CSU Humanitarian Mapathon

Hosted by OSM Colorado

Public group

This is a past event

17 people went


Volunteers from Colorado State University student body, faculty and the public will map buildings and roads in around Dar es Salaam, Tanzania …from the comfort of the Ramskeller. Dar es Salaam has experienced a rash of deadly flash floods in recent months, and the map data generated by this event will be used to develop an early warning system to alert residents of future flooding. This is part of a long term consortium Disaster Risk Reduction program with the World Bank, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), Ardhi University, Tanzania Red Cross Society, Danish Red Cross, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, University of Dar es Salaam, and Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH).

The process of mapping in OpenStreetMap is easy, interesting, a good way to connect with other humanitarians, and a great way to help the most vulnerable populations on Earth. Participants will add roads and buildings into OpenStreetMap using satellite imagery procured by the US State Department from Westminster-based DigitalGlobe. No experience is necessary to participate in the mapathon.


• Laptop computer (Linux, Mac or Windows)

Directions and Parking:

• From South Shields St (major North-South Street in Fort Collins)

• Take West Pitkin St toward the east (only direction one can go on Pitkin from Shields)

• Turn left on Meridian Ave

• Turn Right on South Dr

• South Dr dead ends into parking lot. Parking is free after 4:00 pm

• Other routes into campus may be blocked by construction.


Q: What software will we be using?

A: You can make edits using any OpenStreetMap editor. We will provide instructions for the iD Editor (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/ID), and there will probably be several mappers in attendance who using the the more advanced JOSM Editor (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/JOSM).

Q: What should I do to prepare?

A: No preparation is necessary, however, if you don't have an OpenStreetMap account you can create one ahead of time here (https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/new). Learning resources are available at learnosm.org (http://learnosm.org/en/beginner/introduction/). However, none of this is required ahead of time.

Q: What if I don't have a laptop computer?

A: If you are a CSU student, laptops are available for check out. Unfortunately, at this event we don't have laptops available for the general public to use. We are considering holding a future event in a computer lab so this isn't an issue.

Q: My laptop computer is very old, will it run the editing software?

A: Most likely yes. The editing software runs inside a browser. As long as you have a modern internet browser installed, such as Chrome, IE, Safari, Firefox, everything should work. If you want to test it ahead of time, the instructions for the event are here (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Td1N-CvbShYeqO7Gi5u_x3C0OYQMLS21xtZ9QAPkjGU/edit?usp=sharing).

Q: Do I have to bring anything other than a laptop computer?

A: Nothing else is required. Some people do find that an external mouse is helpful when mapping, but that is a personal preference.

Q: What can I expect?

A: Mapathons are very laid back affairs. A "quick start" guide will be provided and experienced folks will be on hand to answer questions. Then it is just folks sitting around mapping from imagery and socializing and perhaps enjoying a beverage. Some of that socializing will probably be about the mapping ("how do I...?" or "how would you map this?"), but most will probably not be. I will tabulate the results after and send out to the participants.

Q: Does participation in a humanitarian mapathon count toward my GISP?

A: I corresponded with the GISCI and they indicated it does. I don't have other details as to what category it may be listed under. Be sure I have your contact info and make me aware that you need documentation for the GISP.

Q: I can't make it exactly at 5:00 pm, can I come late?

A: Absolutely! Arrive at any time and leave at any time (between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm). These are very laid back informal events.

Q: I am a long ways from Fort Collins (or otherwise cannot attend in person), can I participate remotely?

A: Yes, it won't be nearly as much fun as hanging out in person with 30+ other map geeks, but you can participate remotely. The instruction sheet is here (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Td1N-CvbShYeqO7Gi5u_x3C0OYQMLS21xtZ9QAPkjGU/edit?usp=sharing).