No? Do you have a computer? Yes?
Then you should go here: Typhoon Haiyan – Mapping response. People in the Philippines are dying right now.
In a nutshell, the Red Cross has asked OpenStreetMap for help. They need to know which streets are still open, whether bridges and buildings have been damaged.
DigitalGlobe has supplied hi-res satellite images of the area. Things you can do:
- Find an open job under the link above (click the link; needs an OpenStreeMap account)
- As a beginner, try to locate an area which only water.
- Verify that there is nothing on the satellite images (sometimes, it’s hard to spot small islands on the overview map)
- If you checked the area, mark it as Done with the comment “Not on land”
- Congrats, you just saved the other, more experienced mappers a few minutes
- Knowing a damaged building from an undamaged one takes some experience. But you can use the Bing maps to try to locate buildings that haven’t been mapped so far. I mapped all buildings in the jungle on a remote island, for example. That might not help a lot but it’s a low risk task and at least means that other mappers will only have to validate the island instead of locating and selecting all the buildings.
- Don’t feel like changing the map? Then validate them: Look for things that were missed and add notes what you spotted.
I suggest you use the JOSM editor for this task. Some setup tips:
- Enable Remote Control. That way, you can click on a link on the web site (for example, after selecting a job) and the editor will load all the relevant data
- Useful plugins:
To make it easier to spot damaged / assessed buildings, use a custom color scheme: Damaged buildings crisis mapping
Note: The current satellite images are copyrighted. If you don’t want to sign the agreement, you can still help by mapping the pre-disaster images from Bing; that will help people assess the damage by comparing the old maps with the current state.
If you want to work on the current maps, then you need to click a link in the “OSM Tasking Manager” (the job manager). It will present you with the agreement and display a link that you can click to configure JOSM to display those images as background. Make sure you show/hide the correct layers in the layer list (top right corner).
Important note: Satellite images are sometimes shifted or offset. The effect is that all buildings in an area seem to be at the wrong place (= not where they are on the image). Don’t move the buildings! Instead, shift the offset to align the images with reality (yes, it feels odd that an image made by a satellite could be wrong but they sometimes are).