Collaborative mapping

Collaborative mapping[3] is a collaborative effort to create maps by contributing map elements to a joint geographic information system[4]. Collaborative mapping can be used for:

SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities - Learning Resouce supports the SDGs - UN-Guidelines[1]
SDG17: Partnership for the Goals - Learning Resouce supports the SDGs - UN-Guidelines[2]



The "individuals" that contribute collaboratively to the mapping results can be:

  • Humans (e.g. Humanitarian Open StreetMap,
  • Animals (e.g. tracked birds to create map for migratory routes[10]),
  • Autonomous unmaned vehicle mapping, collaborative (e.g. underwater vehicles[11])
  • Multi institutional data import in a data sink - collaborative institutional support (e.g. donation of validated data to OpenStreetMap)

Open Community Approach


Application of the Open Community Approach to collaborative mapping leads to maps release as open geo data[12] products available for the community and uses open source and open content to create the mapping product[13]. In this context open collaboratie mapping is as special implementation of the open community approach. The term “open” for an open collaborative mapping refers to the opportunity for anyone to join and contribute to the collaborative effort, i.e. produce and use the mapping product under free licence. The area and collected spatial data are determined collaboratively by members of the community. The geographic spatial environment can be considered as complex adaptive system, so the resulting map (“product”) is made available under a free license, so that other communities can adapt and build on them according to the dynamic changes of our environment.

Mapping Products

  • Routing Networks - e.g. bus network showing connections but not necessarily as a kind of projection from the earth surface
  • 2D Maps - classical maps as printout of digital maps like w:OpenStreetMap
  • 3D Maps that including the alteration and even surface texture (see Regard3D)
  • Murmurations provides a collaborative mapping framework which leverages the collective effort of multiple mappers to produce customisable maps and directories from decentralised, interoperable Profiles.

Application of Mapping Products


Map can be used:

An open collaborative mapping approach prefers to use open scientific, educational and technological resources to accomplish the mapping results pubished under an open licence (e.g. Creative Commons for the community.

Learning tasks

Mapper4SDG Collaborative Mapping of SDG Activities - Display activities on an OpenLayers map
  • (Collaborative definition of mapping activities) Explore how Humanitarian Open Street Map or Missing Maps defines the goals of an collaborative mapping activities.
  • (Swarm Intelligence) Explain similarities and differences between collaborative mapping and swarm intelligence.
  • (Open Community Approach) Consider a community with limited resources. How would you applied the Open Community Approach to accomplish community goals with collaborative mapping (access to resources, map the risk, map the demand of ...).
  • (Example community tasks) Assume you have class with students that want to learn about colloborative mapping. The task for a community of students is to create a map with all the places where the participants live (e.g. this example was taken from a summerschool[17])
  • (Mapping Health Care Facilities) Explore the design principles of and analyse how collaborative principles are applied. Especially look on quality assurance of geodata.
  • (Advanced learners) Organize a mapathon to engage a community in mapping activities all focusing on the same area of the world (see Missing Maps - Mapathon).
  • (Blender and GIS) Check Video about Blender and GIS and explain how collaborative mapping and 3D Modelling can be combined to create Real World Lab scenario.
  • (Open Data) Explain the role of Open Data for collaborative mapping and using the data as common good for a common good.





See also



  1. UN-Guidelines for Use of SDG logo and the 17 SDG icons (2016/10) -
  2. UN-Guidelines for Use of SDG logo and the 17 SDG icons (2016/10) -
  3. Collaborative mapping. (2017, September 8). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:11, September 26, 2017 , from
  4. Rouse, L. J., Bergeron, S. J., & Harris, T. M. (2009). Participating in the geospatial web: collaborative mapping, social networks and participatory GIS. In The geospatial web (pp. 153-158). Springer London.
  5. Michael, N., Shen, S., Mohta, K., Mulgaonkar, Y., Kumar, V., Nagatani, K., ... & Ohno, K. (2012). Collaborative mapping of an earthquake‐damaged building via ground and aerial robots. Journal of Field Robotics, 29(5), 832-841.
  6. Public Transport Map for Managua, generated by HOT-OSM initiative (2017/09/21) -
  7. Neis, P., Singler, P., & Zipf, A. (2010). Collaborative mapping and emergency routing for disaster logistics–case studies from the haiti earthquake and the UN Portal for Afrika (pp. 1-6). na.
  8. Freifeld, C. C., Chunara, R., Mekaru, S. R., Chan, E. H., Kass-Hout, T., Iacucci, A. A., & Brownstein, J. S. (2010). Participatory epidemiology: use of mobile phones for community-based health reporting. PLoS medicine, 7(12), e1000376.
  9. Gatrell, A. C., Bailey, T. C., Diggle, P. J., & Rowlingson, B. S. (1996). Spatial point pattern analysis and its application in geographical epidemiology. Transactions of the Institute of British geographers, 256-274.
  10. Bridge, E. S., Kelly, J. F., Contina, A., Gabrielson, R. M., MacCurdy, R. B., & Winkler, D. W. (2013). Advances in tracking small migratory birds: a technical review of light‐level geolocation. Journal of Field Ornithology, 84(2), 121-137.
  11. Johnson, B., Hallin, N., Leidenfrost, H., O'Rourke, M., & Edwards, D. (2009, May). Collaborative mapping with autonomous underwater vehicles in low-bandwidth conditions. In OCEANS 2009-EUROPE (pp. 1-7). IEEE.
  12. Haklay, M., & Weber, P. (2008). Openstreetmap: User-generated street maps. IEEE Pervasive Computing, 7(4), 12-18.
  13. OpenStreetMap Editors - OpenStreetMap Wiki (accessed 2017/09/25) -
  14. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) applies the principles of open source and open data sharing for humanitarian response and economic development -
  15. HOT - A crowd-sourced public transportation map for Managua 2016/01 - - Generated Map:
  16. HOT - Malaria Activities and Mapping Programme -
  17. Collaborative Mapping Task with Participants at Summerschool at University Koblenz-Landau (2017/09/20) by Engelbert Niehaus - see Open Community Approach
  18. OpenLayers Display Markers - Sources for webbased mapping tool for creating markers on a Map based on a JSON file in a HTML textarea - available on GitHub (accessed 2017/09/22) -
  19. Mapper4SDG - Sources for webbased mapping tool for Sustainable Development Goals on GitHub (accessed 2017/09/22) -