Groundsure and HOT Mapping

Firstly, what exactly is HOT Mapping?

HOT stands for Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.

HOT mapping is collaboration mapping for humanitarian aid across the world - reaching those in need through maps, using OpenStreetMap as a base for all projects. Unlike in this country, where you can go to your local bookshop and pick up a high detailed map of anywhere in the UK, or simply open your phone and search for a specific address on Google Maps, for remote villages in Tanzania or Uganda this isn't possible!

So how does it work?

Various NGO's (Non-Governmental Organisations) and charities across the world will request mapping and set up projects on the HOT website. These can range from mapping individual properties to residential areas, as well as mapping roads and paths - all from aerial imagery. The projects can range from responding to disasters like earthquakes and landslides, to mapping areas of extreme poverty to help understand food and healthcare needs. There has been a big surge in the amount of mapping needed in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, with 207 projects currently active [17/11/2020 -] worldwide related to COVID-19.

View in OpenStreetMap of an area being mapped.

All mapping contributors will simply pick up a project based on their mapping ability level (split between Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced) as well as the project urgency and simply follow the instructions for that particular task. This will mostly consist of mapping the roads and buildings for the area requested.

Zone designated by NGO's in need of mapping.

How does Groundsure get involved?

Groundsure has been part of the HOT initiative since 2016, getting together roughly once a month for a couple of hours of mapping (one hour donated by Groundsure, one hour of our own time). Over the last four years we have been involved in a wide range of projects, including helping map in response to a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey at the start of this year. Communication with remote villages near the epicentre of the earthquake was a challenge, so help was needed from the HOT community. In previous years we have helped various projects, from mapping for charities fighting the Ebola virus in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to assisting in the response to typhoons hitting northern Philippines - it really is a global effort.

The Groundsure team during a HOT Mapping session.

Lockdown didn't stop the team to organise more HOT Mapping sessions.

There are currently 278,000 mappers globally and since the initiative began, over 94 million houses and 2.3 million kilometres of roads have been mapped worldwide. The initiative is all about putting people around the world on the map.

Personally, I have been involved with HOT mapping at Groundsure since 2017 and have completed over 40 hours, mapping 3,000 buildings and 22km of road.

If you would like to get involved with HOT mapping or would like to learn more about current projects please go to or contact