The Humanitarian Information Unit has been developing a sophisticated geographic computing infrastructure referred to as the CyberGIS. The CyberGIS provides highly available, scalable, reliable, and timely geospatial services capable of supporting multiple concurrent projects. The CyberGIS relies on primarily open source projects, such as PostGIS, GeoServer, GDAL, GeoGig, OGR, and OpenLayers. The name CyberGIS is dervied from the term geospatial cyberinfrastructure.


The Rapid Opensource Geospatial User-Driven Enterprise (ROGUE) Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration (JCTD) was a two-year research & development project developing the technology for distributed geographic data creation and synchronization in a disconnected environement. This new technology taken altogether is referred to as GeoSHAPE. See for more information. HIU is leveraging the technology developed through ROGUE to build out the CyberGIS into a robust globally distributed infrastructure.


MapGive, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Humanitarian Information Unit, makes it easy for new volunteers to learn to map and get involved in online tasks.

Imagery to the Crowd

The Imagery to the Crowd Initiative (ITTC) is a core initiative of the Humanitarian Information Unit. Through ITTC, HIU publishes high-resolution commercial satellite imagery, licensed by the United States Government, in a web-based format that can be easily mapped by volunteers. These imagery services are used by volunteers to add baseline geographic data into OpenStreetMap, such as roads and buildings. The imagery processing pipeline is built from opensource applications, such as TileCache and GeoServer. All tools developed by HIU for ITTC are open source.

Secondary Cities

Mapping Secondary Cities for Resiliency, Human Security, and Emergency Preparedness is the flagship, field-based initiative of the Office of the Geographer.

  • Building partnerships to create geospatial data on secondary cities
  • Enhancing understanding of secondary cities through data and mapping
  • Building local capacity in geospatial science-based decision making
  • Providing open geospatial data solutions
  • Facilitating long-term secondary city partnerships and networks