Refreshed proposal - Emergency=disaster response

To the best of my knowledge, all SES units are equipped & trained to provide the same level of basic assistance (sandbags, tarps, ropes, chainsaws etc), while some units are e.g. also equipped with boats for flood rescue.

I wouldn’t try to discriminate between individual units based on what their specialisation, if any, may be.

This is one that I tried to cover with the landuse=emergency discussion. The area of the grounds is landuse=emergency, with a building=emergency, but inside that building is an emergency=disaster_response node for the SES unit, but also an amenity=fire_station node for the Rural Fire Service unit that shares the building.

Ok, if that’s the case, emergency=disaster_response fits all SES stations.

I disagree. Lets say there is an organisation with 100 stations distributed over a country. 90 of these stations offer general disaster response, 5 of them are in the mountains specialised in mountain rescue and 5 are near the coast specialised in water rescue. The water and mountain rescue stations do not offer general disaster response. If a station qucks like disaster response, call it emergency=disaster_response. If a station quacks like water rescue, call it emergency=water_rescue and so on (duck tagging). Just because 90% of the stations of this organisation fit emergency=disaster_response, I would not tag all of them that way. If all of them have the same base level of disaster response but some offer additional specialisation, then I think we should use emergency=disaster_response. But if the station lacks general disaster response capabilatys, in my eyes it would be wrong to use emergency=disaster_response, even though most stations of this organisation are disaster response.

That is not what I meant. I meant a single unit that has capabilatys to do for example disaster response but also water rescue. Using two nodes for one thing is against the “one element in real life - one element in OSM”-rule. I think in that case we would need to decide what is more fitting - emergency=disaster_response or emergency=water_rescue.

OK, but at least in Australia, coastal stations doing dedicated marine rescue work (i.e. rescuing sailors from boats in distress) aren’t operated by the SES, they are operated by Marine Rescue / Volunteer Coastguard (& a couple of other groups depending on which State) so they should be tagged as =water_rescue, not =emergency_response.

Yes, they can, & do, assist with flood work, as military can assist with emergencies, but that is not their primary role.

Similarly, those SES units on the Coast which are equipped for flood rescue, could if absolutely necessary, go out to sea to rescue somebody in distress, but aren’t supposed to, as their vessels are not designed for the open ocean.

I think that brings it on point. Basically the main objective of the station decides which tag to use. That would mean that two stations of the same organisation would not necessarily both get emergency=disaster_response. Even if the SES has no such stations it is still in theory possible. I wonder if there is in practice an organisastion that runs an emergency=disaster_response-station but also a different kind of emergency=*-station.

Was there any feedback?

One comment (#140) ^ from Tastrax, but nothing else.

The discussion seems to be flattening out. In the past 5 days I asked twice for comments in the RFC-Thread without any answer. The last time anyone beside me added something to the discussion page was over 10 days ago.

According to the proposal process at least 2 weeks have to pass between the start of the RFC and the voting. These 2 weeks are over. Do you think that the flattening of the discussion means that we should start the vote soon? Or do we need to improve the proposal further?

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I would say that’s long enough, so move it to voting.

If there’s a sudden rash of pertinent comments (as there usually is, despite it being talked about for weeks prior :roll_eyes:), you can always stop the voting process & roll it back to discussion if necessary.


This has come up a few times in this thread. It might help to start the proposal with something like this:

In some countries (e.g. Germany, Australia), there are dedicated non-military organisations whose primary purpose is to aid during disaster response. Different approaches have been developed in different countries to tag them. The goal of this proposal is to unify their tagging. Organisations that help during disasters but do not have disaster response as their primary purpose (e.g. police, fire bridage, medical services) are not affected. Because of how disaster response is organised differently around the world this means the proposed tag will probably not be used in all countries, only in those that have such disaster response agencies as described on this page.

This is just to avoid misunderstandings especially by mappers who may be unfamiliar with this type of organisation.

You could also make a short post in the German part of the forum, since THW is one of the main organisations affected, and there are some people active there who aren’t active in the English forum.

In any case I think this looks good and you have my vote :+1:

That is a very good point. Some of this was already in the Rationale but I reworked the section and incooperated your thoughts. What do you think about that formulation?


In some countries (e.g. Germany, Australia), there are dedicated organisations whose primary purpose is to aid the population during and after disasters. Currently there is no consistent scheme existing to tag these. While disaster response is organised differently in different countries, there are similar organisations in different countries that should be consistently tagged. As disaster response is a type of emergency service, it is logical to use the emergency=* key. Organisations that help in disasters but do not have disaster response as their primary purpose (e.g. police, fire bridage, medical services) are not affected. As disaster response is organised differently around the world the proposed tag will probably not be used in all countries, only in those that have such disaster response agencies as described on this page.

Good point and done:

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It’s been mentioned a few times here, so it would probably be a good idea to include “military” in that list.

I agree. I changed it to:

Organisations that help in disasters but do not have disaster response as their primary purpose (e.g. police, fire bridage, medical services, military) are not affected.


There is currently no active discussion about the proposal. I just started the voting for the proposal. Please give your vote:

To comunicate the start of voting I …

  • … created a new topic:
    [Voting] Feature Proposal - emergency=disaster response
  • … sent an email to the tagging mailing list
  • … addad an update about the proposal status to some wiki discussion pages. (“The voting on emergency=disaster_response started. If you are reading this discussion you may be interested in that proposal.”). I added it to the …
    • … English discussion of amenity=emergency_service. If you speak Russian, Ukrainian or Japanese adding a translation to the corresponding discussion pages would be great.
    • … German and English discussion of emergency_service=technical.
    • … English discussion of emergency=ses_station. If you speak Czech or Spanish adding a translation to the corresponding discussion pages would be grat.
  • … posted a link to the vote in this German post.

Do you see any other places where this information should be published?

I’ve added it to weeklyOSM :slight_smile:

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That’s above & beyond the normal requirements! :+1:

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Do you have a link to that?

You are right. I added a link in the discussion page of the tag emergency=disaster_response anyways. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Will be published on Sunday ~ 1pm here:


It is not even halftime for the voting, but 37 people participated already. There seems to be quite some interest in the proposal.

There is currently some discussion on the German thread going on. If anyone is interested, feel free to have a look. If you do not speak German you could use an online translator.

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The voting periode is over. Thank you to all of the 48 people who participated.

According to the proposal process, a proposal is approved if at least 8 people give an approval vote and at least 75% of the votes are approval votes. We reached 45 approval votes with 1 opposing vote and 2 abstaining comments. That gives us an approval rate of 97,83%. I am more than happy with the result. :smiley: :partying_face: :tada:

However, the proposal process page also states, “all suggestions should be taken into account before a proposal is approved or rejected”. So here is a summery of the comments that where made while voting:

  1. @riiga, approving: “Good proposal to unify tagging”
  2. @Warin61, opposing: “The definition is too restrictive. Certain SES units primarily exist to responed to road accidents. Possibly a secondary tag disaster_response=* to detail the disasters catered to?”
  3. @Polarbear, approving: “and thanks Os-emmer to continue the work here.”
  4. @gendy54, approving: “Why limit it to non-military stations? In France, these are military stations and this tag fits the situation well. The operator tag can be used to distinguish between cases.”
  5. @chris66, abstaining: “I’m fine with the existing tags”
  6. @SomeoneElse, abstaining: “Whilst it might make sense for Australia or other places that have this infrastructure, we’ll no doubt see these “local” tags appear in error elsewhere, like the previous attempt did at
  7. @DnaX, approving: “Very useful also for the Italian “Protezione Civile” (see wiki:en)”

Here are my comments on the critics with some questions:
→ 2. Finding the fine line between too restrictive and too loose is difficult. As my knowlege about the SES is very limited, it is hard for me to imagine how such a station looks like. A car crash is more or less an antrophogenic disaster. @Warin61 Are these stations completly focused on raod accidents? Or are the members of such stations also in service in other disasters like storms or blackouts?
→ 4. The limitation to non-military stations was motivated by the thought that otherwise in a lot of countrys every military base would need to be labeled emergency=disaster_response as soldiers are in peace times often used for tasks like filling sand bags in floods. The US-National Guard was sugested to be included into the proposal, but as they are an armed force focused on weapon-using-situations we decided to not include them. I think during the disussion we had noone speaking about the situation in France so we may have overseen something. Can you @gendy54 explain a little bit about the French military bases you mean? Are they purly existing to help in not-war-disasters? Are the members armed? What tools/vehicles do they use?
→ 5. I understand that deprcating existing schemes is always a challenge. But in my view, the one time “pain” of change is better than keeping the different tags with a very simmilar meaning that evolved in different countrys.
→ 6. I am not sure if I understand your @SomeoneElse comment correctly. Are you commenting to tell that you see a high risk of missuse of emergency=disaster_response? If yes, why exactly?

Even though we reached an astonishing 97,83% of approval, I would like to not just set the status to “approved” now. My plan is:

  1. Hear some other oppinins on these comments that where given during vote.
  2. Learn from these oppinions what and what not to exactly clarify in the wiki.
  3. Edit the wiki pages as described here.
  4. Contact data consumers that could be affected by this proposal about the changes made to prevent anything from breaking unexpectetly. I started a list, feel free to expand it.
  5. Start editing according to new scheme. I am already planing a mass edit for the “Ortsverbände” (local stations) of the German THW.

Sorry for writing so much. Thank you to @Polarbear for initiating the proposal over 3 years ago, thank you to @Fizzie41 for creating this thread to advertise the proposal and thank you to everyone who participated by commenting, voting or helping during the proposal process in any way.


High risk of misuse - no. Risk of misuse, yes.