post disaster mapping

(Message mostly towards Japanese mappers:)

As of Mar. 14, 2011, Many organizations are publishing post-disaster aerial photography of the damaged area.

The Humanitarian_OSM_Team, or HOT, mainly consisting members outside Japan, has made a call for assistance, and it is expected that experienced mappers from the Wiki project Haiti WikiProject_Haiti will join for help.

Therefore, there will be more and more information reflecting the situation after the disaster, and it will placed on top of the base map, which has been developed by Japanese mappers.

See Humanitarian_OSM_Tags and its subpage for tags that shall be used.

From now on, Japanese mappers might encounter information with unfamiliar tags, but don't panic, (even if it may have tags that seem weird).

Such data is very valuable for the people on the ground, and should not be deleted unless it is clearly incorrect.

Mapping Methods

  • How to edit OSM (You can find how to edit OSM)
  • JOSM (This is an editing tool. Please download JOSM here)

Tools to help mapping

  • LiveEditMapViewer (using this tool, you can track on editing status. You may be able to avoid some conflicts with other mappers)

Use QualityStreetMap v2 to mark the tiles that are completely traced or still need to be worked on:

  • Login with your OSM username using oAuth (top right corner)
  • Select a tile (use CTRL to select multiple tiles)
  • add a tag (standard tags are "building" and "highway") to indicate what has been traced already
  • add the tag "fixme" to indicate that the tile still needs tracing
  • use "Tiles validated for *tag*" in the bottom left corner to only display certain tags with green tiles

QualityStreetMap v2 is still in early beta, please report any bugs here.

Information that is desired to be mapped

What to map (pre disaster)

The north-east area of Japan ("To-hoku area") has not been mapped sufficiently. Improving the base map, before adding post disaster information to it, is obviously a very important job. For the base map, parallel to imagery tracing, importing bulk digitized map data is going on. There may be overlaps of such imported digitized data and the manually traced data, but please understand that such overlap is expected to some extent.

That said, the pre-disaster objects that should be mapped are:

Look for roads that are not mapped yet.
Public facilities
Public facilities in the north-east area has been imported from national sources, but just as nodes (dots).
Look for schools and hospitals in OpenStreetMap and if you find facilities that are represented as single nodes, trace imagery to draw buildings. This is not only useful in its own right, but also serves to cross check whether this data is still current. (A small number of schools are known to have relocated premises since the data was collected).
Under emergencies, public facilities play many vital roles such as shelters, water spots, food spots, medical care, and it will be a POI that is sought very frequently by map users. Here are some examples of buildings traced from imagery.
buildings in general
Tracing recognizable buildings from imagery helps improve the base map. Building shapes are hard to obtain from sources other than imagery, so they are less likely to conflict with other resources.

What to map (post disaster)

People on the ground may have other priorities right now, but if you are able to gather data OpenStreetMap offers the most effective way to share map updates quickly with other map users.

We're interested in some temporary disaster updates, however for other immediate situational information (e.g. requests for help, or photos of the situation) you may prefer to log reports at http://www.sinsai.info/ushahidi/. For anything which would update the basemap, edit OpenStreetMap!

Examples of data we're interested in:

  • blocked or destroyed roads . (Tags in use impassable=yes barrier:obstacle_type=debris, but consider using these in combination with a simple barrier=* as this is more widely used by existing OSM data consumers (specifically routing engines, Garmin files).
  • Medical facilities. Many hospitals and other health facilities have been imported as nodes from NPRB of MLIT Japan. Bing Imagery can be used to add detail to these sites (access roads, buildings, possibly hospital sites). Ideally once added these should be checked against the post-tsunami Digital Globe images.
  • Schools. Many schools are designated earthquake shelters (tagged around Sendai as amenity=shelter). Again these have been imported as nodes. In most cases the school grounds are recognizable and can be added together with buildings, sports facilities etc. from Bing imagery (example). Ideally once added these should be checked against the post-tsunami Digital Globe images.
  • Water points and other sanitation facilities
  • public phones amenity=telephone
  • campsites (where displaced people are camping) refugee=yes
  • official emergency escape areas
  • Food supply points and grocery stores (note that open/closed status may be very temporary. Posting updates to ushahidi may be more useful)
  • Flooding areas tsunami:damage=yes
  • destroyed or damaged buildings building=collapsed (note that this is a deliberately incorrect usage of building tag that is supposed to contain original purpose of the building, not its state - see building=*))
  • Nursing Homes. argrath has imported a large number of Nursing Homes as nodes from NRPB of MLIT Japan. Again available imagery can be used to add buildings and access routes.
  • Woodland areas have been imported in curvey blobs over a very large area. Where these outlines are better visible in imagery, please feel free to delete and redraw them. example. This is particularly important in urban areas where other sketching could be happening. Their inaccuracy is causing confusion for new mappers.

Please find a list of specific HOT tags here.

Needed POIs(High priority)

The POIs deemed important are shown below. (This will be updated on demand)

Object Description Proposed tag and value Comment Note
shelters A facility for temporal refuge Map this as a single node that is distinct from other tags (e.g. school, building, etc.) since it is likely to be removed in the future. Record the information source such as source=Miyagi pref. mapping example
A road that can not be used It should be clear that it can not be passed. A way that is tagged impassable=yes Should a node be created on the road and tagged impassable=yes ? (In JA page, from Say-no)
A broken bridge It should be clear that it can not be passed bridge=yes and impassable=yes
A flooded area It should be clear that it can not be passed Water is gone from many areas, so it is probably unnecessary to map this unless it is confirmed that the area is still flooded (In JA page, from higa4 Mar 21) -- Required for purpose of the record (JA page higa4)
Watter supply A temporary supply point amenity=drinking_water tag with temporary=yes also to note that it is temporary
Food spot tag with temporary=yes also to note that it is temporary
Temporary medical care spot A temporary spot for medicare amenity=hospital tag with temporary=yes also to note that it is temporary Is amenity=doctors more appropriate?
Mortuary A temporary site amenity=mortuary temporary=yes Mapping example
crematorium amenity=crematorium
Public or temporary phone A temporary phone amenity=telephone temporary=yes
Toilet Public toilet amenity=toilets If it is temporary, tag with temporary=yes too.
School Often used as shelters amenity=school
Public facility Any form of public buildings. Often used as shelters amenity=public_building Will be rendered when building=yes
Nuclear power plant A nuclear power plant Mapping example

Needed POIs(Middle to Low priority)

Object Description Proposed tag and value Comment Note
Public phone Functioned pretty well even right after the earthquake. A place with a phone amenity=telephone , if temporary, also tag with temporary=yes
A park that has benches
A water spot

Where to map

There may be some useful contributions we can all make from afar, particularly given the availability of post tsunami imagery.

Damaged area grouped by prefectures

  • talk-jp suggest to map the prefectures of (X below indicates intense damage, large number of people being affected, or frequent appearance on media):
Prefecture Damaged area Damaged area Comment Note

Language tools (For non-Japanese speakers)