In a nutshell

Location Mexico, Guatemala, Caribbean
Sustainable Development Goal Sustainable Cities and Communities

Project timeline 

"Project is 90.3153153153% completed "

The Challenge

The densely populated region of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is vulnerable to volatile weather conditions and natural hazards such as hurricanes, tropical cyclones, landslides and earthquakes. Combined with the effects of climate change, this puts a huge number of lives and livelihoods in the region at risk. In the two decades to 2017, five of the world’s 10 countries most devastated by natural hazards were in LAC.

To respond optimally to the risks, government leaders and local communities must understand risk dynamics on the ground. This requires up-to-date information not only about local populations, but also about critical infrastructure and the built environment. In LAC such information is often lacking or inaccessible because it’s stored on closed platforms or in government agency “silos”.

Regional efforts to crowdsource geospatial information through open data platforms have had some success, but challenges such as coverage gaps, poor data quality and a lack of on-the-ground data validation remain.

The Approach

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) supports the creation of open map data for international development and crisis response. In this project, HOT will collaborate with the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) to implement a low-cost, open-source approach to gathering geospatial data about features that can be used to guide disaster risk management and response in LAC, such as roads, building footprints and civic services. In terms of sustainability and impact, the partners will directly engage community members and will support the growth of local organisations and individuals that can champion mapping work when the project is complete.

In each of the targeted locations, the project will proceed in two phases:

Phase 1. Identification of natural hazard and climate risk reduction challenges will determine the geographical scope of data collection. Local implementation teams will then focus on recruitment and training of local mappers who will facilitate initial desktop mapping of each location using high-resolution satellite imagery as well as input from the open-mapping community.

Phase 2. With this groundwork laid, field-based mapping and community engagement can begin. Teams on the ground will both validate the data collected through remote mapping and collect more detailed data. They will then use this information to develop data products such as maps, atlases, web maps and/or online data catalogues to inform local disaster risk management and response.

Goals and Expected Impact

This project will strengthen the capacities of the targeted communities to create, compile and use open-source geospatial data for disaster risk management. In particular, it will build a base of high-quality, up-to-date, accessible risk information that can help local governments and humanitarian organisations make informed decisions and help technologists build applications for the public good. In partnership with local universities, NGOs and technical firms, it will also teach hundreds of young people across LAC how to use open-source geospatial tools and mobile data collection methods.


The copyright for all images displayed lies with Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

Our partner

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team is a US registered non-profit consisting of an international network of professional and volunteer mappers who support international development programmes and crisis response efforts through the creation of open map data. Managed by the World Bank, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) is a global partnership that helps developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change.

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