Monthly Archives: February 2015

disastermappers on tour- Open Data Day Mannheim 2015

The International Open Data Day is an opportunity for open data enthusiasts all around the world to meet and to exchange ideas and develop applications. Beyond this it makes people aware of the advantages OpenData can bring to our daily life and even how open data can help to save lifes… Really?! But how? We addressed this question was adressed on Friday 20th of february during a barcamp style presentation session that was organzed by the Open Data Rhein-Neckar initiative. In this event people interested in Open Data could learn more about the ways it can be used and which possibilities it offers, and for sure they could present their own ideas regarding Open Data to the public. Needless to say many great Open Data applications were presented in various talks that addressed Wheelmaps/ routing for people with special needs using OpenStreetMap (CAP4ACCESS Heidelberg University), linked data, mobililty and smart city and the internet of things. We used this chance to make people aware of the possibilities and often life saving apllications in disastermapping and presented different ways to get active. DSC_0479[1]While other presentations showed how to use Open Data, we also pointed out how the specific production of openly accessible geodata (OpenStreetMap) can be put to use in disaster. Crowdsourced and openly accessible Crisis Maps can help the humanitarian aid organizations and emergency response teams to improve their situational awareness and thus coordinate their disaster response measures. Additionally, these maps can be used by the victims themselves to communicate their needs. While these maps are often created in the aftermath of a disaster, the objective of projects like MissingMaps is, to bring vulnerable places without map material on the OpenStreetMap before the disaster hits. So what are we waiting for, lets put theory into practice. Lets fill one of the white spots on the OpenStreetMap in the Open Data Day Hacktogether!

Thus, on Saturday, the international Open Data Day, we invited all interested people to become active themselves and see how to create maps that can save lives- in a Speed Mapping Session!

The task was provided by the Missing Maps project in ccoperation with the Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF). MSF is currently assessing populations that have been displaced from their homes and livelihoods due to the devastating civil conflict that erupted in December 2013 for illnesses and malnutrition. In order to know beforehand where the populations are and how to access them map material is crucial.

See the result of our mapping here:


A big thank you to all the busy mappers for their amazing effort! And to the organizers of the Open Data Initiative Rhein-Neckar for bringing this event to Mannheim. We are already looking forward to seeing you again next year! In the meantime, if you want to get active yourself, have an interesting project idea or just want to learn more about disastermapping, don`t hesitate to contact us!

One map- one love!

From Innovations to Revolutions

What is the best way to end this exciting winter’s term disastermappers colloquium? – Right, with another highlight!

We were happy to end our first colloquium term with none other than Patrick Meier, one of the most experienced and active actors in the global disastermapping community! In an interesting talk and discussion he delivered and allowed insights in the current developments in Digital Humanitarianism and recent projects.


As a first introduction he didn’t only stress on the known advantages of VGI and CrowdSourced Data Collection for disastermanagement purposes, but also on future complementation of human and machine computing. There are already some methods like AIDR to e.g. evaluate images qualitatively to conduct damage assessment by using smart technologies and human intelligence. He also elaborated on the background techniques of these method and their implementations.

Besides the research on technical issues of diastermapping, Patrick is further involved in linking the different actors and building sustainable networks to facilitate information sharing: DigitalHumanitarians, UAViators.  Another part of Patrick’s research is concerning humans as sensors and how to use them to evaluate actual happenings in our daily environment. The idea is to crowdsource evidence collection for verification purposes in disaster situations (

All in all we got a very good insight in the current research topics concerning Digital Humanitarianism and also had the possibility to ask and discuss on various further issues.DSC_0461

We are tremendously honored to be offered a cooperation with Patrick and the Quatar Computing Research Insitute and will surely follow up on this in the near future. Thanks again to all attendants and of course to Patrick Meier for the great talk!