How HOT is putting communities on the map

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
Angela Palmer
by Angela Palmer
26 August 2022
The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) is a group of individuals dedicated to putting the world’s most vulnerable communities on the map.

HOT enables communities, NGOs, international organisations, and government partners to use and contribute to OpenStreetMap – a free, editable, map of the world.

Through HOT’s efforts, millions of individuals around the world are being recognised on a map for the first time. This representation means they can more easily receive locally relevant information and resources, including natural disaster updates, access to COVID-19 vaccines, food and water during a drought, and more. HOT was selected as an Audacious Project in 2020 due to its bold vision to engage one million volunteers to map high-risk places in 94 countries.

What if we could map one billion people currently missing from the world’s maps?

The Audacious Project, housed at TED, was brought to life through the collaboration of some of the most respected names in the non-profit world, including Skoll, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Scott Cook & Signe Ostby and more. Virgin Unite is proud to be one of the partners supporting incredible organisations like The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.

HOT estimates that over one billion people currently live somewhere that is not on a map, and when people are left out of maps, they are also left out of access to vital resources. This is especially true in the aftermath of crises when maps are an essential part of relief operations.

On 4 December 2021, the volcano Mount Semeru erupted in the Indonesian island of Java. Perkumpulan OpenStreetMap Indonesia (POI), supported by HOT, led the disaster response mapping, evacuating over 6,000 people at 115 evacuation points. The Indonesian Red Cross was able to use HOT-sourced maps on OpenStreetMap to identify and reach communities most affected by the eruption.

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

HOT has recently implemented initiatives that support frontline healthcare workers in hard-to-reach conflict zones across Kenya and Uganda. The organisation is working to create maps that help identify potential local suppliers, capable of manufacturing the equipment needed to support infection control.

Tirelessly working towards their bold, Audacious vision, HOT has also teamed up with the Geomatics Engineering Society to aid the Chepangs (one of the most marginalised indigenous communities in Nepal).

The Chepangs are traditionally nomadic people who hunt, fish, and gather in Nepal’s forests. Recently they've had restrictive government policies placed on them that threaten their livelihoods. These restrictions have presented a variety of struggles including a lack of access to basic amenities. Through the support of HOT, the Geomatics Engineering Society has generated data and maps that can be shared with humanitarian agencies and local authorities, ensuring that the Chepangs are properly and fairly supported.

HOT is the global leader in community mapping and has supported humanitarian responses in nearly 100 disasters and crises – and with the support of Virgin Unite and The Audacious Project they aren’t slowing down their efforts anytime soon.

Learn more about HOT and other incredible Audacious Projects.