Mapping for resilience: crowd-sourced mapping in crises

Gilmour, E.
Publication language
Date published
01 Apr 2016
GIS & mapping, Earthquakes, Innovation
Humanitarian Practice Network (HPN)

Massive earthquakes have rocked the Nepalese capital Kathmandu throughout its history. In 1934, an earthquake destroyed a quarter of the buildings in the city and killed over 10,000 people across the region. The most recent major event, on 25 April 2015, had its epicentre 80 kilometres from Kathmandu, in Gorkha. Fourteen of Nepal’s 75 districts sustained serious damage, including the three districts in the Kathmandu Valley. Nearly 9,000 people were killed and another 17,000 injured. Half a million houses were destroyed.

Concerns about earthquake preparedness had been growing for years before the earthquake. Preparedness is more than building earthquake-resistant buildings and resilient infrastructure: information is also a key element, of which maps are an important part. Maps show road networks and settlements, as well as hospitals and other facilities. They are crucial for directing relief, understanding the risk of secondary disasters and locating resources.

Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL), a Kathmandu-based not-for-profit civic tech company founded in 2013, uses crowd-sourced mapping to improve the information infrastructure in Nepal. KLL helped prepare Nepal before the earthquake using open mapping. After the earthquake, the organisation provided crisis maps to relief actors. KLL’s preparation and previous work with crisis mapping meant that it was uniquely placed to provide maps and coordinate crisis mapping after the earthquake.