United Nations International Expert Meeting on Crowdsource Mapping for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response

main image

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)

With the Support of: Government of Austria and Secure World Foundation

Mon, 3 Dec - Wed, 5 Dec 2012

Download the report



United Nations International Expert Meeting on Crowdsource Mapping for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response


In recent years, technological advancements have made it possible for Volunteer and Technical Communities (V&TCs) i.e. OpenStreetMap, Ushahidi, Sahana, CrisisMappers, Virtual Disaster Viewer, Google MapMaker, INSTEDD and others to provide increasing support to disaster risk management and emergency response efforts. Important cornerstones of this virtual effort are the possibility to access and take advantage of satellite imagery as well as the use of other space-based technologies such as telecommunications satellites and global navigation satellite systems.

The United Nations recognizes the importance of such new methodologies for disaster risk management and emergency response. This is demonstrated in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ involvement in requesting the establishment of a crisis mapping platform in Libya and in the support the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs provided to the 2011 Harvard Humanitarian Initiative Report, “Disaster Relief 2.0: The Future of Information Sharing in Humanitarian Emergencies.” Taking note of the need to connect these pioneering communities with the space industry as well as the disaster management community the UN-SPIDER Programme is carrying out a number of activities with the view to identifying and organising specific actions that could ensure a closer cooperation among the three communities (crowdsource mapping, disaster management and space technology communities). The UN-SPIDER Programme is ideally positioned to conduct this project given its mandate and its role within the United Nations which is to promote the use of space-based information; its established networks bringing together national institutions responsible for disaster management and emergency response, as well as other end users, and space solution experts; and its technical foundation, particularly in the area of information technologies.

Crowdsource mapping is by nature an interdisciplinary field bridging many areas of expertise, including the need to access and use space-based technologies. In order to understand how such technologies can contribute to the work of the V&TCs there is a need to better define how the many fields come together to support crowdsource mapping activities, and more specifically the common questions being asked by all those getting involved. Bringing together the three communities to brief about their fields of expertise provides an opportunity to understand better the questions being asked and how space-based technologies could contribute to solving them.

To help building a tighter cooperation and further understanding among all three communities UN-SPIDER organised the above meeting which is the third one since it began its “Space-based information for Crowdsource Mapping” project in 2011. It built upon the recommendations and conclusions of the previous two meetings. These recommendations and conclusions are contained in the project report.

The Meeting Report will be made available upon release. A short report on the event is already available on the Knowledge Portal. A report written by participants of the Austrian Red Cross is available on their blog (in German). Discussions also took place online via Twitter using the hashtag #uncem12.


This Expert Meeting brought together leading experts representing crowd-sourcing communities, space agencies, disaster management and civil protection agencies, NGOs, private companies, and regional and international organizations. 

Financial Support

A number of selected experts were offered financial support to attend this expert meeting. The support defrayed the cost of travel (round-trip ticket – most economic fare – between the airport of international departure in their country of residence and Vienna) and/or room and board expenses during the duration of the event. Priority wasgiven to experts from developing countries nominated by their institutions.

Point of Contact

For more information regarding this event or UN-SPIDER's engagement in Crowdsource Mapping, please contact Mr. Markus Woltran: E-mail: Markus.Woltran [at] unoosa.org Telephone: (+43) (1) 26060 4472

Programme and report
Programme Download
Report Download
Introductory Presentations
1. COPUOS and the Global Development Agenda - Niklas Hedman (OOSA) Download
2. Hurricane Sandy & the Crowdsourcing Community - Heather Leson (Ushahidi) Download
3. Data Policy Disasters - Natassa Antoniou (Secure World Foundation) Download
Day 2 presentations
1. Connecting grassroots to government for disaster management - Lea Shanley (Wilson Center) Download
2. Crowdsource Mapping Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake - Kunihiro Ishii (Kokusai Kogyo) Download
3. NOMAD - Sandra Sudhoff (CartONG) Download
4. National emergency response GIS team Jamaica - Nadine Brown (Planning Institute of Jamaica) Download
5. Crowdsource Mapping and the ICA - Georg Gartner (Technical University of Vienna) Download
6. Mapping the spatio-temporal occurrences of bushfire in the centre of Benin republic - Joseph Oloukoi (RECTAS) Download
7. The use of crowdsourcing for land cover and drought mapping - Steffen Fritz (IIASA) Download
8. Tasking OSM-HOT community for data preparedness and getting geo-data for the operational ICRC needs - Yann Rebois (International Committee of the Red Cross) Download
9. Determination and analysis of the trend of desertification - Ahmed Zegrar (Algerian Centre of Space Techniques) Download
10. GMES in particular on emergency management - Frederic Bastide (European Commission) Download
11. MeteoPICS - Private pictures help documenting severe weather events - Rainer Stowasser (ZAMG) Download
12. Satellite-derived drought index that can be validated by means of a mobile phone application - Markus Enenkel (Vienna University) Download
Day 3 presentations
1. Collaborative damage mapping for emergency response - The role of cognitive systems engineering - Norman Kerle (University of Twente) Download
2. Communication with smartphones where there is no cellular infrastructure - Matthew Lloyd (New Zealand Red Cross) Download
3. Citizen Seismology - Harnessing the Collective Power of Citizens for Efficient Crisis Response - Gilles Mazet (EMSC) Download
4. Crowdsourcing and the ArcGIS Platform - Emanuele Gennai (ESRI) Download
5. Potential for Crowdsourced Data for Population Distribution Models and Databases - Budhendra Bhaduri (Oak Rich National Laboratory) Download
6. 3ISACROWD - Lefteris Mamais (SpaceTech Partners) Download
7. Technical, organizational and ethical challenges of mobile crowdsourcing in crisis managemen - Denis Havlik (Austrian Institute of Technology) Download
8. OCHA/DHN - Andrej Verity (UNOCHA) Download
9. Standby Volunteer Task Force - Standby Task Force Volunteers Download
United Nations Office at Vienna (Vienna International Centre)