Missing Maps Project

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A Missing Maps event in October 2015 in London

Missing Maps is a humanitarian mapping initiative. A collaboration between HOT and various partner agencies.


Website: missingmaps.org

Twitter user@TheMissingMaps
Facebook user TheMissingMaps
Instagram user TheMissingMaps


To map the most vulnerable places in the developing world, in order that international and local NGOs, and individuals can use the maps and data to better respond to crises affecting the areas.

To support OpenStreetMap, and specifically the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), in developing technologies, skills, workflows and communities in order to achieve this.


  • By using OpenStreetMap, ensuring that all data gathered under the project banner will be free, open and available for use under OpenStreetMap’s open license.
  • All activities run ‘in country’, i.e. local mapping and data collection, to be done in collaboration with local people and in a respectful manner at all times.
  • When working locally, people come before the data. Meaning if the goal is to map a city there needs to be a plan in place to ensure access to technology and training for those living in that community to continue mapping afterwards.
  • Members of the Missing Maps project actively contribute to the Missing Maps project objectives, the OpenStreetMap repository and benefitting communities, both local and international.
  • Missing Maps projects emphasize building, and leaving behind, local capacity and access. We are cautious about rapid data collection without significant local participation, and always make efforts to ensure local access.
  • Missing Maps activities are designed to be accessible and open for participation for individuals who want to contribute towards the project objectives.

How does this differ from HOT's disaster response work?

Whereas HOT and others do great work mapping in response to crises occuring all around the world, the Missing Maps initiative maps the places in the world where the most vulnerable people live preemptively. Instead of responding to a natural disaster, conflict or disease epidemic, regions vulnerable to crises are identified and mapped in anticipation of crises, meaning that when one occurs, local people, NGOs and other responders can start using the maps and the data from the word go, saving valuable time and, therefore, lives.

Getting in touch

How to get involved as an individual

Entry Level

The areas we need to map often have no base maps. This means we need to trace aerial photographs to build a picture of what is there. This could be streets, buildings, residential areas, lakes, rivers, and the list goes on. Tracing these elements is very simple to do and can be done from your laptop. Once we have the trace, people who live in the area being mapped go out, often with paper copies of the trace, and label all the features in their own language, meaning that the data on the map will be relevant and local (very important for their own use, but also for organisations working in the area). Then, all those bits of important data, which make the map usable and useful, are added to OpenStreetMap. Again, this is something you can do! With no specialist skills or knowledge, you can help the Missing Maps project add all this information.

You can, of course, do all this at home, but there are also regularly organised Missing Maps mapathons that you can come along to and get involved. These events are an effort to complete big sections of a map in a very short space of time. They are a lot of fun and really help the project move forward. Find a mapathon in your neighbourhood on our website.

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.

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 an app for classifying imagery, developed by MSF as part of the Missing Maps project., The idea is that MapSwipers do the first 'pass' of an area, identifying where buildings and roads are present. This means that mappers don't spend hours scanning jungle, bush and desert, looking for things to map.


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 1 - Create an

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 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.

In London every first Tuesday of the month a mapathon is organised. Find some of there work on the Missing Maps London page.

Events you can still come to

We keep track of all our Missing Maps events on the event page of our website: missingmaps.org/events

If you would like to add the 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 members

The Missing Maps project is an open collaboration founded by Humanitarian OSM Team (HOT), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), American Red Cross and the British Red Cross.

The project is an open collaboration and is seeking other NGOs, educational establishments and civil society groups to become members and contribute to the project objectives.

Useful Resources, Tools, and Links


Name Description
Learn OSM 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.