Refreshed proposal - Emergency=disaster response

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.

I’m in the side of don’t create a building= for everything. =fire_station exists when its structure is unique, and very common. Shared buildings should be recognizable as =fire_station . Do standalone SES buildings have a unique design? Honestly if they are only a vehicle shed, they resemble a =garages .
Do they have shared logistics and support facilities that are not bases?

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Indeed, =emergency_facility doesn’t describe what it is. They would have different buildings . I’m similarly opposed to making every building in a university =university , while they often have shared functionalities.

  1. The right building should be an =office . That’s what the structure and function is. The left should be a =garages . The definition for them being private personal or individual is unnecessary. It’s only the common case, and is unrelated to structure.
  2. Could also be building= =depot / =vehicle_depot depending on What's better: "building yard", "maintenance yard" or something else? for other depots.

I think I see what you mean. A facility owned by the police is not always an amenity=police. If it is an area owned by the police with warehouses to store police material it would be police=storage but not amenity=police. If we want to apply this scheme to emergency=disaster_response we would need to change the definition in the Proposal. That would be something like this (changes in italic)

emergency=disaster_response applies to a station 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) and doing administrational tasks. It is the place where the members start a mission after getting alarmed

But with this change we do not realy have a method to map disaster response storage warehouses, schools/academys, training places and so on. Maybe a tagging scheme for them could be part of a seperate porposal at a later stage.

On the one hand I would like to have a tagging scheme to group all facilitys that deal directly (local stations) or indirectly (warehouses, academys, …) with disaster response. On the other hand these facilitys are quite different in what they do.

What do all of you think about changing the definition that way?


I agree with you that we should not introduce too many building=whatever. Only if the apperance/style of the building is ver unique we should do this. Using building=garage/garages/depot/vehicle_depot for the building with the vehicles is probably sufficient.

But I do not agree on using building=office for the main building of the station. I woud even prefer building=yes because it is not (only) an office. Unfortunately I do not know a good tag for a building that has so many things combined (workshop, offices, teaching rooms, showers/changing rooms and like I showed on the second photo sometimes also the vehicle garage). Does anyone have an idea how we could tag such a building?

Building=yes does indeed work for most things!

I only mentioned the building=emergency_response idea as it has been mentioned in previous proposals that they should be building=school / university / lifeguard / military etc etc to allow people to do a query & find how many “school buildings” there are.

An office can certainly have conference rooms for teaching, and changing rooms. If a hardware tech company has a workshop in their office, it would still be =office . It is where they work in to provide services.

I won’t be totally opposed to something similar to building:use= but directly for this “use” that doesn’t correspond to the structure in building=. However, the scope needs to be considered carefully to avoid different aspects mixing together. Data-wise, there is redundancy with the area they are in spatially, when they can be determined to be inside a amenity= or landuse= for what they are used for.
To be more specific here first, the =garages or =depot could follow depot= to show what they are housing. This has implication on their size. A base could have garages for different vehicles. There are a little garages | Keys | OpenStreetMap Taginfo (N=42) used.

I can’t find anything about this in the wiki. If I think about an office, I think about rooms with desks, computers and documents. For example something like this (source):

If the building includes a workshop of a significant size I am not sure what building=* I would use. An example for an workshop is this (source):

If a building consists of

  • offices with desks and computers
  • workshop with tools
  • kitchen
  • lockers
  • showers/toilets
  • storage for food and household articles
  • conference/teaching rooms

How would you tag such a building? Even though building=yes would not be wrong, it would be nice to find something more detailed. How are your opinions on using building=office?

I’d ignore all elements of building use and just tag the building based on what the building itself looks like. It might be building=office, it might be building=industrial, it might be something else again.

| os-emmer
November 20 |

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If a hardware tech company has a workshop in their office, it would still be =office .

I can’t find anything about this in the wiki. If I think about an office, I think about rooms with desks, computers and documents. For example something like this (source):

If the building includes a workshop of a significant size I am not sure what building=* I would use. An example for an workshop is this (source):

If a building consists of

  • offices with desks and computers
  • workshop with tools
  • kitchen
  • lockers
  • showers/toilets
  • storage for food and household articles
  • conference/teaching rooms

How would you tag such a building? Even though building=yes would not be wrong, it would be nice to find something more detailed. How are your opinions on using building=office?

There are different types of offices. Question is whether we would want to distinguish them, and if yes, how, subtags or different main tags?

From the above list, what around here is expected in offices typically is:

  • kitchen (for preparing coffee, with a fridge, not full featured usually)

  • toilets

  • conference rooms

what is not usually expected:

  • workshop

  • lockers

  • showers

these are typical to factories and other places where manual work is performed.

Storage for food and household articles can be found everywhere in small not worth to mention quantities, otherwise these take more room in places like restaurants, hotels, etc.

More offices are starting to have showers for the benefit of employees commuting by bike (may not be always necessary depending on weather and bike infrastructure) , or doing workouts . Lockers might be found at eg a security office, and bus or train depot.
Google offices can have full-sized kitchens (aside from canteens), gyms, and indoor ball courts or playgrounds. Doesn’t make them retail or civic related. An building=university or commercial lab building=office can have workshops and labs next to lecture halls and offices.
But anyway, this isn’t critical for this proposal. The argument is you don’t need a builidng= for each function.

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I totally agree. From what I’ve read I conclude that there is consensus that

  • we do not need building=disaster_response as there is no unique building style for the disaster-response organisation buildings.
  • the buildings should instead be tagged with an already existent building=* tag according to the wiki page.
  • a seperate discussion thread about the exact meaning of building=office, building=garage, building=industrial or others can be started by anyone.
  • emergency=disaster_response should be added to the node/area resembling the disaster-respnse-unit similar to amenity=police or amenity=fire_station and not to every buidling=*.

Is this conclusion correct? If not please tell me.

A different question I asked that wasn’t realy answered is:
What exactly do we want to tag with emergency=disaster_response? Every facility of a disaster-response-organisation including admiistrative offices, warehouses, academys and so on? Or only the local stations from where a mission is started?

I am realy not sure about this. On the one hand all of these facilitys are relevant for disasters. On the other hand they are very different and grouping them in one tag may be confusing. While small disasters can be managed by one local station alone, for bigger disasters logistic help from a warehouse or administrative help from an governmental office may be needed.

After reading a comment from @Kovoschiz I think we should make emergency=disaster_response fitting to amenity=fire_station and amenity=police. So we should change the definition in the proposal to only use emergency=disaster_response for local stations, not academys, warehouses and so on. A detailed tagging scheme for these could be part of a seperate proposal at a later point in time.

What do you think about this?

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