Youth and Mapping for Social Change


20 young leaders in Youth Leadership, Open Mapping and Sustainable Community Development Summer Intensive Workshop

“I will map remote villages and schools in the outskirts of Kathmandu,” said a university student enrolled in an intensive workshop on Youth Leadership, Open Mapping and Sustainable Community Development. On June 24 and 25, 20 young leaders were motivated to use open data and civic technology to solve social problems during a new course designed by Kathmandu Living Labs and the University of California, Davis. Through practical trainings on OpenStreetMap and interactive lectures on youth leadership, sustainable community development and open mapping, diverse young leaders selected from academic and NGOs identified problems, key stakeholders, and developed action plans to solve the problem using open data and civic technology.

“There is my home where there is me and my mom. There is a transformer but no electricity, there is tap but no water, there is a sewage line going to the Bagmati River and here I am doing the cleaning campaign.” Though being blessed with such natural resources we face many problems. Shreya Manandhar, one of the participants of the course expressed her frustration about the situation of her home town during the activity “My Home Town” in which participants drew their home town and their issues on a cardboard paper.

“Youth are the present and the future and as a team are capable of solving any problem we face in our community.” With this belief, Dr. Jonathan London, Dr. Nancy Erbstein from University of California, Davis, and Dr. Nama Raj Budhathoki from Kathmandu Living Labs came together to design and offer this two-day course. We received over 80 applications and 20 were selected based on academic and/or professional experience, interest, enthusiasm, and gender and cultural background. From the very start it was clear that people had different interests, areas of expertise, and ideas to solve the problems in their community. The one thing that was common to all the participants was the need and desire to give back to their community. This desire was the driving force for the whole two-day summer course.

Whether it was “Where do I stand?”, “My Home Town”, “OpenStreetMap Hands-on exercises”, “Field Visits” or “Stretching”, participants enthusiastically participated in all the activities. The participants came up with many problem tackling ideas in various fields such as transportation, education, business, water pollution, unmanaged urbanization, tourism, public health, transparency, irrigation, agriculture, road conditions and developed action plans in which they defined a problem, identified stakeholders, exercised what maps and data they could use and explored the right mix of team required to address such problems.

In their own words, the participants were “Educated”, “Inspired”, “Empowered”, “Enlightened”, “Curious”, “Insightful”. These feedback inspired and motivated us as organizers as well. Some people say youths are lazy, unaware, carefree but this group of youth showed that they are aware about their surroundings, problems, and motivated to take a step towards the betterment of their community. The course ended with the celebration of the start of new relationships among the participants and the organizers and a hope for future collaboration. Young leaders and civic technology together, it is a powerful formula to solve social problems!

Young leaders learn about how to use OpenStreetMap

Young leaders learn about how to use OpenStreetMap

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Open Data Day 2016: Celebrating Open Data in Pokhara

- By Elizabeth Gilmour

Open Data Day is a worldwide celebration of the value of open data, and a chance for open data users and enthusiasts to teach others about open data and how to use open data. In 2016, it is celebrated on Saturday, March 5 with hackathons, mapathons, workshops, and lectures around the world.

For this year’s Open Data Day, Kathmandu Living Labs held its celebration of open data in Pokhara, Nepal for the first time. While in the past KLL had always held Open Data Day in the Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara is the center of KLL’s newest open mapping work. Pokhara’s rapid urbanization and its high risk for natural hazards makes maps particularly important.

The event began with an inauguration session and a series of talks. Held in the auditorium of the Pashchimanchal Campus Institute of Engineering, the speakers discussed the value of open data to development, democracy, and disaster resilience. To open the workshop, the head of the Research Management Unit of Western Region Campus welcomed the guests.

Dr. Nama Budhathoki, director of KLL, gave a presentation called “Open Data for Social Good”. He explained what open mapping is, and the use of open data in the earthquake of April 2015. Next, Dr. Swarnim Wagle took the podium. He discussed the importance of open data for democracy and development. Hon. Rabindra Adhikari, a member of parliament, was the third speaker. He emphasized the role of open data in development and governance and said that he envisioned Pokhara as the leading Open City in Nepal. The campus chief shared the inaugural session, and the chief executive of the Pokhara municipality highlighted the value of open data in local governance.

After the morning talks, the participants had a chance to get hands-on experience with open data by taking part in one of three afternoon sessions. These practical sessions covered all aspects of open data, from its importance in society to the basics of using OpenStreetMap to get around.

  • In the geocaching, participants used open data to navigate and find hidden caches spread around the campus and the surrounding area. They first received clues, and then used OSMAnd, an app that uses the open data from OpenStreetMap, to find the hiding spots.
  • The Open Data Day participants who attended the Mapathon learned how to create open data for OpenStreetMap. By tracing aerial imagery or adding features that they know firsthand, they could add new features of OpenStreetMap that become part of the open online map of Nepal.
  • The data expedition was a chance for participants to think about the importance of open data and devise a project that uses open data. They worked in small groups to consider types of data and how they would help with disaster resilience. The groups devised a wide range of uses for open data. One group thought of an app that would crowdsource information about safe places to go after earthquakes so that people would know where it is safe to stay. Another group suggested crowdsourcing data about settlements to better predict the impact of landslides and floods.

Two hundred and fifty students registered for Open Data Day Pokhara and attended the event, spending their Saturday learning about data and mapping. Open data and open mapping have a bright future in Pokhara thanks to the hundreds of students who have the skills to develop and use open data.

View Open Data Day 2016 in pictures here.

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OSM Geoweek at KLL: Global Shapers and OpenStreetMap

Kathmandu Living Labs hosted members of Global Shapers who had come to Kathmandu to learn about issues related to sustainable cities. The Global Shapers members had come to Kathmandu for the Shape South Asia conference about creating sustainable cities. During the four-day meeting in Kathmandu, they visited Kathmandu Living Labs to learn about KLL and how the Shapers can use similar technologies in their home cities.

Global Shapers is a worldwide organization of people between the age of twenty and thirty. The members are chosen from young people who have already contributed to their communities, and the organization brings them together so they can learn more and share their knowledge and experience. An initiative of the World Economic Forum, Global Shapers was founded after Charles Schwab realized the potential of young people to change and shape the world.

Many countries in South Asia are at similar risks of natural disasters and suffer from problems resulting from rapid urbanization. The event on Friday at KLL was hence an attempt of cross-learning and sharing experiences on some of the efforts taken in mitigating these problems. The visitors had special interests in Kathmandu Living Labs’ response and recovery works in post-earthquake period; and wanted to explore on the opportunities of employing similar technology in their own countries.

The event began with a presentation about KLL’s work before and after the earthquake, and its contributions to earthquake relief through and other platforms. This presentation acquainted the visitors with how maps as a product can serve as a cross-cutting infrastructure of development for sustainable cities. After the presentation, a geocaching exercise gave the visitors a chance to try out OpenStreetMap, and contribute to creating actual map data. The goal of this exercise was to introduce the visitors to the concept of crowdsourced, community-driven mapping as a process of engendering active citizenship and community involvement which is vital for developing sustainable cities.

Global Shapers at KLL

Global Shapers at KLL

For the mapping exercise, visitors from Global Shapers were divided into three teams. Each team was given a set of clues which they solved to reach certain destinations. At each destination, they had to collect locational (GPS co-ordinates) and non-locational (names, address, etc.) data of certain features like banks, schools, etc. These features were carefully chosen to match areas related to sustainability. For instance, one group located schools, while another found locations related to environment and culture. A third group looked for facilities related to healthcare. Coming back from the field, the Shapers also learnt how to share the data that they had collected with the world via OpenStreetMap – the free wiki map of the world.


Shapers solving clues during the geocaching exercise. Solved clues take them to places!

Shapers solving clues during the geocaching exercise. Solved clues take them to places!

This event was done in conjunction with OpenStreetMap Geography Awareness Week. Like the other events around the world that made up Geo Week, this meeting with the Global Shapers helped to spread understanding of the importance of mapping and geography.

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HOT Activation Workshop – Jakarta

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, or HOT, was founded on the principle that a free, open and accessible map is a tremendously useful infrastructure during disaster response. HOT has time and again played a huge role in engaging the international OSM community in creating an open, free map at times of disaster. HOT’s response to Haiti earthquake of 2010, the West Africa Ebola Outbreak of 2014, and the Nepal Earthquake of 2015 are some examples of such crowdsourced mapping efforts, also known as HOT Activations.

In response to the recent 2015 Nepal earthquakes, HOT collaborated with Kathmandu Living Labs to activate over 9,000 volunteers to do satellite imagery based mapping of the affected districts on OpenStreetMap. Drawing on the lessons learned from this and previous activations, HOT felt the need to create a roster of dedicated trained volunteers to fulfil different roles during an activation. HOT organised training workshops in Dar es Salaam and Jakarta inviting trainees who had already been involved in previous activations and had some experience and could actively participate and give useful feedback on the coursework. Two of us from Kathmandu Living Labs participated in one of the first such trainings, known as HOT Activation Workshops, in Jakarta. Russell Deffner and Mhairi O’Hara of HOT, who also designed the coursework, were our trainers.

Crises are always chaotic situations. At the time of crisis quick but carefully thought out decisions are required. Trained and experienced activators are better prepared to manage such situations. The participants had some experience from their involvement in previous activations, this workshop helped to reorganise their experiences and knowledge in a systematic manner. 

The three-day training included courses on 10 different topics, each one for specific roles to be fulfilled by HOT volunteers during an activation. A simulation exercise with case studies was done with each participant taking an activator role.

Apart from the training, we also had a lot of fun during the Monas excursion and got to have a good feel of Jakarta on its Car-Free Day, evening walks around the city and the museum at Kota Tua. We loved the food, the street music and we had very good cohesion among us participants and our trainers, who have also become our awesome new friends.


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Chile Earthquake and KLL’s Remote Efforts

Every Friday, KLL celebrates 60 minutes of brown-bag ‘Innovation Hour’ in which the team members bring in new, fun ideas to the table. However this week’s innovation hour was different. This week’s KLL Friday Innovation Hour was dedicated to the recent Chile Earthquake. Following the massive 8.3 quake in Chile on Wednesday, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) had created mapping tasks in order to expedite mapping of critical features in the affected areas using satellite imagery and the OpenStreetMap.

HOT created several mapping tasks. These tasks require volunteers to identify, map and in some cases even rectify critical features like roads, open spaces, residential areas, and individual buildings in the affected regions of Chile. The KLL team responded to these HOT tasks by putting in a solid eight man-hours of mapping these features.


Chile Earthquake Remote Mapping Begins at KLL


Using JOSM (map editor) and Bing Aerial Imagery to map critical features in Chile


Mapping critical features continues…

These mapping tasks are still far from being complete, though. If you want to help Chile’s mapping efforts, you can find instructions on how to pick a task and what and how to map here.

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Google at NTB and KLL: Collaborating for an Open Data Paradigm in Nepal

Google at Nepal Tourism Board and Kathmandu Living Labs: Collaborating for an Open Data Paradigm in Nepal



Just Google it! Now a pop culture reference point heard throughout the world, this phrase also defines the hyper-connected, continuously-innovating world of peer-to-peer technology. Google was here! Kathmandu is currently in the throes of recovering from the earthquake of April 25, 2015. Amidst the recovery process and rubble, a team from Google, somewhat serendipitously, has been working with NGOs in Kathmandu on critical post-quake issues.

Presently, Kathmandu Living Labs is collaborating with Sumier and Chris from Google on an Open Data Project at the National Planning Commission. From the company that institutionalized “hangouts,” the Google Meet on July 28 at the Nepal Tourism Board, which drew from the team’s insights, experience and vision, was interaction design 2.0. The Google Team started their trip to Nepal with the Startup Weekend in Kathmandu where they came up with product ideas to benefit disaster relief here. The group of 18 Googlers then split up into teams to begin work on various NGO projects. Following this, the Tech Talk at NTB on Tuesday was organized for the wider entrepreneurial community.The team has met with local tech companies such as Leapfrog Tech over the course of their work. Sandip Agrawal, Software engineer for YouTube, and Ethan Yake, Partnerships Officer at All Hands Volunteers, helped organize the NTB event.

Google has been at the forefront of disaster response with its Crisis Response Tools, Disaster Gift Matching Campaigns and Corporate Grants. When a disaster strikes, Googlers have been interested in supporting not only their generous dollar donations but also their valuable time. As a result, Google launched the Google Disaster Corps (GDC) program in 2015 – a philanthropic Human Capital Investment Program in Disaster Relief. GDC is designed to meet urgent technical needs of relief agencies and to match these with Googlers interested in volunteering for disaster relief, providing critical support to relief organizations during the response process.

The Google Tech/ Entrepreneurship Meet was planned as a set of talks and a 45 minute Q&A panel discussion by Googlers which centered around presentations and discussions on User Experience Design, Tech 4 Emerging Countries and Techno-preneurship in a world not only driven by innovation but also ridden by problems of every scale. Members of the Google Team in Kathmandu are working with organisations such as Mercy Corps, Accountability Lab, Save the Children, Room To Read and the United Nations. The panel discussion with the Googlers in Kathmandu comprised a dialogue with audience members covering varied, cross-sectoral insights on the engine for innovation that is Google; perspectives on tech development, design and sprints and growth opportunities for tourism and tech in Nepal.

The presenters at NTB demonstrated, yet again, that tech for sustainability is a core necessity of the time. Chris is part of the Design Team for Google Chrome and has majored in Computer Science and Human Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University. He has been with Google since he graduated. Sumier has a Master’s in Information Design from the Georgia Institute of Technology and is part of the UX Team – he works at CorpEng and Internal Tools for Google. Their Google Meet presentation at NTB was entitled ‘UX for Entrepreneurs’. Scot is Partner Operations Manager at Google and his presentation was titled ‘Growing a Company from Emerging Markets to Developed Countries’.

Chris and Sumier’s talk on UX for entrepreneurs harnessed their collective insights on user experience, design-driven products and design sprints. From generating audience feedback on the design of a Weather App to presenting Google’s essential design philosophy of the user experience, the speakers delved into the process, research, design and evaluation of UXD. (The Google user interface must certainly be streamlined and crash free now!) Introducing the design sprint concept, the presenters engaged the audience thoroughly in what was, surely, every developer and entrepreneur’s life cycle analysis of choice. “Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make.”

Scot’s presentation refocused attention on a pressing need in the region – sustainability and technological solutions for critical problems faced by the Developing World. As a case study and prototype, he presented on a clean energy project he worked on with One Earth Designs in China. A solar cooker named SolSource, developed in China with local know-how as well, served to remind that while current advancements in technology are often beyond the reach of many, these are part of an emerging philosophy of a social, environmental and financial support system which merges ideals of people, planet and profits.

Currently at KLL, Chris and Sumier are working to make the UNDP/NPC Human Development Report data more accessible to citizens and NGOs for both mobile and web interfaces – in summary, a UX Design for the Nepal Human Development Index jointly produced by the United Nations and the National Planning Commission of Nepal. Key data elements from within the HDI that are part of the UXD include health, income and education indicators such as adult literacy, life expectancy and per capita income.
The KLL team working with the Googlers on the NPC Project are particularly motivated by its scalable, modular and visual aspects. Aakash Sigdel is a Front-end Developer at KLL and has majored in Computer Science and Engineering from Moti Lal Nehru National Institute of Technology in Allahabad. Pratik Gautam is a GIS and Front-end Developer and Designer at KLL and has majored in Civil Engineering from the Institute of Engineering, Pulchowk Campus.

Translating and visualizing Nepal Human Development Data, collected via the Central Bureau of Statistics, onto a mobile-friendly interface which will be embedded in the NPC website is a system architecture collaboration with Google that has virtually no precedent here. Large volumes of information from UNDP/NPC Reports are currently being designed at KLL, location and sector wise, for searchable usability and accessibility – with maps, colours for comparative analyses, charts, search functions, filters and a responsive visual standard, this is a conceptual design exemplar.

According to the Googlers, the UX design, techniques and code generated at KLL can also be re-used as a data framework and model for other data visualization projects. This would mean opening up data in other sectors in Nepal such as infrastructure and transportation. Chris is keen to see the tourism sector in Nepal become more data savvy with accurate and relevant information readily available in support of both a steady influx and sustainable growth.

In post-quake Kathmandu, Sumier sees a viable drive to create start-ups that solve critical problems and challenges facing the rebuilding and recovery processes. Technology functioned as a vital tool and enabler during the emergency relief efforts in Nepal and remains very relevant for coordination among citizens, sectors and agencies. In terms of gaps and issues, Chris further opines that the role of technology in Nepal extends to economic growth as well whereby Kathmandu’s budding start-up community could lead the shift towards an open, innovation-based, entrepreneurial economy. Kathmandu’s entrepreneurs and ideators could shape the process and leverage the design for change and problem-solving idiom. Taking Quakemap’s example, Sumier also brings in the crowd-sourcing dynamic that is fundamental to solutions-based coordination among NGOs and civil society for post-disaster assistance and resilience.

Kathmandu Living Labs is a non-profit technology solutions organization harnessing local knowledge in support of an Open Data ecosystem in Nepal. Part of a growing, global OSM Community, KLL works towards the successful implementation of Open Data platforms, practices and methodologies that help solve day-to-day civic issues. With significant experience and outreach in many parts of Nepal and a diverse range of organizations, KLL was at the forefront of disaster information management during and after the Nepal earthquake of April 25, 2015.

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When Map Makers are ousted out of the map…

Last two months following the April 25 quake have been tumultuous, no doubt. The massive quake that left thousands of people homeless did not spare Kathmandu Living Labs either. The place that had been KLL’s home since its inception was rendered uninhabitable. During the first month after the quake, KLL was operating from the remainder of what used to be its building and from the nearby Buzz Cafe. It was an emotional period when KLL, the ‘map makers’, could no longer place a finger on a map and say, “We are here.” However things have took turn for the better and finally, Kathmandu Living Labs now has moved into a new building. Kathmandu Living Labs now has finally found a place to call its home. Our special thanks to the Humanity United and to the hundreds of Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign contributors, who helped us set up our new office and got us going in no time.

KLL Housewarming Party

KLL Housewarming Party

With a roof over our heads once again, Kathmandu Living Labs also got back to its regular swing of things. First week into the new house, we successfully revived three of our cherished KLL activities.

Morning Meets – Stand up, everyone!

Each morning at 9.15 am, a KLL member starts off the day with an interesting, inspiring, stimulating morning talk – it could be on anything under the sun. To give you an idea of what that means, here is the first morning talk delivered in the new office. It was, rather unsurprisingly, related to our new office space. The gist of his talk was, “Leave the place (office) cleaner than you find it.”

If you are interested to join us for one of these morning talks, please do drop in. No need to worry if there ever won’t be enough seats because these are stand-up morning meets and noone is allowed to sit during these meets.

Friday Innovation Hour

Friday 12.30 to 13.30 is KLL’s brown-bag innovation hour, where new, unexplored and unusual ideas are encouraged to be shared over lunch. It is not limited to people within KLL; if you want to attend it either as a speaker or just participants, please contact us. The first ever KLL innovation hour took place back in September 2013. This week, KLL’s first in its new office space, was spearheaded by Prabhas Pokharel. Prabhas had been working with us as a KLL Fellow up until last Friday. He will be starting his Masters at Stanford University this fall.

Friday OpenStreetMap Clinic

OpenStreetMap clinic is a free-to-all, walk-in ‘clinic’ where experienced OpenStreetMappers from KLL answer your queries regarding OpenStreetMap. In addition, we are also happy to help you with anything that might prove to be helpful for your work.

This week’s OSM clinic visitor is Manisa Panta. A computer engineering student, she had been looking around for ways to help post-disaster efforts. Her quest took her to Story Circle that has been building temporary shelters near Khurkot in Sindhupalchowk. She decided to put her computer skills to use by helping them build a web visualization of these temporary shelters. After searching for different ways to collect geo-information, she came to know about OSMTracker which she then used to geolocate and photograph these temporary shelters. She identified OpenStreetMap as a useful tool to include such information but she was did not know how to do it. This week’s OSM clinic focussed on including such information in and on the overall process to create customized visualization using OSM as a default map. In the process, she became our first OSM Clinic visitor in the new office.

If you too have any queries regarding OpenStreetmap or if you just want to have a chat with us over a cup of coffee, please drop by in one of our Friday OSM Clinics at 13.30 (except on public holidays.)

To celebrate our getting back into the swing of things and also to celebrate our new space, we organized a small get-together event on Friday evening. The event was graced by the presence of KLL’s well-wishers. Others who could not make it to the event, we are sure, were present in spirit. This event was also KLL’s way of saying thank-you to its friends for staying with us in these trying circumstances.

KLL and friends at KLL's new office space

KLL and friends at KLL’s new office space

Following the quake, the whole nation is abuzz with the phrase, “We will rise again!” For the past two months, KLL has been making an effort to live up to this national spirit. KLL’s was toiling hard to get tents and tarps to earthquake survivors at the time when it didn’t have a proper roof over its own head. To aid relief efforts, was creating maps at the time when KLL’s own location could not be pinned down on any map.
However, at KLL we strongly opine that every crisis is an opportunity to learn; and bigger the crisis, bigger the opportunity. We took this opportunity to venture into the hitherto unchartered territory of post-earthquake relief process in Nepal. Consequently, two months later, the ‘map-makers’ are not only able to put KLL back on maps but were also able to inspire some new roadmaps in post-earthquake relief process in the world. This is just a beginning though. We are just starting to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and starting to rise again.

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Nepal Earthquake: Update from KLL Situation Room, June 1

To draw meaning from data is the ultimate goal of any data collection effort. Once meaning is drawn from data, it prompts action. Here’s where visualization of data becomes vital as visualisations readily convey the meaning hidden in data.
One such action-prompting visualization we’ve made for the earthquake response is this map at

This map shows the extent of damage, in terms of lives and homes lost, in the wake of the earthquake.
A quick glance at the map shows which areas were hardest hit and the need is more urgent.
Built on top of regularly updated data published by the Government, this map has served information needs be that coordinating satellites for imagery, or directing IDP mapping tasks.

This map has served millions of people looking for a quick overview on damage due to the earthquakes especially in its embedded form at
More recently, a district-level version of this map for Dolakha has been prepared for the district’s Development Committee. You can view the map at the District Development Committee website at

The same map is being prepared for Bhimeshwor Municipality of Dolakha, and will give a municipal-level overview and a ward-wise breakdown of the data. Stay tuned to our social media for the weblink once it gets deployed.

Featured Volunteer of the Day


Sweta Khanal

Meet Sweta Khanal, who returned from the USA a few months back, and has been volunteering for Quakemap since its first week in operation.

Who are you?
Good one. I’m still trying to figure that out. I was working as a functional analyst in US before coming back to Nepal a few months back. The idea was to explore Nepal and South Asia, while I took the time to self-reflect.

Where were you during the earthquake?
I was stopped at a red light in Gaushala, on my way back home. My first thought was that something was wrong with the car. It wasn’t until a house collapsed a few feet in front of us that I realized that the anticipated big one had struck.

Why are you here?
Even as the earthquake had reduced some of the neighborhoods I loved to rubbles, swept clean the places I adored in pictures- places I planned to trek this year, even as it had instilled intangible fear in everyone around me, I was fortunate enough that the devastation had not hit close to home; everyone I knew had come out of it unscathed. With this privilege came a sense of responsibility. I wanted to contribute in any way I could. After going to a few places to volunteer in any capacity possible, I learned about QuakeMap and I’ve stuck around ever since.

What has your experience been?
It’s been an incredible experience to be part of this team of volunteers. We’ve come a long way since the first few days, when we were just a small band of people scouring social media to find posts asking for help and entering them into our system. Now we have dedicated teams working on everything from verifying reports to routing them to responding organizations on the ground. The evolution, needless to say, has not been easy or smooth, but on the whole it’s been a rewarding experience.

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Thanks to all our supporters, who have donated and helped spread the word about our fundraising campaign. Today, we are launching a new challenge, #NamasteNepal. The challenge is:

1) Donate to help KLL sustain our efforts for Nepal
2) Take a picture of yourself doing Namaste
3) Challenge 3 friends of yours to do the same.

If you have already donated, feel free to skip to #2.

We also welcome other fundraising campaigns raising funds for Nepal to use the #NamasteNepal challenge linked to their own fundraising campaigns.

Featured Volunteer of the Day

Shitu Rajbhandari - Featured KLL VolunteerToday’s featured volunteer is Shitu RajBhandari, who has made those of us working with KLL and QuakeMap laugh and feel inspired over the last few weeks.

Who are you?

I am writer and am currently working on my first novel that is loosely based on Nepali mythology, politics and culture while exploring the concept of home. I am a writing workshop instructor and design workshop, which uses writing and the art of storytelling as a form of communication to share ideas and social issues. I am involved in a public writing project called Galli Salliharuma, which maps Kathmandu, through people’s personal narratives. I am also a freelance writing consultant and have been editing books, documents, reports and creating marketing materials for non-governmental organizations for the projects that they are involved in since I got back from the States in August 2014.

Where were you during the earthquake?

I was with thirty people at Yala Maya Kendra, Patan Dhoka as one of the participants of the Oral History Workshop organized by During the week long workshop we talked about people’s personal history and one of our point of references were historical events and their impact on the their life. Kristen Zipperer, one of the participants and I went to Chyasal in Patan on Thursday to ask people about the stories they had heard about the 1934 earthquake and how they were preparing themselves for the predicted earthquake in Kathmandu. I am still amazed by this unfortunate co-incidence.

Why are you here?

After the earthquake, like everyone else my first concern was my family. Luckily all of them, including my extended family were safe. After two days of being with them and reading the news, I began to grow restless and wanted to help beyond my home. I felt responsible to use the good fortune of being untouched by the earthquake to help those who weren’t that lucky. I am a very sensitive and emotional person by nature and I knew I would be more of a liability on the immediate rescue and relief front. I volunteered with the Yellow House’s data team for the first week and joined the Quakemap team when the teams merged. My journalistic background was put to good use here in verifying reports and trying to coordinate relief in areas of need.

What has your experience been?

It’s been a pleasure to be a part of this team of dedicated, generous and positive group of individuals. The level of self-motivation and the desire to help people they have never seen before is exemplary, especially for a thankless job as this. Quakemap has evolved over the month and so have we as a team to continue to give our support to be useful as possible in this time of need. I am very glad that I have this team and this experience as a part of my great earthquake story.

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Nepal Earthquake: Update from KLL Situation Room, May 28

Since the Great Earthquake of April 25th, KLL has been working nonstop to support relief, rescue as well as rebuilding efforts. One of those ways is to help make data collection more systematic. Today, we will share a few examples of how we have been helping collect data to facilitate reconstruction.

Cultural Sites Damage Assessment

The 25 April earthquake and the powerful aftershock of 12 May collectively damaged almost 500 monuments, more than 100 of which were completely destroyed.


Fig – Patan Durbar Square after the April 25 quake

Kathmandu Living Labs is supporting the Department of Archaeology (DoA) and UNESCO to survey cultural sites to see which of the monuments need the quickest reinforcement. This Rapid Assessment is being conducted by volunteers who are trained to collect data include type of cultural heritage, level of damage, geolocation, and photographs of damage. Volunteers are using the KLL Collect application, which is derived from the Open Source ODK Collect application. The survey was originally developed by Joy Lynn Davis from UNESCO and Miriam Pokharel-Wood, a volunteer at KLL, and has been further modified with inputs from the Department of Archaeology.

To date, more than 90 volunteers have been trained, and detailed data has been collected about almost 200 monuments. This work has also been covered in the Nepali Times and the Kathmandu Post.


Fig – KLL Collect app used for Rapid Assessment

Damage Assessment to Buildings

Thousands of buildings were destroyed by the 25 April earthquake and the following aftershocks. People were afraid to enter their house being not aware of the building condition and continuous aftershocks. Nepal Engineers’ Association (NEA) started the rapid building assessment, mobilising thousands of engineers around the kathmandu valley, collecting the building data and verifying if the house building is safe or not.


Fig – Snapshot of damaged buildings in the middle of Rapid Building Assessment

KLL also helped NEA structure this data collection on building data using the mobile app KLL Collect as well as A “mobile app clinic” trained the engineers who were volunteering to go out and assess houses. Data on approximately 1,000 buildings were collected in this pilot effort.

Crowdfunding Update

We are REALLY close to hitting the 20% mark on our Indiegogo campaign; please help us reach it!

We updated our perks today based on feedback from the crowd. Head on over to the campaign to find out more.

Featured Volunteer of the Day

Time to meet our featured volunteer of the day. Our featured volunteer for today is Upasana Chalise. Here is more from Upasana…


Upasana Chalise

Who are you?
Hello! Myself, Upasana Chalise. I am a medical microbiologist. I have recently completed my bachelor level in Medical Microbiology from Nobel College, Sinamangal, Kathmandu. My home town is Kapan, Kathmandu.

What were you doing during the earthquake?
As I am preparing for GRE course, I was reading some flash card of GRE at the moment when the devastating earthquake of 25th April occurred.

Why are you here?
As a youth it’s my responsibility to help and support my nation in such a pathetic and painful condition. After such a enormous demolishment, I was in search of a way to help. I went to Yellow house with my friends for volunteering through the advertisement shown on Himalayan television. But, we reached there late, so could not get plenty of options to choose the type of work. There were some remaining tasks written pamphlets posted on the wall. So our eyesight caught “DATA ENTRY ,, Contact SHITU: …..”. So this is how I reached buzz café.

What has your experience been?
Quakemap worked as a great platform for me to help my country in the best possible way. I enjoyed a lot working on Quakemap with my co-workers. I must say, working with KLL was a great experience. I got a chance to explore my abilities and qualities as the work was totally different to my field. In fact, I learned a lot. A bond has been created between the team members and I could hardly forget any of these moments during my lifetime.

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