Monthly Archives: November 2014

1,000,000,000 ways to handle OpenStreetMap data

Again, we want to send a warm „Thank you!” to everyone who participated in the workshops last Wednesday. It was quite impressive for us, how many of you took the chance to explore some of the 1,000,000,000 possible (and maybe sometimes still impossible) ways to handle OpenStreetMap data.

In the beginners workshop more than 25 people learned the basics of OpenStreetMap, how to download preprocessed OpenStreeMap data from the website Geofabrik and how to visualize the data using GIS software. A lot of them stayed even longer and helped to complete the mapping task for the Missing Maps Project we started 3 weeks ago.

In the intermediate workshop, we welcomed everyone who already had some experience with OpenStreetMap and GIS software in general. In this workshop we gave a presentation about some of the websites and tools beside Geofabrik, such as overpass-turbo, weogeo, bbbike, the OpenStreetMap Plugin for QGIS and for ArcGIS. After that everyone had the possibility to test the tools by himself. We documented our experiences with the different tools on a new page at our website. Just navigate to the “But how…” page and you will get the information. And don’t hesitate to insert your personal experiences.

The workshop for professionals was held by Christopher Barron, who is a formerly student of the Heidelberg University and dedicated OpenStreetMap expert. In spite of a few technical issues in the beginning, and thanks to the great motivation of Christopher and the 10 participants, this workshop turned out in success as well. Based on Christopher’s efforts, exporting data from OpenStreetMap directly into a postgreSQL database and starting own analysis, shouldn’t be a problem for the “professionals” anymore. 😉

We hope you enjoyed the workshops as much as we did and hope to see you again. Maybe next Wednesday (3rd December) for the “OpenStreetMap und Wheelmap Mapping Party” or the Wednesday after that (10th December) at the Disastermappers Kolloquium.



Kate Chapman (HOT OSM) – “VGI in Humanitarian Aid”

After a great Mapping Party for the Missing Maps project, we were very happy to already have prepared another highlight for the next disastermappers colloquium: last wednesday Kate Chapman, the Executive Director of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) was giving a live lecture to the interested audience. Since many years Kate is an active member in the international humanitarian aid community and involved in huge relief and recovery campaigns such as during and in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti 2010 or the Typhoon Haiyan at the Philippines last year.
In her lecture, Kate covered many interesting and up-to-date issues concerning interplay between the professional humanitarian community and the volunteer digital humanitarian community.
At first Kate hold a short introductory speech about OSM and HOT in the humanitarian aid and the idea of the Missing Maps Project.
Then, she talked about her work with HOT, especially her experience and successes in disaster risk management in Indonesia. In a collaboration with national, international, governmental and non-governmental actors HOT contributed to the development of the OpenSource Software InaSAFE, a GIS application for a simple modelling of natural hazard impact scenarios.
At the end of the session, we came to the question which could be of specific interest for geography students who want to work in the field of disaster management or humanitarian help: “How did you get there?”
So Kate gave us a small insight in her own biography: by profession she is a geographer, but what actually brought her to HOT was being a passionate mapping-enthusiast – just like us 🙂
With this encouragement directly from one of the key actors in the humanitarian mapping environment, we want to become more active and we will have a brainstorming session next week Wednesday on how to get further involved.IMAG2559

London – Washington D.C. – Jakarta – San Francisco – Heidelberg?!

Putting the world’s most vulnerable people on a map and thereby reduce the vulnerability of disaster prone regions before they can even cause serious harm  – that is the objective of the MissingMaps Project. A great idea put together by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), British and American Red Cross and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team (HOT).
We are very happy that numerous students of the Heidelberg University as well as volunteers of the local OpenStreetMap community shared this opinion and decided to start the weekend with a special kind of mapping party that was not only fun, but will also help people in the most vulnerable places. Doing so we alltogether contributed to the MissingMaps Project launch in London directly from Heidelberg – and joined other volunteers from all over the world.
After Pete Masters (MSF UK), Jorieke Vyncke (HOT), Chris Grundy (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), Ivan Gayton (MSF UK) and Andrew Braye (British Red Cross) gave a short introduction on the project and welcomed all international volunteers via live stream, we started filling in the gaps on the OSM world map. Diligently the volunteers mapped, socialized and helped each other to complete the tasks prepared by the MissingMaps team. The goal of the mapping party was to create maps of different regions in South Sudan, in the Central African Republic (CAR) as well as in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to facilitate the work of MSF and to support different Health Care Projects and emergency mortality and nutrition assessments in these places.  Another example on how maps can save lives.
We want to thank all of you for your amazing support. All in all about 230 people (more than 30 from Heidelberg!) contributed to the project so far and made roughly 200,000 map changes. GREAT JOB!
For everyone further interested in the MissingMaps Project and in the work of the HOT team in particular we organize another special event:
Coming wednesday (12th November, 4pm, Berliner Straße 48, Heidelberg) Kate Chapman, Executive Director at the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, will give you an insight into the work of HOT and present more ways on how to become active in the Disastermapping Community!
Save your seat, we expect a large crowd. 🙂 

“Maps can save lives!” – “Really?!” – disastermappers kolloquium kickoff event

After this Wednesday’s successful launch event for the upcoming disastermappers colloquium, we want to thank the numerous participants who found their way to the lecture hall of the Department of Geography on Berliner Straße in Heidelberg. Coming together with old and new acquaintances, mingling up, chatting, emptying the snack bar, filling up the room, listening with interest, and sharing and exchanging ideas were only a few of the achievements of the afternoon.

To kick things off we had a warm welcome by Svend-Jonas Schellhorn, introducing the disastermappers’ vision and activities. The key note speech titled “Maps can save lives! – Really!?” was then held by Prof. João Porto de Albuquerque. He once again emphasized the potential of crowd-driven approaches in disaster risk management, such as the use of social media, citizens as sensors and, of course, crowd-based map services.

At the end of his speech Prof. João Porto de Albuquerque then raised the fundamental question “.. but how?”. How to contribute? How to sustain the mapping hype? How to improve the available methods and techniques? How to get involved in the community? Well as it happens, there are plenty of opportunities to do so, to get involved, right here in Heidelberg, making use of available connections, synergies and associated spillover effects. As disastermappers, we now want to provide this kind of platform for all interested, innovative and motivated volunteers and to carry on with the success story of the disastermappers by joining the launch of the “Missing Maps Project” and hosting a mapping party next week Friday (7th November) here in Heidelberg, where everyone is warmly invited! So save the date and be part of it!

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