2015 Nepal earthquake

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From April 25 to June 8 2015, a significant crowdsourcing effort of the OSM community with more than 7,500 contributors from around the world supported the logistic of the Nepal government, UN Agencies and International organizations responding the Nepal Earthquake human relief.

Thanks to the various organizations that supported us, including the Aerial imagery providers, the Mapathon organizers and other Digital Humanitarian Organzations that worked closely with us to monitor the situation.

This Activation is now closed.

General Information
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The 2015 Nepal earthquake struck Nepal on 25th April with a magnitude of 7.8, followed by aftershocks including a large magnitude 7.3 quake on 12 May. The initial earthquake struck with an epicentre in the mountains to the northwest of Kathmandu, and aftershocks around the city of Kathmandu. The later 7.3 earthquake struck to the northeast of Kathmandu towards Mount Everest and affecting regions in Southern China. The quakes killed at least 8000 people, and left many in desperate need of shelter, medical help, food and other aid.

What We Do
When there is a humanitarian crisis, such as the Nepal earthquake, OpenStreetMap (OSM) volunteers from around the world rapidly digitize satellite imagery to provide maps and data to support humanitarian organizations deployed to the affected countries.
The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) coordinates that effort, partnering with relief organizations to focus map editing on the places most in need. HOT provides detailed and accurate maps (i.e., the road network, villages, buildings, etc.) very quickly, so humanitarians can locate people at risk and deliver goods and services to the areas that need them most. HOT is the bridge between the OSM community and the humanitarians.
OpenStreetMap servers, editors and geodata tools enable HOT to offer these free map and export services to the humanitarian community. The OSM community support for these efforts also is impressive, mobilizing thousands of volunteers to make edits to the map.

Who Can Use Our Maps?
Anyone can use OpenStreetMap's online maps and routing services for free. There are even maps that can be downloaded to smartphones, for free.

How To Get Involved

  • The HOT Tasking Manager coordinates emergency mapping by volunteers. This is the first stop for emergency mappers. If you are a beginner and want to contribute, we suggest that you visit the Tasking Manager Tutorial at LearnOSM.
  • The HOT email list provides communication with the contributors. All HOT mappers are encouraged to join this list.
  • The Live #hot HOT IRC Channel provides discussions with the Support Team. To join, create a nickname and type at the bottom of the screen to talk to others.


  • Pierre Béland from abroad (GMT-4)
  • Nama Raj Budhathoki and Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL) colleagues (GMT+5:45)
  • + Other HOT Activation WG Volunteers
    Email contact :activation@hotosm.org
  • OSM partners with governmental organizations, DHNetwork partners, UN agencies, international humanitarian organizations and providers of satellite imagery.

Emergencies such as this put a tremendous strain on OpenStreetMap's resources, particularly our servers and software. Your donations help keep OSM's systems operating in top form.

Donate to the OpenStreetMap Foundation

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team also need your donations, to help funding humanitarian mapping projects and development/maintenance of systems such as the Tasking Manager.

Donate to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

Map from USGS showing epicentre and aftershock locations on an OpenStreetMap (mapquest) base map
OSM Contributors at Kathmandu Living Labs operational one day after the earthquake. They support the government and international organizations from Kathmandu while the global OSM community rapidly improve the map from afar

The Response

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Coordination volunteers and the Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL) Volunteers conjointly assured identification of mapping needs and interfaced with the various humanitarian organizations that responded to the Nepal population needs in Kathmandu and the remote villages in the mountains. KLL also interfaced with the Nepal government and provided various services to the teams arriving in Kathmandu.

Roads and buildings were rapidly mapped with the remote support of the OpenStreetMap community from around the world. From post-disaster imagery, Spontaneous camps were located in Kathmandu. Potential helicopter landing areas in the mountains were also identified. The various mapping services offered are described below.

Map and Data Services

About OpenStreetMap

OpenStreetMap offers an online map and spatial database that is updated by the minute. Various online maps are based on OpenStreetMap, including Navigation tools such as OSRM. Tools and services allow data extracts for GIS specialists, routable data for Garmin GPS, GPS navigation with smartphones and other device-compatible downloads. With an Internet connection, regular syncing is possible, because there is open access to the community-contributed data as it comes in. Also bulk with downloads of OpenStreetMap data are ideal for use offline. In addition, maps can be printed to paper, if needed.

Browse the Activation Area to get a feel for the data that is currently available. Different map styles, including a special Humanitarian style, can be selected on the right side of the screen. Though some data may not render (appear) on the online map, it can be exported from the underlying database for other uses requiring more detail (See export section below).

Paper Maps

Large poster-size maps and letter-size paper atlases of custom areas can be printed:

Exporting OpenStreetMap data

Frequent updates

There is more than one source for the same file format. This should assure a constant access to data if any problems arise from one host.

OSMAnd on Android, Offline Maps & Navigation
Use on your phone or tablet (no network connection required).
OpenStreetMap Exports OSM Format ShapeFiles for GIS softwares Offline Navigation on Small Devices
Daily updates, Central Nepal (osm contributor) .pbf Shapefile(Esri)
13 Thematic Layers
OSMAnd obf(~20Mb)
GPS Garmin IMG
30 minutes updates by geofabrik
see download directory
.pbf Shapefile(Esri) GPS Garmin IMG
Hourly updates milovanderlinden .pbf OSMAnd obf(~22Mb)
30 minutes update
Thematic layers (roads, IDP camps, land use, amenities, place names)
GFDRR Innovation Lab from geofabrik
.pbf Shapefile(Esri)
Updated every few days by kleineisel.de
routable, contains height contour lines (from SRTM data), the map design is similar to topo maps.
GPS Garmin IMG
Updated every two hours Mail Garmin, Android, Garmin-Basecamp, QLandkarte

Information about the various OSM export formats

OpenStreetMap Response

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Ongoing updates about this activation are posted on the HOT mailing list

Coordination and discussion may also happen on HOT's IRC Channel (direct link) or Mumble Server

The general Nepal remote mapping guide may be useful for help with identifying Nepalese features

How You Can Contribute

Edit the Map

  • You can contribute from the Internet by tracing buildings, roads, waterways, etc. To react rapidly to support humanitarians deploying, we need a lot of contributors for remote editing. Visit LearnOSM.org to get started. See the specific LearnOSM Task Manager tutorial. The best way to learn is to participate to Mapathons where experience contributors of your community will show you the basics of editing.
  • More experienced OSM contributors are invited to read the guidelines on Tagging Roads in Nepal and to revise the classification of roads. You also can assure the quality of the mapping by validating the Task manager tasks or using the various OSM Quality control tools.
  • Humanitarian field teams and knowledgeable local people also are essential. You can complete the map by adding the names of roads or various infrastructure items. You even can edit the map using small mobile devices. In addition, applications are available for online or offline mapping.
  • Add a Note or report an Error using the Notes feature on the Online Map. OSM contributors will edit the map from your comments.

Task Manager projects

The following projects have been set-up on the OSM Tasking Manager. The complete list of HOT projects for this 2015 Nepal event are all listed (alongside others) on http://tasks.hotosm.org/ :

Nepal Task Manager projects (Last checked 2015-08-31)
  Job No.      Location What to map Imagery expiration Task Mapping Status Task Validation Status
#1018 (priority) Surrounding the greater areas outside Kathmandu 2nd pass for detailed mapping N/A In Progress (94%) In Progress (89%)
#1043 (priority) Solukhumbu ( Additional affected district ) Detailed mapping N/A In Progress (95%) In Progress (63%)
#1048 (priority) Tanahu ( Additional effected district ) Detailed mapping N/A Completed In Progress (18%)
High priority
#1070 (priority) Kaligandaki Landslide - Myagdi (High Alert District) Detailed mapping N/A In Progress (23%) In Progress (10%)
#1071 (priority) Kaligandaki Landslide - Baglung (High Alert District) Detailed mapping N/A In Progress (12%) In Progress (1%)
#1072 (priority) Kaligandaki Landslide - Parbat (High Alert District) Detailed mapping N/A In Progress (27%) In Progress (1%)
#1073 (priority) Kaligandaki Landslide - Parbat (High Alert District) Detailed mapping N/A In Progress (27%) In Progress (4%)
#1010 Banepa IDP Camps N/A Completed In Progress (0%)
#1044 Experienced mappers Trisuli Valley IDP camps and damaged areas. N/A Completed In Progress (7%)
#1046 Experienced mappers Kadichaur IDP camps and damaged areas. N/A In Progress (40%) In Progress (3%)
#190 (priority) Kathmandu Valley, includes more imagery buildings only N/A Archived
#994 North of Kathmandu and remote mountain areas roads only N/A Archived
#995 East of Kathmandu and remote mountain areas roads only N/A Archived
#1001 West of Kathmandu and remote mountain areas roads only N/A Archived
#1002 North West of Kathmandu - Manaslu Conservation Area roads, villages, buildings N/A Archived
#1003 North of Dunche, includes more imagery detailed map N/A Archived
#1004 South West of Kathmandu roads N/A Archived
#1006 North of Narayangadh and east of Pokhara Residential areas and buildings N/A Archived
#1008 Kathmandu IDP Camps N/A Archived
#1009 Gorkha Residential areas and buildings N/A Archived
#1014 Sindhupalchowk heavily affected area, detailed mapping needed N/A Archived
#1015 Dhunche Rasuwa heavily affected area, detailed mapping needed N/A Completed Completed
#1016 Langtang Rasuwa heavily affected area, detailed mapping needed N/A Completed Completed
#1023 Experienced mappers Northern Dhanding Identifying helicopter landing sites N/A Archived
#1024 Experienced mappers Gorkha IDP camps and damaged areas. N/A Archived
#1025 Experienced mappers Bidur IDP camps and damaged areas. N/A Archived
#1026 Experienced mappers Sindhupalchowk Identifying helicopter landing sites N/A Archived
#1030 Experienced mappers Outside Kathmandu IDP camps and damaged areas. N/A Archived
#1033 Experienced mappers Langtang IDP camps and damaged areas. N/A Archived
#1047 (priority) Palpa ( Additional effected district ) Detailed mapping N/A Archived
#1058 Experienced mappers Kalyanpur IDP camps and damaged areas. N/A Archived
#1059 Experienced mappers Langtang NE IDP camps and damaged areas. N/A Archived
#1060 Experienced mappers Gorkha north IDP camps and damaged areas. N/A Archived

Overview of tasks and imagery coverage on uMap

Summary statistics of all tasks can be found on the Nepal Mapping Progress Dashboard

General map improvements

As well as small square shaped contributions, we can look to make more wide ranging improvements. Reviewing/improving the overall map data consistency is very useful, but that is also most prone to edit conflicts so please save often and understand in the busy time like this you might encounter edit conflicts.

Any local knowledge like infrastructure, buildings or road names that you know and can positively identify, are extremely helpful to responding organizations.

Mapping roads is a high priority, the Nepal roads page for proposed road conventions or guidelines for road categorization is a good reference.

OpenStreetMap is a editable map, so we can improve it if there's anything missing/wrong (Beginners' guide). This is particularly useful if you have any local knowledge or you can survey things on-the-ground (names of streets etc.).

People who have local knowledge but do not know how to edit OpenStreetMap are still vital to our aid efforts. You can share your local knowledge with the OpenStreetMap "Notes" feature. This lets you drop a marker and attach a note with information about the location/building/road that an experienced OSM mapper will then put in the OSM database. For simple instructions on how to share your knowledge with our mappers please see this quick guide to using notes:

How to easily share local knowledge with OSM Notes

Imagery and Reference Maps

Pleiades, Airbus Defense & Space

2014-04-27 Pleiades 2014-11-29 and 2015-04-27 have been used for post-disaster IDP camps identification in Kathmandu.

Imagery Requests

Fresh and archive satellite imagery is being requested through international activations charter and imagery providers. HOT has identified areas that need high resolution imagery for both base mapping and damage assessment. Areas requested are highlighted in bright blue on this map:


Imagery hosted by Google Crisis Response

DigitalGlobe, Airbus D&S and Skybox imagery prepared, tiled, and hosted by the Google Crisis Response team, and shown on Google CrisisMap is allowed to be traced in OSM. See Nepal imagery hosted by Google Crisis Response for a list of images and corresponding URLs.


Bing imagery coverage as of 2015-04-25 with TM #994 and #995 overlay. (coverage source TMS: https://ant.dev.openstreetmap.org/bingimageanalyzer/tile.php/{z}/{x}/{y}.png)


"DigitalGlobe opens access to #Nepal satellite data. http://services.digitalglobe.com UN: nepal PW: forcrisis​"

Indian Space Research Organization

Cartosat-2 post-earthquake for Kathmandu imagery as of 2015-04-27.


For some of TM #1001 the Bing imagery may be cloudy or unavailable, MapBox has coverage, but not at all zoom levels.


http://nepal-quake.colife.org.tw/ Still pending license clarification

ESA Sentinel-1A

https://www.asf.alaska.edu/sentinel/nepal-data-feeds/ (License seems compatible)

Public domain topo maps

There are two sets of public domain topographic maps available which cover large portions of Nepal. Both sets are 1:250,000 scale, which means they are only really useful for adding place names, of which the maps list thousands. Before we manually copy in place names from these maps we will manually merge in the GNS place names for the area, which will cut down on some of the work. After that is done, we will create task manager jobs to go through and systematically enter all of the place names on these topographic maps.

Layer JOSM TMS Url View
US Army Map Service (AMS) tms[15]:http://mapwarper.net/layers/tile/345/{zoom}/{x}/{y}.png View online

Other Data

Other Resources

Nepal Earthquakes Reporting Site (Kathmandu Living Labs Ushahidi)

Disaster OpenRouteService for Nepal including POI, damaged buildings etc. (GIScience HD)

EMSC (European Mediterranean Seismological Centre) provides real time earthquake information

Write-ups and in the News

Documented Usage

Map Visualizations

  • Reach Initiative Kathmandu Reference Maps: [1]
  • American Red Cross Map Library: [2]
  • MapAction Reference and Orientation Maps: [3]
  • ReliefWeb/PDC: [4]
  • Nepal Earthquake Map - April 25, 2015/Overview: [5]

Online Maps

Routing tools

Disaster OpenRouteService for Nepal including POI, damaged buildings etc. (GIScience HD) http://www.openrouteservice.org/disaster-nepal (more info: http://giscienceblog.uni-hd.de/2015/04/28/disaster-openrouteservice-for-nepal/ )