GPS use and mapping in humanitarian applications

Humanitarian Links and MapToGround Contact

Contact and links to humanitarian organizations and resources, map sources, mapping software, mapping information and mapping tools.

    MapToGround contact

MapToGround enquires and feedback.

    Humanitarian organizations

All In Diary,

All In Diary is a resource site for field based humanitarian workers, it provides extensive free downloadable material (including information on mapping and GIS).  The information is available item by item or as an All In Diary.

CARE International,

Care International is a global confederation of 14 member organizations working together to end poverty by supporting poverty fighting development and humanitarian aid projects.

Danish Refugee Council,

The Danish Refugee Council operates in the Shelter and NFI, Food Security, Protection, Income Generation, Coordination and Operational Services, Community Infrastructure, Humanitarian Mine Action, AVR, WASH, and Education sectors in conflict affected communities.

European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection,

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) aims to alleviate human suffering and ensure the dignity of populations affected by disasters both natural and man-made.  EU assistance is enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon.  ECHO is headquartered in Brussels and has a global network of field offices.


iMMAP is an NGO that provides information management support to partners responding to humanitarian and development challenges.  iMMAP specializes in data collection, analysis and presentation aimed to enhance coordination through information management.

Médecins Sans Frontières,  Doctors Without Borders,

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders is an international, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare.  MSF/DWB offers assistance based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

Norwegian Refugee Council,

The Norwegian Refugee Council is an independent humanitarian organization helping refugees and IDPs.  It operates in new and protracted crises in 30 countries, providing food assistance, clean water, shelter, legal aid and education.


The On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) concept was developed by OCHA and the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group network.  OSOCC's emergency management techniques are valuable in a sudden-onset disaster that requires international relief resources.


Oxfam is an international organization working to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.

Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection(PHAP),

Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection is an association involving all parts of the humanitarian sector and aims to enable professionals to effectively cooperate to achieve humanitarian action.


RedR relieves suffering in disasters by selecting, training and providing competent and effective personnel to humanitarian aid agencies world-wide.  It has offices in Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Southern Africa and the UK.


ReliefWeb is an extensive source of readily accessible humanitarian information primarily structured by operation.

The Sphere Project,

The Sphere Project was initiated to develop universal minimum standards in core areas of humanitarian response.  These standards are presented in The Sphere Project handbook.

United Nations,

United Nations entry page with comprehensive index to United Nations entities.

    Map sources

CIA World Factbook,

The CIA World Factbook provides country maps, regional maps and physical and political world maps.  It includes information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military and transnational issues for world entities.


GDACS, "virtual OSOCC", is a cooperation framework between the United Nations, the European Commission and disaster managers worldwide to improve alerts, information exchange and coordination in the first phase after major sudden-onset disasters.


HTA, Humanitarian Topographic Atlas, creates high-quality, detailed, and up-to-date topographic maps covering generously the areas with WFP field operations.  The maps are available as PDFs intended for printing at A1 and A3.


The map catalogue of iMMAP, an international NGO that provides targeted information management support to partners responding to complex humanitarian and development challenges.

Logistics Cluster,

The WFP Logistics Cluster provides an extensive range of maps in PDF and/or PNG format.  The maps are intended for humanitarian logistics application.


MapAction's range of maps is extensive; the maps are directed towards operational issues such as logistics and population movement.  MapAction also provides PowerPoint map templates and map symbol sets to enable the production of PowerPoint support for report presentation.

MapToGround (this site),

MapToGround provides maps from recognized humanitarian sources as KMZ files and OziExplorer support files.  There is material on GPS and map basics, notes on OziExplorer, a brief discussion of KMZ and GPX files and a design toolbox for refugee camp design.


OpenStreetMap is a free map of the whole world.  Users may edit the geographical data to maintain currency.


The map directory of ReliefWeb.  Maps are drawn from a variety of sources.

UN Cartographic Section,

United Nations, Cartographic Section, Department of Field Support.  General country or region maps in PDF format.  Mission maps – latest deployment maps and political operations in PDF format.  World map structured by country in PDF format.


UNOSAT provides maps in PDF format indexed by country.  Maps are generated from satellite imagery with additional notation.  Each UNOSAT map is annotated and carries additional text relevant to the situation covered by the map.  UNOSAT also produces multi page reports in PDF format on explicit disaster situations.

UNOSAT Rapid Mapping also provides satellite image analysis during humanitarian emergencies, both natural disasters and conflict-situations with a 24/7 year round availability.  The service is free of charge for UN sister agencies and humanitarian entities operating in line with UN policies.  Output products include maps, GIS-ready data (for example flood extents, damage assessments), statistics and reports.  Do an on-site search for "maps" to see what services are available.

    Map and GPS software

ArcGIS Explorer,

ArcGIS Explorer is a free GIS Viewer that enables the user to explore, visualize, and share GIS information.  The user can create custom maps, include local data and perform spatial analysis.

Avenza Maps

Avenza is a mapping app for Android devices. It does not require an internet connection to work.  The user can choose maps from a very large range of maps.  It will load custom maps in a georeferenced TIF format.


EasyGPS, free software, is designed for laptops, tablets, and desktop computers running Windows 7, 8, and 10.  (Reservations apply for other platforms.)  It exchanges GPS data with a range of GPS units.  It has data management and editing features.

Foxit PDF Tools,

The free Foxit Reader has readily accessible tools for adding further documentation to PDF files.

Google Earth Pro,

Google Earth Pro for desktop computers is currently available.  For serious work it offers features not available in the other two versions.

GPS Utility,

GPS Utility is a commercial program for GPS receiver interaction.  It manages, manipulates and maps details of waypoint, route and track information.  It handles (and hence can convert) an extensive range of file formats.


GPSTest (Sean Barbeau) is a comprehensive GPS test application for phones and tablets running the Android operating system.


IrfanView is a Windows platform image manipulation program with extensive features.  It can load/save an wide range of file types.


Mapwel provides MapUpLoad, a free program to load IMG files into Garmin GPS receivers and MapWel 2016, a commercial program for constructing IMG and KMZ files and for interacting with Garmin GPS receivers.


OziExplorer provides commercial software for interaction between map images and an extensive range of GPS receivers.  OziExplorer for Android runs on phones and tablet that use the Android operating system.

Quantum GIS,

Quantum GIS, QGIS, an effective, comprehensive and free GIS package.

    General map related information and tools

Cartography Community Mapping,

Cartography Community Mapping, CCM, Australia, provides mapping services for community organizations.

Earth Point,

Earth Point provides useful online tools, in particular a versatile coordinate converter and an area calculator for Google Earth.

Distribution Mapping Software,

UTM grid zones of the world indicated on world map.

Finnish Museum of Natural History,

Universal Transverse Mercator and Military Grid Reference System, formal details of UTM zones.

GPS Visualizer,

Useful online tools, especially relating to Google Earth and Google Maps including displaying GPS data on Google Maps, logistics applicable features and KMZ to GPX file conversion.

GPX: the GPS Exchange Format,

Extensive information on GPX files.

How to Use Topographic Maps,

A map reading guide as a PDF download.  You know nothing about maps, compasses and GPS units and you need to in a hurry. – Geoscience Australia, 10 MB PDF.

ICSM, Fundamentals of Mapping,

This site provides a comprehensive overview of maps, mapping, cartography and map production.  It is a consolidated summary of mapping concepts, principles and practice.  Links are provided to other sites which offer more detailed information.

Updated: 10 August, 2021       MapToGround introduced July 2010.       site management