Crowdmapping is a subtype of crowdsourcing[1][2] by which aggregation of crowd-generated inputs such as captured communications and social media feeds are combined with geographic data to create a digital map that is as up-to-date as possible[3] on events such as wars, humanitarian crises, crime, elections, or natural disasters.[4][5][6] Such maps are typically created collaboratively by people coming together over the Internet.[3][7]

The information can typically be sent to the map initiator or initiators by SMS or by filling out a form online and are then gathered on a map online automatically or by a dedicated group.[8] In 2010, Ushahidi released “Crowdmap” − a free and open-source platform by which anyone can start crowdmapping projects.[9][10][11][12][13]


Crowdmapping can be used to track fires, floods, pollution,[7] crime, political violence, the spread of disease and bring a level of transparency to fast-moving events that are difficult for traditional media to adequately cover, or problem areas[7] and longer-term trends and that may be difficult to identify through the reporting of individual events.[6]

During disasters the timeliness of relevant maps is critical as the needs and locations of victims may change rapidly.[3]

The use of crowdmapping by authorities can improve situational awareness during an incident and be used to support incident response.[7]

Crowdmaps are an efficient way to visually demonstrate the geographical spread of a phenomenon.[8]


  • HealthMap is a freely accessible, automated electronic information system in operation since 2006 that monitors, organizes, and visualizes reports of global disease outbreaks according to geography, time, and infectious disease agent that also crowdsources user data.[14][15][16]
  • 2007–08 Kenyan crisis[17][18][9]
  • In the 2010 Haiti earthquake the Ushahidi crowdmapping platform was used to map more than 3584 events in close to real time, including breakout of fires and people trapped under buildings.[19][17][3][4][20]
  • One week after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 the Safecast project was launched that loaned volunteers cheap Geiger counters to measure local levels of radioactivity (or volunteers purchased their own device). This data was mapped and made publicly available through their website.[7]
  • Hurricane Irene in 2011[21][22]
  • In 2012 the Danish daily newspaper and online title Dagbladet Information mapped the positions of surveillance cameras by encouraging readers to use a free Android and iOS app to photograph and geolocate CCTV cameras.[23][better source needed]
  • In 2013, predict the reemergence of cicada swarms, WNYC—a public radio station in New York City—asked residents of certain areas to use sensors to track the soil temperature. The crowd-reported temperatures were displayed on a map on WNYC’s website.[2][24]
  • April 2015 Nepal earthquake[25][26][27][28]


  1. ^Aitamurto, Tanja (8 May 2015). “Crowdsourcing as a Knowledge-Search Method in Digital Journalism”. Digital Journalism. 4 (2): 280–297. doi:10.1080/21670811.2015.1034807. ISSN 2167-0811. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  2. ^ Jump up to:ab Aitamurto, Tanja (1 October 2015). “Motivation Factors in Crowdsourced Journalism: Social Impact, Social Change, and Peer Learning”. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  3. ^ Jump up to:ab c d Sutter, John D. “Ushahidi: How to ‘crowdmap’ a disaster”. CNN. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  4. ^ Jump up to:ab The Impact of Crowdsourcing on Organisational Practices: The Case of Crowdmapping. ISBN 978-3-00-050284-2. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  5. ^“Crowdsourced counter-surveillance: Examining the subversion of random breath testing stations by social media facilitated crowdsourcing”.
  6. ^ Jump up to:ab “Concepts to Know: Crowdmapping”. Kimo Quaintance. 4 September 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  7. ^ Jump up to:ab c d e “Chemical Hazards and Poisons Report” (PDF). Public Health England. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  8. ^ Jump up to:ab Aitamurto, Tanja (16 January 2012). “Crowdsourcing for Democracy: A New Era in Policy-Making”. Social Science Research Network. SSRN 2716771.
  9. ^ Jump up to:ab Jeffery, Simon (7 April 2011). “Ushahidi: crowdmapping collective that exposed Kenyan election killings”. The Guardian. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  10. ^“Kamerun: Hier entsteht das neue Afrika”. Der Standard. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  11. ^Belot, Laure (15 March 2012). “ aide les peuples en difficulté”. Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  12. ^“David Kobia: Ushahidi Co-founder. Humanitarian. Avid cyclist. – TechRepublic”. TechRepublic. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  13. ^“FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Ushahidi, Crowdmap and OpenStreetMap” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF)on 7 January 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  14. ^Brownstein JS, Freifeld CC, Reis BY, Mandl KD (2008) Surveillance Sans Frontières: Internet-Based Emerging Infectious Disease Intelligence and the HealthMap Project Archived2008-08-09 at the Wayback Machine. PLoS Med 5(7): e151.
  15. ^Barclay E (2008). Predicting the next pandemic. Lancet.
  16. ^“Hypochondriacs turn to the crowd to track illnesses as CDC goes dark during government shutdown”. VentureBeat. 2013-10-04. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  17. ^ Jump up to:abRühle, Alex (1 November 2016). “Crowdmapping: Ushahidi”. Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  18. ^Oxford, Adam. “Nairobi’s iHub seeks investment for new hardware hackspace, Gearbox”. ZDNet. Retrieved 6 January2017.
  19. ^“Crowdmapping”. Nesta. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  20. ^“How Crowdmapping Attempts to Stay Ahead of Natural Disasters”. Cross-Pollinate. Archived from the original on 7 January 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  21. ^“Crowdmapping Irene”. We Love DC. Retrieved 6 January2017.
  22. ^Halsted, Deborah D.; Clifton, Shari C.; Wilson, Daniel T. (2014). Library as Safe Haven: Disaster Planning, Response, and Recovery; A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. American Library Association. ISBN 9781555709136. Retrieved 6 January2017.
  23. ^“Crowdmapping Denmark’s CCTV cameras”. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  24. ^“Cicada Tracker”. WNYC. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  25. ^“Can workers save Nepal’s sacred sites before the monsoons hit?”. PBS NewsHour. 2015-05-05. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  26. ^“How data gathering has helped in Nepal”. The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  27. ^“How social media is helping Nepal rebuild after two big earthquakes”. Quartz. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  28. ^Bochenski, Natalie (5 May 2015). “Brisbane developers assist Nepal”. Brisbane Times. Retrieved 6 January 2017.