Refreshed proposal - Emergency=disaster response

Response from Austria community:

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Some time has passed and I revisited the proposal. I refined the Classification of organisations-table.

My current understanding of the world wide situation is, that there are two basic kinds of organisations for emergencys/disasters:

  1. Organisations that have the main objective to send people and equipment to do actuall work in the field.
    Example tasks: Use tools like a crowbar, a pickaxe or an excavator to take someone out of a collapsed house, rebuild destroyed infrastructure.
    Example Organisations: SES (Australia), THW (Germany)
  2. Organisations that have the main objective to send information and orders to the public and to government agencys.
    Example tasks: send a text message to everyone in the affected area with warnings, tell government agencys how to act to help in the disaster, school civilians how to act in a disaster before a disaster happens.
    Example organisations: CDSCHQ (South Korea), BBK (Germany), ÖZSV (Austria)

These organisations are in my eyes too different to groupe them under one single tag. I have this proposal:

  • We use emergency=disaster_response for the organisations that have the main objective to respond to a disaster by sending people and equipment to do actual work.
  • We use something like emergency=disaster_administration for the organisations that have the main objective to ensure that everyone (civilians, agencys, companys) know how to act in a disaster, eighter by schooling them before a disaster happens or by administrating the work in disasters by informing and giving orders to civilians, governmental agencys or companys.
  • We already have the operator=* tag for telling the different organisations appart and the operator:type=* tag for explaining if the organisation is private or governmental.

What do you think about this proposal?

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I am not sure if any of you (@Fizzie41, @Casey_boy, @adreamy, @Adamant1, @Polarbear) is still watching this disussion. You were the ones who were most active here so I ask you directly:
What do you think about my thoughts about differing between emergency=disaster_response and something like emergency=disaster_administration (see my last post)?

I for my self am not realy sure about the disaster-administration tag. I think in Germany we would not realy need this kind of tag because there are not many places that could fit this tag. emergency=disaster_response would be sufficient for the situation here. And I think for Australia it is the same. Do you @Fizzie41 agree?
But we need a tagging scheme that works internationally. What do you @adreamy think about the situation in South-Korea? Cound emergency=disaster_administration be usable for the CDSCHQ?

I am still trying to find a definition for emergency=disaster_response. Maybe something like this:

A permanent place of an organisation that has the main objective to help people after and during big disasters or catastrophys by working in the affected area. The place is used for storing equipment (hand tools, trucks, boats, safety gear, …), training the members (volunteers and paid ones) or repairing the equipment.

And here are some examples that could help with understanding the definition:

Examples for the equipment of the organisation:

  • basic hand tools (hammer, screw driver, chissel, pickaxe, shovel, …)
  • basic power tools (drill, chainsaw, …)
  • construction vehicles (excavators, cranes …)
  • trucks/cars
  • boats
  • tents
  • water pumps (small ones that can be carried by 1 or 2 people but also some that are so big that they are permanently attached to a truck trailer)
  • electric generators (small ones that can be carried by 2 people but also some that are so big that they are permanently attached to a truck trailer)

Examples for objectives of the organisations:

  • finding and rescuing people from collapsed houses
  • provisorily repairing or replacing damaged infrastructure (roads, bridges, electric wires, electric generators, communication wires, water pipes, …)
  • pumping away flood water from big areas
  • setting up tents or other temporary homes for people who got homeless because of a disaster

This is not a complete list. There can be other tools and tasks done by emergency=disaster_response-oraganisations. And it is not necessary that the organisation has/does all the above meantioned things to qualify for emergency=disaster_response.

Firefighters (amenity=fire_station) and ambulances (emergency=ambulance_station) do not fall under the definition. Even though they may have some of the meantioned equipment or do work in big disasters, that is not the main objective for them. They mainly assist in smaller but more common situations (a single house is burning, someone fell down the stairs and needs to go to the hospital asap, two cars crash into each other). emergency=disaster_response should be the tag for the organisations that are necessary if something big happens (a massive earthquake, floodings that convert citys into lakes, black-outs that affect citys or even bigger regions, …).

What do you (especially @Polarbear, the original creator of the proposal) think about this definition and the examples?

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Sorry, yes, have been watching, but also busy the last couple of days

I’m wondering the same as that could also just come under government=office or similar?


Take out “big”, because the SES here will help if it’s only 1 house.

I don’t think you’d need to be so specific in what sort of equipment they use?

No, the only one of these that SES would do would be pumping of water & it wouldn’t be for a “big” area. Rescue from a collapsed building would be Fire or Police Rescue; replacing infrastructure is a Government problem at a later stage; emergency housing like that would likely be provided by either Army or Red Cross.

Thank you Fizzie for your answer.

Then the definition would be:

A permanent place of an organisation that has the main objective to help people after and during disasters or catastrophys by working in the affected area. The place is used for storing equipment (hand tools, trucks, boats, safety gear, …), training the members (volunteers and paid ones) or repairing the equipment.

If we used this definition the fire departments in Germany and probably also in most other countrys would need to be tagged as emergency=disaster_response because a single buring house could count as a “catastrophy”. You could argue the same with hospials. Basicly everything that makes that you need a hospital is a (small) catastrophy for you.
But grouping all these things would be bad in my oppinion because they all are very different in what they actually do.

I collected some inforamtion from the English and German wikipedia, from the proposal page, from the currently in use tag emergency_service=technical and from other places in the internet.

The proposal page includes

A station of an agency providing emergency response for civilians during or after a disaster (natural or anthropogenic).


Stations of State Emergency Services, Civil Protection, or Civil Defense Services are facilities of the governmental and non-governmental organisations, aiming to support the civilian population in cases natural or anthropogenic disasters.

The wiki page of emergency_service=technical includes something that does translate to something like

Places of organistaions that provide technical rescue but do not regulary do fire-fighting or medical emergency services.

Taking all these information into consideration I came up with

A place 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 equipment (hand tools, trucks, boats, safety gear, …), training the members (volunteers and paid ones) or repairing the equipment.

What do you think about this reworked definition? I am not realy sure about excluding firefighters and medical services with this kind of definition. But they already have well established tagging schemes.

I just wanted to give some examples. These examples are not a part of the definition. I just want to make sure that we are realy talking about the same thing.

Ok, so there seem to be some differences between Australia and Germany. But like I said, these are just examples and not the definition. What kind of work does the SES do? Can you give some typical examples? You said “replacing infrastructure is a Government problem at a later stage”. To be clear, what I meant was stuff like this:

  • replacing a big bridge that got flooded away with a temporary one (example)
  • setting up a diesel generator at a hospital in case of a blackout
  • setting up a big radio antenna for communication in case the normal ones are not usabel for whatever reason (example)

Hearing some other people with knowlege about different comparable organisations would be nice.

Spoke to a couple of people on another Forum, that I know are actually in the SES. Their response:

"Depending on the level of training a typical SES unit will do

Road rescue after vehicle accidents
Search for lost people
Rescue people trapped in caves
Do search and rescue in flood waters
Support Fire brigades in bush fires, Police at major accidents
Support the community after major wind storms securing property, clearing roads of trees down

In short support the community after fire, flood and storm damage with many units qualified to do rescues after traffic accidents."


“Not just after. The SES also do a lot of preventative work – both on their own before/during storms and floods with sandbagging, securing windows and doors, etc – and assisting the RFS and Police during searches”


Thank you @Fizzie41 for your information about the Austrailian SES. I added your examples to the table in the proposal discussion.

Probably a lot of new people stumbling accross this thread now are not willing to read the 40+ posts before. So to make it easy here is a summary with some questions:

We are trying to find a world wide unified tagging scheme to map places of disaster response organisations, so organisations for civil defense or civil protection like the German THW or the Australian SES. One Idea for a definition for the places of these organisations is:

Typical working sites of the organisation are collapsed houses, flooded citys, car accidents and areas with destroyed infrastructure such as electrics, plumbing, roads, bridges or communication.

On the proposal talk page there is a list with organisations that may or may not fit this definition.

What do you think of my idea for the definition? Does it fit disaster response organisations that you know? Which organisations should be added to removed from the list in the propsal talk page?

Going by this wiki table header for Italy seen absent in the table

Underneath are the Regional PCs such as for Abruzzo

Underneath that communities have their Centro Operativo Comunale such as for Rapino (at least here you find road side signs pointing to them. They’ll activate on natural disasters such as prominently mentioned earthquakes. This one surveyed the premises are basically stores for all you need.

Everywhere you find Emergency Assembly Point signs, named and numbered, often road signs pointing at where they are. Been mapping them whenever encountered but I think to waste my time as these orgs doubtlessly have it all in a DB with coordinates and probably an overlay map top of OSM or Google maps.

Other columns: Yes, Yes, Yes, ?, ?, ?, ?, Tagging of centers, haphazard, this the only one I’ve done.

They run for instance support manning of the Covid-19 vaccination centers (not the medical staff).

Sort of what I’ve loosely figured out.

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?