Missing Maps Project

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A Missing Maps event in October 2015 in London

Missing Maps is a humanitarian mapping initiative between a group of organizations that aim to map parts of the world where communities live that are vulnerable to natural disasters, conflicts, and disease epidemics. Missing Maps was founded in November 2014 by the American Red Cross, British Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT). Over time more organizations have become members of the Missing Maps project, and it is now comprised by around twenty non-profit and academic organizations.

MM Logo white back.png

Website: missingmaps.org

Twitter user@TheMissingMaps   Facebook user TheMissingMaps   Instagram user TheMissingMaps


  1. To map areas where people live at risk of disasters and crises by contributing to OpenStreetMap (OSM) so that individuals, communities and organizations can use the data and maps to better prepare and respond.
  2. To support OpenStreetMap, specifically the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), in developing technologies, skills, workflows, and communities.



People always come before data. All Missing Maps activities aim to take into account the best interests and rights of the community and individuals, before adding data to OSM.

All Missing Maps project activities are guided by the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. Missing Maps follows the HOT code of conduct.


Open under the ODbL license: Respecting the guidelines and best practices of the OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF) and OSM, Missing Maps project member organizations ensure that all non-sensitive data gathered under the Missing Maps project banner will be free, open and available for use.

Open to all tool creators: Any creation of Missing Maps project methodology, tools, software or technology by Missing Maps project member organizations will be open source and enable global volunteer network contribution.

Open to all voices and perspectives: All Missing Maps project activities are designed to be accessible and open for participation for individuals, communities and organizations who want to contribute towards the Missing Maps project objectives.


Whenever possible, Missing Maps project activities are undertaken in collaboration with local individuals, communities, and organizations and in a respectful manner at all times.

Missing Maps project activities aim to build sustainable local capacity, ensuring access to open mapping community tools and technology, and providing access to training for individuals and communities Missing Maps members work with.


The Missing Maps community aims to work together to share, develop, improve and implement mapping and data collection processes.

Missing Maps member organizations aim to support, grow and learn from the global network of digital humanitarian volunteers.


Missing Maps member organizations aim to ensure that quality assurance and control processes are in place for all of their activities. Members are cautious about rapid data collection without significant local participation, and always make efforts to ensure local access.

How does Missing Maps differ from HOT & OSM?

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) is an international team dedicated to humanitarian action and community development through open mapping. Missing Maps is a group of organizations (one of which is HOT) working towards the common goal of creating accessible map data, enabling humanitarian organizations and local communities to use the data to better prepare and respond to disasters.

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a collaborative open data mapping project which makes all of this possible. It has been dubbed “the Wikipedia of maps,” and it can be edited by anyone in the world. OSM core servers are administered by the not-for-profit OpenStreetMap Foundation.

How to get involved as an individual

Entry Level

The areas we need to map often have very little to no existing map data. This means we need to trace satellite imagery or aerial photographs to build a picture of what is there. This could be roads, buildings, residential areas, lakes, rivers, and so on. Tracing these elements can be done from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection and a computer/tablet to map with.

You can, of course, do all of this in your own time, and teach yourself using a self-paced guide like LearnOSM. However, there are also regularly organised Missing Maps events called mapathons that you can come along to and get involved, either in-person or virtually. Most of the time mapathons include a significant training element, and are often designed to train people who have never mapped before. Mapathons are also a great way to make a significant contribution towards the progress of a particular humanitarian mapping project. Look for mapathons to join either on the events section of the Missing Maps website or on OSM Cal.

Experienced Mappers - Validation

The Missing Maps Project needs you!

Once you gain experience adding map features, the next step is to validate the changes made by others. Experienced mappers check the mapping done by others, to limit potential errors, and ensure the data is of a high standard and completeness. The OSM Tasking Manager/Validating data page provides useful information on why validation is necessary, and, general things to look for when validating. When you finish validating a map tile, the Tasking Manager comments tool is useful for explaining to the mappers who worked on that tile what changes you made, if any. This process should increase the knowledge of the mapper, and reduce future errors, thus improving the quality of the data.

Just like the entry level mapping, you can validate at home in your own time, or at regularly organised Missing Maps mapathons. Come and sit on the validator table to develop your skills and learn from other experienced mappers. When validating at mapathons, you can provide real-time feedback to the mappers working on the project.

On the ground - Field Mapping

Once objects like buildings and roads are traced remotely, more detail can be added to the mapped area by local mappers. Field mappers can add detail that is only possible to add by being on the ground, such as whether a building is a hospital or a school, the name of a road or the opening times of a pharmacy. This ensures that the map data is even more relevant and localized (very important for local use, but also for organisations working in the area).

Mapathon supporter

We are also always looking for people who can support new mappers at mapathons. You needn't be an expert to do this, just know enough to get someone started and to troubleshoot simple problems they come up against. Find a mapathon in your neighbourhood or sign up here.


MapSwipe is a mobile phone application developed by MSF and HeiGIT as part of the Missing Maps project. MapSwipers conduct a 'first pass' of an area, by swiping through imagery and quickly identifying where objects like buildings are present. Later on, this means that volunteers tasked with actually adding objects to OpenStreetMap don't need to spend hours scanning jungle, bush and desert, looking for things to map. Instead MapSwipe allows the mappers to immediately focus on the areas where mapping is needed. MapSwipe has a variety of mission types, including the ability to check the quality of mapped objects and to compare before/after imagery.

MapSwipe is relatively easy to learn and you can make meaningful contributions very quickly. The application has an in-built tutorial and there is no need to join a live event or to read through lots of materials in order to learn. To get started, download the app here.


The Global Healthsites Mapping Project is building a global commons of health facility data by making OpenStreetMap useful to the medical community and humanitarian sector. This open data approach invites citizens and organisations to share health facility data and collaborate to establish an accessible global baseline of health facility data.

Help establish accurate health care location data with OpenStreetMap

  1. Create an http://openstreetmap.org account
  2. Sign into http://healthsites.io with your OSM account
  3. Find the health facility that you would like to update
  4. @sharehealthdata Help establish accurate health care location data with OpenStreetMap

Help us solving GIS challenges

Eager to do more than mapping? We listed for you some GIS challenges that Missing Maps organisations encounter. Find our list here and help us with your technical, statistical, programming,... knowledge!

Mapathons and events

Throw your own Missing Maps Mapathon

You can throw your own Missing Maps mapathon and there are pages to help you! Missing Maps mapathons or Missing Maps mapathons: for students and universities

Check out also our website full of hints, and checklists on how to host your own mapathon.

If you are an organization considering Missing Maps as a way to raise funds please note that in order to do this you will need to become a member of Missing Maps. Contact one of the founding members to make an enquiry. Please note that you will need to have a firm organizational need for OpenStreetMap data to match your Missing Maps activities to.

Events you can still come to

Some public Missing Maps events are listed on the events page of the Missing Maps website. If you would like to add the public event you are organising, please fill in this form.

If you are coming to a mapathon for the first time, check out Missing Maps Mapathons - before the event.

Missing Maps London organises a mapathon every first Tuesday of the month. See more on the Missing Maps London page.

Missing Maps member organizations

Missing Maps members as of January 2024

The Missing Maps project is an open collaboration founded by members:

Current members also include:

The project is an open collaboration and is open to other NGOs, educational establishments and civil society groups to become members and contribute to the project objectives. Members meet virtually every two weeks for an hour and have a recurring annual in-person Missing Maps gathering.

Useful Resources, Tools, and Links


Name Description
LearnOSM Easy to understand, step-by-step guides to get started contributing and using OpenStreetMap and its data.
Missing Maps Mapathons A useful Wiki on how to throw a Mapathon; useful resources at the bottom of the page.
OSM tasking Manager/Validating Data An introduction to data validation and some helpful tips for mapping in general.
Research Related Research into OpenStreetMap and its applications from around the world in different languages.
Interpreting Satellite Imagery A useful guide to interpreting satellite imagery for beginners in a MapSwipe context, but also applicable to Mapathons.

Helpful Resources/Tools

Name Description Thumbnail Useful Links
Hosting a Mapathon How to host a mapathon and useful training and event materials links at the bottom of the page. Missing Maps for Students/Uni
OpenStreetmap FAQ Many common questions and answers regarding OpenStreetMap.
During a Mapathon Tools:
HOT Tasking  Manager  OSM Tasking Manager is a mapping tool designed and built for the Humanitarian OSM Team collaborative mapping. The purpose of the tool is to divide up a mapping job into smaller tasks that can be completed rapidly. It shows which areas need to be mapped and which areas need the mapping validated. Task Manager Wiki, Lead developer: Pascal Giraud blog Slide Share Twitter GitHub RESTful API YouTube: Tasking Manager - Technical introduction - June 2015 - Pierre Giraud
Map Compare Map Compare shows you different maps from OpenStreetMap, Google, Bing, Mapquest, Esri, Nokia and others side by side (Useful to visualize the changes to openstreetmap vs. other platforms).
Show Me the Way Displays live edits from OpenStreetMap users all over the world.
Map Features (Tags) A comprehensive list of accepted tags used in OpenStreetMap.
Field tools for MM projects:
OpenDataKit Free and open-source set of tools which helps organisations author field and manage mobile data collection solutions.
OpenMapKit An extension of OpenDataKit that allows users to create professional quality mobile data collection surveys for field data collection.
Field Papers Very useful tool that allows you to make your own multi-page atlas of anywhere in the world, print it, take it to the field, make notes, and then re-upload.
Tagging in OpenStreetMap:
TagInfo Key for proper tags for features in OpenStreetMap.
TagFinder Easy to use tag search engine for OpenStreetMap.
Overpass Turbo Simple querying tool for OpenStreetMap (can query anything to find in the search box). Overpass Turbo Wiki
OpenStreetMap Editors Comprehensive list and specs of OpenStreetMap editing programs.
OpenStreetMap-Based Services Comprehensive list of different projects and examples that use OpenStreetMap data.
Youth Mappers A US based youth initiative to creating resilient communities by mapping them.
OpenStreetMap Stats Statistics tracking the growth of OpenStreetMap`s community and database.
Results from Mapathons Shows OpenStreeMap changesets from last 30 days and is a good way of visualizing progress/results from mapathons.
Summer of Code Google Summer of Code list of projects for OpenStreetMap.


Name Description
Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team A main group driving, identifying, and prioritizing at-risk areas to be mapped.
British Red Cross An introduction to Missing Maps press release and British Red Cross involvement.
American Red Cross An introduction to Missing Maps press release and American Red Cross involvement.
Medecins Sans Frontieres(MSF) MSF involvement in the Missing Maps movement.

Missing Maps in the media

BBC video Concerning Ebola, Red Cross, Openstreetmap

BBC World News with Harry Wood (OSM) and Andrew Braye (Red Cross)


Name Description
Global Effort: Missing Maps Interesting article outlining the missing maps movement.
Missing Maps Project An interview with Dale Kunce; one of the leaders in the Missing Maps movement.
Where are the Maps Missing? An interesting approach to discover where maps are missing in the world.
Haiti A case study on Haiti, and how missing maps has helped.
2015 Missing Maps A few success stories for the Missing Maps project in 2015.
Nepal Earthquake Case study describing the mapping efforts after the Nepal earthquake (48 hours).
Nepal The role of open source and open data in the Nepal earthquake`s humanitarian response.
OSM 2011: A Year of Edits A video showing OpenStreetMap Edits around the world in 2011.
Measles in DRC Using Missing Maps to map the Democratic Republic of Congo in the wake of a measles outbreak.