Towards harnessing OpenStreetMap for Climate Action
11-30, 11:30–11:50 (Africa/Douala), Auditorium
Language: English

As we all and especially urban areas grapple with the challenges posed by climate change, the need for effective strategies and tools to promote climate action readiness and sustainable urban development has become paramount. This talk explores the potential of OpenStreetMap (OSM) as a powerful platform for generating high-resolution spatial indicators that facilitate climate action, support urban planning and in particular the vision of a 15-Minute City. This is based on a new major project at, that shall support developing relevant data, services and apps for the next years.
The concept of climate action readiness will be discussed, emphasizing the importance of assessing and understanding a city's preparedness to address climate change impacts. By harnessing the wealth of geospatial data available in OpenStreetMap, it becomes possible to derive spatial high-resolution indicators that reflect a city's climate action readiness, such as the distribution of renewable energy infrastructure, green spaces, and public transportation networks.
Also the potential of OSM for realising the concept of a 15-Minute City will be discussed. The 15-Minute City is an urban planning approach aimed at creating self-sufficient neighbourhoods where residents can access most essential services and amenities within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. Leveraging OpenStreetMap's data and tools like, it is possible to calculate and visualise the 15-minute accessibility of various amenities, including schools, healthcare facilities, grocery stores, and recreational areas. These indicators enable urban planners and policymakers to identify gaps in accessibility, prioritise infrastructure investments, and promote sustainable and equitable urban development. Openrouteservice by has already been used for many accessibility analyses, especially the global open healthcare access map based on OSM, which is a first example of analysing access to relevant public infrastructure.
The talk will showcase first examples and case studies where OpenStreetMap has been utilized to generate high-resolution spatial indicators for climate action readiness. It will discuss how the integration of OSM data with advanced analytical techniques and visualisation can empower decision-makers and communities to make informed choices and take proactive measures towards climate action and the realisation of a 15-Minute City.
By utilizing OpenStreetMap's collaborative and open nature, this talk will advocate for democratising geospatial data and its critical role in advancing climate action efforts. It will inspire participants to leverage OSM as a powerful tool for generating valuable insights, fostering community engagement, and promoting sustainable urban development in the face of climate change.
While OSM has a diverse community contributing to its dataset, variations in data coverage and quality across different regions can pose challenges when utilizing OSM for climate action planning. The talk will emphasize the need to understand the limitations and biases associated with OSM data and to adopt appropriate strategies to address data gaps.
To tackle these challenges, the presentation will also give an overview of services like by the Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT). These services provide tools and methodologies for analysing OSM data quality, including assessing data completeness and identifying data gaps. By leveraging such services, climate action planners can gain insights into the reliability of OSM data in specific regions, enabling them to make informed decisions and augment missing data through targeted mapping efforts.
Local community mapping initiatives in OSM for climate action planning are key for the success of such undertaking. They contribute firsthand knowledge and can address data gaps, particularly in underrepresented areas. By collaborating with communities and supporting capacity building, OSM can become a more inclusive and comprehensive platform for generating climate action indicators and promoting sustainable urban development.
We emphasise the need for partnerships with local stakeholders to enhance data quality, accessibility, and coverage in underrepresented regions. By addressing these challenges and capitalising on the strengths of OSM, the community can leverage the platform to foster climate action readiness.

Prof. Dr. Alexander Zipf is chair of GIScience (Geoinformatics) at Heidelberg University (Department of Geography) since late 2009. He is member of the Centre for Scientific Computing (IWR) and founding member of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE). Currently he is busy establishing the Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT gGmbH). HeiGIT conducts research on OSM and develop services and applications based on OSM and open data in the fields like humanitarian aid, disaster management, smart mobility and climate action. Already since 2008 serves the OSM community with a broad range of functionalities related to routing and mobility.
2012 -2018 he was speaker of the graduate school “CrowdAnalyser - Spatio-temporal Analysis of User-generated Content“. He is also member of the editorial board of several journals and organized a set of conferences and workshops. 2012-2015 he was regional editor of the ISI Journal Transactions in GIS (Wiley). Currently he is associated editor of the international journal Geo-spatial Information Science (GSIS) by Taylor & Francis (open access).

Before coming to Heidelberg he led the Chair of Cartography at Bonn University and earlier was Professor for Applied Computer Science and Geoinformatics at the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany. He has a background in Mathematics and Geography from Heidelberg University and finished his PHD at the European Media Laboratory EML in Heidelberg. There he also conducted further research as a PostDoc for 3 years.