Free, collaborative maps are uniquely valuable to humanitarian work, especially in places where base map data is often scarce, out of date, or rapidly changing. OpenStreetMap is a project to create a free and open map of the entire world, built entirely by volunteers surveying with GPS, digitizing aerial imagery, and collecting and liberating existing public sources of geographic data. The information in OpenStreetMap can fill in the gaps in base map data to assist in responses to disasters and crisis.
In the same way that the OpenStreetMap data bridges the missing information, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team [HOT] acts as a bridge between the traditional Humanitarian Responders and the OpenStreetMap Community. HOT works both remotely and physically in countries to assist the collection of geographic data, usage of that information and training others in OpenStreetMap.
A link between the grassroots OpenStreetMap Community and traditional responders is the main role of HOT. We believe that free geodata can help save and improve lives in times of political crisis and natural disasters. Through our work remotely with a network of OpenStreetMap contributors, and by traveling to help people map their own communities, we aim to make that data available.