Refreshed proposal - Emergency=disaster response

Thank you SekeRob for telling us something about the italian situation. From what I found on the Internet I think the Protezione Civile is an organisation that in case of a catastrophy manages units of of other organisations like firefighters, ambulances, military, police, NGOs, … Is that right?
Does the Protezione Civile actually have its own people and material for working in the field or is it just managing people and material from other organisations?

An organisation from Belgium, the Belgian Civil Protection, got added to the list (Thank you @joost_schouppe :slight_smile:). I only read the english wikipedia article but it sounds like it is very similar to the German THW and the Australian SES in what it does. From my understanding it also fits the idea for a definition I already meantioned (see below).

What other disater-response-organisations do you know that may fit to this definition? Do you think the definition fits to emergency=disaster_response? How would you tweak it? Would you use a completly different definition?

A facility of a not-military organisation that has the main objective to help the civil population during and after natural or anthropogenic disasters by working in the affected area but does not have firefighting or medical service as their main competence. The place is used for storing and repairing equipment (hand tools, trucks, boats, safety gear, …), training the members (volunteers and paid ones) or doing administrational tasks.

That definition seems pretty good to me! :+1:

Unfortunately there was not much feedback about my repeated questions about the definition for emergency=disaster_response-organisations. But as no one seems to disagree and one person agrees I am going to assume that the definition is at least ok so I added it to the proposal. If someone thinks the definition should be changed feel free to say so.

A facility of a not-military organisation that has the main objective to help the civil population during and after natural or anthropogenic disasters by working in the affected area but does not have firefighting or medical service as their main competence. The place is used for storing and repairing equipment (hand tools, trucks, boats, safety gear, …), training the members (volunteers and paid ones) or doing administrational tasks.

According to my understanding the definition matches the Australian SES, German THW and Belgian Civil Protection. And probably much more organisations all around the world.

Now we should start to think about how to deal with the current tagging scheme. There is at least emergency=ses_station, amenity=emergency_service and emergency_service=technical. As far as I know these tags never passed a proposal process.

Now I have some questions to start a discussion about how we want to deal with these tags:

  1. emergency=ses_station (wiki, overpass)
    The wiki page suggests to use other tags. This tag is mostly used for the Asutralian SES, the Italyan Protezione Civile and the Spanish Protección Civil. I do not know if the Italian Protezione Civile and the Spanish Protección Civil are organisations that fits to emergency=disaster_response.
    What is the meaning of this tag? From my understanding it is basicly just a group to combine the 5 Australian SES’es, the Italian Protezione Civile and the Spanish Protección Civil. Is it not more sensfull to use the well esablished operator=*-tag instead?
    operator=New South Wales State Emergency Service
    operator=Quennsland State Emergency Service
    operator=Northern Territory State Emergency Service
    operator=South Australian State Emergency Service
    operator=Western Australian State Emergency Service
    operator=Protezione Civile
    operator=Protección Civil
  2. amenity=emergency_service (wiki, overpass)
    This is mostly used for the German THW. Additional it is used in the south east of Australia for the SES and for a small number of hospitals all around the world.
    Are the things we are discussing right now realy amenity=*? On the one hand, amenity=fire_station and amenity=police are well adopted and amenity=emergency_service would fit nicly to this. On the other hand I am not sure that this usage fits the definition in the wiki. According to the wiki, “amenity=* is the top-level tag describing useful and important facilities for visitors and residents, such as toilets, telephones, banks, pharmacies, prisons and schools.”.
    I think amenity=emergency_service could be an alternative to emergency=disaster_response but in no situation we need both. I think emergency=disaster_response fits better because the facilitys we want to map are nothing that the general public needs in every day life but just in emergencys.
  3. emergency_service=technical (wiki, overpas)
    This is mostly used for the German THW, it is nearly a synonym for something like operator=Technisches Hilfswerk. Maybe the emergency_service=*-tag could be used in the future to describe a place in more detail, but that would be a seperate proposal. With the current use I see no benefit in this tag. With emergency=disaster_response and operator=Technisches Hilfswerk we have basically the same but it is much easier to adopt this tagging scheme to other organisations.

So in conclusion I say we should deprecate emergency=ses_station, amenity=emergency_service and emergency_service=technical. But these are just my thoughts. What do you think? Would you keep any of the above meantined tags?

Yes, I’d agree with all of those.

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I have no detailed information about organizations other than the German THW. From what I have read though emergency=disaster_response seems to fit at least many quite well.

I also agree with your points 1-3. I see no point in keeping those three tags if emergency=disaster_response is established.

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Thank you @4b696d for your reply!

To find real consensus in this topic I think we need more feedback from people using the relevant tags. I added a link to this thread to the discussion pages of the english and where existing the german wiki page of amenity=emergency_service, emergency_service=technical and emergency=ses_station.

Additionally I did some research with overpass turbo to find the users who use these tags most often/most recently. Details can be found in the hidden box below.

The users who are the most recent editors of 6 or more objects with emergency=ses_station, amenity=emergency_service, emergency_service=technical or emergency=disaster_response are: @4b696d, @Warin61, @LuSirto, @bob3bob3, @rikmede, @Ale_Zena_IT, @adrianojbr, @Strubbl, b-jazz-bot/@b-jazz and @tastrax.

As you are the ones who seem to be most affected by this proposal it would be great to get some feedback from you about the proposal. You can find it here.

My Questions are:

  • What do you think about the proposal?
  • Do you see any need to keep emergency=ses_station, amenity=emergency_service or emergency_service=technical?
  • Are there other tags that need to be added/deprecated/edited?
  • Are we missing something that we should consider?
  • Do you have general comments or questions about this topic?

Thank you for every answer!

overpass-turbo query

I basicly told overpass turbo:

Give me a list with every OSM-object that has amenity=emergency_service, emergency_service=technical, emergency=ses_station or emergency=disaster_response in it and include the username in the result.

The full query is at the bottom and here is a link. Unfortunately only the last edit of every object is found. If someone knows how to find older editors too feel free to tell me.

[out:csv(::user, ::version, ::timestamp,'amenity','emergency_service','emergency','operator','brand','addr:city','addr:country','addr:housenumber','addr:postcode','addr:street';',')]
out meta;

I evaluated the resulting data with table calulation software.

Since you tagged me…

Personally I don’t mind which way it goes, provided that when using the ID editor one can create an object from the search block. In AU that seems to work well by starting to type the state name and all the correct tag fields are populated. From my standpoint too the “name” field needs to be offered (emergency=ses_station doesn’t) as I am most likely entering the contents of a formal sign.


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Thank you a lot @bob3bob3 for your reply.

Automatic help from the iD-Editor for entering something with emergency=disaster_response of course would be great. I added a new node in NSW-Australia and typed “New South Wales” in the search bar. I don’t get anything offered that looks like the SES. Am I doing something wrong?

No, the reason is simple, there is no entry for that in the name-suggestion-index nor in the id-tagging-scheme.
I can add it in the id-tagging-scheme when the RFC is approved, but it will take months for a merge from the maintainers (see open PRs: Pull requests · openstreetmap/id-tagging-schema · GitHub), which is very sad.

@mcliquid Thanks for that info. I find the suggest list very useful as my workflow is usually about entering various and many objects in the order of my drive travels. I might enter a police, fire, ambulance stations, a post office and many more within a few minutes. They all need wikidata/operator information.

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I added the newly discussed things on which I see consensus to the proposal, see here. That includes:

  • deprecating emergency=ses_station, amenity=emergency_station and emergency_service=technical
  • filling the wiki page of emergency=disaster_response with information
  • impementing automatic help from the iD-Editor for entering the relevant tags

If anyone does not consens with any of these steps fell free to say so, even at a later stage.

I totally endorse impementing this tag into the iD-Editor. But I think the details for this should be discussed after this proposal is approved and after emergency=disaster_response gets some use. Because right now we only have the German THW and the Australian SES’es as organisations that defenatly fit the definition. I am sure there are more organisations fitting this tag and maybe for them different tags should be sugested or automatically filled from the iD-Editor. What do you think about this plan?


One question that is not answered at the moment is: How do we map a facility of a disaster response organisation?

I propose the following tagging scheme:

  1. emergency=disaster_response is used exactly once for every unit of the organisation. So every local station, every training center, every logistic warehouse center, … that belongs to the organisation is tagged with emergency=disaster_response.
  2. If the shape and size of the facility of the unit is known, draw an area on the map that includes all buildings, outdoor training areas, parking lots, … and add emergency=disaster_response to this area. If the shape and size is unknown use a node instead of the area.
  3. If the area of one unit is split in different pieces (example) group them in a relation/multipolygon and add emergency=disaster_response to this relation/multipolygon.
  4. If multiple units of the same organisation are located right next to each other (example) add emergency=disaster_response to all of these objects.
  5. The OSM-element with emergency=disaster_response is also tagged with
    1. name=name of local unit
    2. operator=name of organisation
    3. operator:type=government/private/public/ngo/...
    4. operator:wikidata=*, operator:wikipedia=*
    5. addr:city=*, addr:housenumber=*, …
    6. phone=*, fax=*, website=*, …
  6. Every OSM-object that belongs to an unit (building=yes, amenity=parking, …) of the organisation is tagged with operator=name of local unit.

What do you think about this tagging scheme? Are the rules I proposed clear? How could someone missunderstand thse rules?

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  1. For " every training center, every logistic warehouse center, ", in general, I find there is a great divide in emergency= features compared to =police & police= , and military=. They are not duty stations, and this causes such features to be created for each service, especially when the facilities are separate from the duty stations.

As such, in Proposal talk:Fire service - OpenStreetMap Wiki I asked whether eg emergency=academy and emergency=training_area , plus emergency=storage here (cf police=storage , or use =depot if not too confusing with duty stations) would be better than creating an academy= and =storage for each service.

It’s great to see this discussion revitalized.
I’ve been following this discussion with interest, as I think the pretty extensive outreach, data collection, and case gathering process is exemplary of the OSM discussion process.
I can’t help with the organization as it doesn’t seem to exist in my country or region, but I wanted to ask about some of the key attributes for those who are having trouble following the discussion.

  1. This organization seems to be a non-governmental or private organization, is that correct?
  2. does this organization sometimes collaborate with government organizations in disasters and sometimes act independently, or is it a non-governmental organization that acts solely under the control of government organizations?
  3. The organization does not just volunteer manpower during a disaster, but has its own organization, equipment, etc. for disaster relief, is that correct? In other words, I understand that it does not include people who are engaged in activities unrelated to the disaster and use their own equipment to help during a disaster.

I hope my English is good enough to convey my meaning, and if there’s anything else you don’t understand, please ask.
Also, for those who may be marginalized from the discussion due to language barriers, I would appreciate it if more people in their respective communities would translate and share this post.
Thank you.

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Hi Kovoschiz,

if I understand you right you are not happy with the idea to group warehouses, duty/local stations, training centers and more all under emergency=disaster_response, just because they belong to a corresponding organisation. I think you would prefer a tagging scheme that makes it possible to distinguish between different types of stations. If that is wrong, please correct me.

I also already thought about something like

  • emergency=disaster_response + disaster_response=academy for schools/academys
  • emergency=disaster_response + disaster_response=storage for warehouses

or maybe using emergency_service=*.

That would fit nicly to tags like military=academy, police=academy, police=storage or military_service=*, all of which are already documented in the wiki. So that way much more information could be mapped. But I am absolutely not sure which tags and values would be needed in detail.

From my point of view these details schould be a seperated proposal. At the moment, there is no unified tagging scheme for disaster response organisations at all. I think we first should find consensus on a tag to group all of them and when we have this new tag we still can improve the tagging scheme at a later point. What do you think?

Great to her that you are still reading as you were quiet for some time. What organisation are you exactly asking about? I will answer your questions for ther German THW because I don’t have detailed information about other organisations:

  1. The German THW is a governmental organisation. Equipment, facilitys and employees are paid from tax money.
  2. In Germany there are emergency phone numbers for fire fighters/ambulances (112) and police (110). There is no such phone number for the THW. The THW starts a mission when institutions like firefighters or police call them. But also other federal agencys/ministrys can ask the THW for help if needed. It is very rare that the THW starts a mission out of its own initative. The THW is completely under the control of the German government.
  3. The THW has paid employees who do mostly administrative work. For them the THW is the only source of income.
    The people working in a mission in the field are volunteers. Even though you don’t get paid you still need to sign a contract with the THW. To work in a mission in the field you need to pass a basic training (“Grundausbildung”) with a theoretical and practical test at the end. That normally takes about 6 months at about 6 hours/week. As a volunteer all of this is just a hobby. The volunteers earn money by beeing a dentist, mechanic, cashier, teacher or whatever.
    The THW has

An example for a task/mission for the THW is:
A house collapsed and people are trapped in the ruins. Someone sees this and calls the fire fighters. The firefighters are not so well equiped for this so they call the THW to join them. The THW has dogs for spotting people and hydraulic presses and excavators for lifting heavy concrete blocks. For nighttime the THW has lots of lights and also the electric generators to power all these tools and lights. The THW can build support structures to prevent the rest of the building to collapse. After a person is found in the ruins the person is transported to an ambulance so that they can do the medical stuff. This ambulance is not part of the THW.

The language barrier is complicated to come by. I only understand English and German. It would be great to include not english speakers in the discussion but I am not realy sure how to do this.

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This Tag:emergency=water_rescue - OpenStreetMap Wiki is how I suggested mapping for water-rescue bases.

So I’d suggest map the whole area as emergency=disaster_response, with the unit name attached to that area, then each building as building=disaster_response. Way: ‪Southport Fire Station‬ (‪435245960‬) | OpenStreetMap is an example of a fire station mapped in much the same way.

Does leave the problem of what happens when two different emergency services occupy the same building e.g. an SES unit & also a Rural Fire Brigade unit, which is very common in Australia? Both can be mapped with their own node, but what do we map the building itself as?

It would be misleading to set storage and training only features as =police and =fire_station , when they are not police or fire station. The same should apply to emergency=disaster_response here. amenity=police + police= or amenity=fire_station + fire_service= are not used for exactly this reason.
I’m doubting the creation of =storage , =academy , =training_area for fire_service= and disaster_response= separately.

If I understand the wiki for emergency=water_rescue right, the idea is that emergency=water_rescue is used on both the total area and also on every building. If I ask a router “Where is the next water-rescue-station?” it would be very hard to tell if two seperate buildings are two seperate stations or just two buildings of one station. I prefer having a feature that is used exactly once for every station.

I like the name on the whole area with emrgency=disaster_response. I don’t realy like the tag building=disaster_response. Or at least an aditional tag is missing.
On the picture below (source) you can see an exemplary local station (Ortsverband) from the THW.

There are two big buildings. To the left there is a garage for the trucks, trailers and more equipment called “Fahrzeughalle” (vehicle hall). This type of building is currently often mapped as building=garage, even though according to the wiki this tag is only for private garage buildings. On the top right there is the main building. It includes offices, conference/teaching rooms, toilets, showers, a repair shop, changin rooms, a kitchen and maybe more. Sometimes the garage building is included into the main building, see this picture (source):

If we now just replace every building=* with building=disaster_response we loose information already entered into the database. Is there currently a tagging scheme that would fit this situation? Something like building=fire_station/disaster_response/... + includes_vehicle_garages=yes?

I think there are two options:

  • Inventing something like building=emergency_facility as a unspecific value to group all emergency organisations.
  • Using building=yes as there is no better value.