OpenStreetMaps Referdex for nonprofit emergency services

Hi all,

I volunteers for the only effective emergency response teams in our country, and for many years now we have struggled with mapping and navigation.

these are the main challenges we face;

  1. little to no government GIS data
  2. Mobile data/internet access patchy and slow
  3. Almost no street names and no house/lot numbers

This makes responding to emergencies difficult as there is no easy/universal way to describe a location.

what I would like to do is create a printed version of the OSM maps in a referdex format, although my GIS knowledge is beginner to intermediate but leaning more to beginner. I am a a well versed in graphic design. We would like to sell these to the public just for the cost of printing and a public service.

so when people ring for an emergency they can describe there location quickly and informatively e.i. my house is located on MAP12 D14.

to do this my process is/will be to export our cities data to QGIS then style is in QGIS then print to PDF one map square at a time each time moving the map over.

Can can make this work but i was wondering if anyone with more knowledge than me knew of a better way?

In addition to we plan of heavily prompting the OSM platform so that we can get the community building better and more accurate maps for future editions

We would really appreciate any help for feedback anyone can offer us

Thanks in advance

I’ve never printed a OSM map so I can’t recommend you any tool. But we have a Wiki-Page where are mentioned some other tools:

Do you know already the Humanitarian OSM Team? Maybe there someone can help you. They have a mailinglist. HOT also offers a tool called OSM Tasking Manager which is very helpful for collaborated mapping.


While getting some basic vector map in QGIS is probably doable with some intermediate steps, getting a high quality detailed rendering / display of the OSM data is fraught with difficulties. This has to do with the open data model of OpenStreetMap, and the difficult selections / queries required to produce high quality output and prevent spurious overlapping data or double labelling. It can be a major challenge to get high quality output.

I would therefore suggest a couple of alternatives:

  • Use the raster / image data of the OSM website in QGIS directly via the QGIS OpenLayers plugin (Plugins / OpenLayers plugin / Add OpenStreetMap layer). You won’t be able to “style” or “design” the data to your specific needs, but you will be able to overlay stuff and create a basic printed map. But it will suffer from quality loss due to the rendered raster / image base layer of OSM, which is only really intended for on-screen display.

  • If you need a basic printed (mostly vector based) map styled in the same way as the OSM website, and with a referdex format with street names and index, the guys that are behind MapOSMatic did some great work:

  • If you need your own styling, and don’t mind working outside QGIS in another application, you may have a look at Maperitive. It should allow you to download or use vector data, and style it to your needs. See here:

  • If you need or want near topographic map high quality vector data and styling, you may wish to wait for my OSM Renderer for ArcGIS. It is still in development, but my ultimate goal is to make a renderer that is at least equal to the OSM main style on the website, but attempts to be more faithful in terms of real world size and width of objects (e.g. roads), similar to topographic maps. In addition, it renders “emergency services” related stuff, like hospitals, fire stations, ambulance stations, helipads etc. I already have samples of this up here on the OpenStreetMap forums, see here:


Have a general overview of possibilities how to get maps from raw OSM data in the OSM wiki:

also search for “print” or “paper” or PDF on