As reports came in on Saturday that Nepal was hit with the biggest earthquake since 1934, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) immediately rallied the OpenStreetMap community. Since then, thousands of people have started mapping.

OpenStreetMap updates in real time. By using OpenStreetMap data, disaster response teams on the ground and organizations like the UN, the Red Cross and Katmandu Living Labs have maps to help the eight million people affected by the earthquake.

Unprecedented numbers

In only 48 hours after the quake, over 2,000 mappers quadrupled road mileage and added 30% more buildings. This is in addition to the great data created by the local community well before the quake.

These are unprecedented numbers. In comparison, the devastating 2010 Earthquake in Haiti attracted 500 volunteers. OpenStreetMap is showing again how an open collaboration platform outpaces closed systems in disaster response.

OpenStreetMap contributions in Nepal. Data created or updated since the earthquake in color. Yellow is newer data. Full interactive map.

Emergency activation

Within hours of the earthquake, HOT had already defined priority areas for mapping and how tasks would be distributed to volunteers worldwide using the HOT task manager. The OpenStreetMap community quickly came together in massive support, tracing out details like mountain roads, forest trails and the location of human settlements from available satellite imagery in one of the most isolated regions of the world.

Mapping Nepal with the HOT task manager.


Here are some highlights of the progress the community has made mapping Nepal.

Kathmandu Living Labs moving their mapping work outside during Sunday’s aftershocks. Photo: Kathmandu Living Labs

Our involvement

Over here at Mapbox, we’ve joined the relief effort. We’ve been helping to render imagery, map new tasks, validate contributed data, provide print maps, analyze map errors, and have kept our Bengaluru office open to the public for mapping.


All objects modified or created by the Mapbox data team in Nepal. Since Saturday we created or updated over 16,000 buildings and 1,600 miles of roads. Full interactive map.

Our office in Bengaluru is open for mapping all week

Get involved

You can get involved in this effort, too. To find out how, visit the 2015 Nepal earthquake wiki. If you have suggestions on how we can help the effort better, please get in touch.