Mt. Cotopaxi and Surrounding Cities

Mapping Vulnerable Communities

Mt. Cotopaxi

In August 2015, Ecuador declared a state of emergency after Cotopaxi shot ash 7 miles into the air on August 2015. The volcano has since continued spewing ash and steam, causing continued concern for those living in the vulnerable areas nearby.

Getting Started

OSM License

In order to coordinate the various mappers collaboratting on this task the OpenStreetMap Tasking Manager (OSMTM) is going to need to access your OSM account. If you havent logged in when you select a grid square to edit it OSMTM will ask permision at that time. Once logged OSMTM will ask you which editor you prefer to use. For first time editors iD may be the easiest. If imagery has been provided for the grid square you have selected than you may be required to agree to the terms of a license to make use of the imagery. If a license agreement appears at this stage please review it before signing.


First, make sure you’re using the right background imagery. For this task, you will have multiple types of imagery to choose from. This can be found on the navigation bar on the right of the screen. For Karangetang, the default will be custom imagery. If the screen is black, try switching to Bing imagery.


While editing you may encounter a situation where existing features were drawn based on older imagery and therefore don’t align with the current imagery. Using the alignment arrows in iD editor, you can align the new imagery to match the existing features. Now when you add new features they will be aligned with the existing ones!

Splitting A Square

Having selected your square and inspected it with the imagery in place, you may realise that there is far too much detail for one person to map. In this case you may want to split your square into smaller more reasonable tasks. As a general rule if you think that it will take longer than 2 hours to map all the tasks features in one square than you should probably split it up.

It is important to use caution when splitting squares because it comes at a cost - any usefull comments previously completed in the square will be lost.

To split your sqare simply click split the button in Tasking Manager

iD Editor Square Status

When finished with a square, please mark progress accordingly. If you have mapped all features in your square, mark the task as “Mark task as done”. If there are still features to map, please “Unlock” the task with a short explanation of what you contributed and features are missing. If the imagery in your task is unusable, please mark the task as done, but add a comment explaining the issue - “Cloudy Imagery,” “Imagery does not cover the whole task,” etc.

Saving in iD Editor

When tracing features, please remember to save early and often. Accumulating too many unsaved features may cause an error, losing all of your work. This is especially true for larger featuers that overlap squares such as waterways or roads. These features are continuous and appear in multiple cells across the project area which can cause errors when edited by multiple users.

When saving, please do not alter the predefined changeset comments.



Tracing buildings takes good imagery and patience. Take your time and pay attention to angularity, alignment between buildings and reflecting the regularities between buildings.

Select new Area (Keyboard Shortcut: 3) in iD and put a node down at every corner of the buildings roof. Double clicking will complete the area. If you havent formed perfect right angles at every building corner don’t cry, you can ‘shift-click’ on the area to bring up the contextual area menu and use the tool to orthogonolize the area (Keyboard Shortcut: s).

Buildings should be traced as outlines of where the building meets the ground. This last piece is important. The roof outline is often easier to see in the imagery so you’ll find it often traced in OpenStreetMap but it’s wrong. If you see that the outline of the roof you traced does not align with where the building meets the ground you can ‘shift-click’ the path and use the tool to drag the path to the correct position.

Copy/Pasting Buildings in iD Editor

There may be residential or commercial areas where buildings next to each other are identical (usually by design). To save time, you may want to copy and paste the buildings. To do this, simply trace and tag the first building. Once you have the first building set, press CTRL-C on your keyboard. From there, simply press CTRL-V to paste the building as many times as necessary.



The whole process of creating a road looks is captured in the GIF to the left. Click on the image for a larger version of the image.

Roads Must Intersect

Roads must be connected where they intersect. Make sure the roads connect to each other where they cross. You should see a node appear at each intersection.

Follow the Flow

And follow the flow of roads where possible. On the left the road was traced with a “detour” for no apparant reason. On the right you see how the road tracing follows the logical flow of the road.

Tertiary Roads

highway = tertiary:

Tertiary roads are typically the most obvious, widest paths that you will see. These roads are easily seen in the imagery and will seem wide enough for two cars to pass. Tertiary roads connect towns, villages and major streets.

Residential Roads

highway = residential:

This tag is used for roads in or around residential areas except the major roads. Generally we would want you to classify a road this way if you suspect that it is used mostly by people that live on the road. Roads lined by residential buildings are good signs. If your unsure than use 'unclassified' value.

Unclassified Roads

highway = unclassified:

This classification is used for minor public roads typically at the lowest level of the interconnecting grid network. Unclassified roads have lower importance in the road network than tertiary roads, and are not residential streets or agricultural tracks. Unclassified roads are considered usable by motor cars.

Tip: if a minor roads is not a residential street or agricultural track, then mark is as an unclassified road.

Water Features

Rivers as Lines

Rivers are traced as lines. The entire process is captured in the GIF to the left. Please be sure to trace the river until its natural end. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Editing Rivers

Many rivers and other water features (ponds, lakes, etc.) may already be mapped. Please take a moment to make sure that the features are traced correctly. If any appear to be wrong, please adjust the existing features as much as possible.