Addressing geospatial preparedness inequity: A sustainable bottom-up approach for Non-Governmental development organizations

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In less developed areas, the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to coordinate disaster response is hindered by a lack of geospatial preparedness. Humanitarian missions often rely on OpenStreetMap as a source of information to overcome this limitation. In these places, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) might already be using GIS to implement development projects before the disaster. This study considers the management of geospatial information by those NGOs and whether they could improve geospatial preparedness from within the communities. This bottom-up approach would allow the inclusion of information relevant to the community in the disaster response decision-making process. The research method was an online survey with a worldwide sample of more than 200 development NGOs. The results show that many NGOs use digital geographic information, mostly open-data. They could indeed improve geospatial preparedness while using open-data and community mapping for the implementation of their projects. There is, however, a limitation; most of the development NGOs using open geographic data are not familiar with the open platforms used by the humanitarian community (i.e., OpenStreetMap). Therefore, the study indicates that the sustainability of this synergic approach requires further harmonization between development and humanitarian organizations working for the wellbeing of the same communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6634
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Development
  • Geospatial preparedness
  • Information management
  • NGO
  • OpenStreetMap
  • Sustainable

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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