All posts by disastermappers

Missing Maps Mapathon at Makerspace (DAI)- OSM for Malaria Elimination

Many regions of our world are not covered on a map. Maps are however an important tool for planning vaccination campaigns and for ensuring medical supplies. Places that are not covered in a map are in many cases nonexistent for authorities and other organizations. We want to change this situation – with your help- and map the vulnerable places of the world in OpenStreetMap to support the work of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) and Missing Maps. Therefore, disastermappers heidelberg / GIScience Research Group and Python Meetup Heidelberg invite you to a collaborative Missing Maps Mapathon!

When? 16.03.2017, 6 pm

Where? Makerspace (DAI), Sofienstraße 12, 69115 Heidelberg                                                   

In the Mapathon we will particularly focus on Malaria prone regions. The data we are collecting during our event will be used directly on the ground to predict the location and timing of malaria outbreaks. This will help to take measures to fight the spreading of malaria.

Rebecca Firth (HOT) will be connected to us via Skype to provide us some information about the HOT Malaria project and the use of the OpenStreetMap data on the ground.

We will moreover give an introduction into OpenStreetMap mapping, therefore there is no previous knowledge necessary. Just bring your own laptop and mouse if available.

Snacks and drinks will for sure be provided!

We are looking forward to seeing you in the Makerspace

P.S. If you want to get prepared you can already create your own OpenStreetMap-Account: and install the latest JOSM version:

Otherwise just come and join us at the Mapathon and we will provide all necessary information!


GIScience / disastermappers heidelberg in “Jetzt” magazine of Süddeutsche Zeitung

Last week we had a special guest for our New Years Mapathon: Nadja Schlüter, a journalist of the popular youth magazine “Jetzt” of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Nadja had heard about the Missing Maps related activities at our institute during an interview with MSF UK and visited us to learn more about our work and disaster mapping in general. And what better way to learn about disaster mapping than taking part in a mapathon? Read about her experiences in her article: “Heidelberger Studenten kartieren die Krisengebiete der Welt

A big thank you to all of our great supporters, we hope to see you again soon at our next mapathon!

Mapathon for MSF and the people of Aweil

We want to welcome the year 2017 with a mapathon for MSF and the people of Aweil!

When: 19.01.2017, 18:00
Where: Hörsaal, Berliner Straße 48

This time we will focus on Aweil, the capital of South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal State. The region is home to tens of thousands of people, many of whom live on the city’s largely unmapped outskirts.

msf_bild_aweil2Aweil, South Sudan. © Adriane Ohanesian/MSF

MSF is active in Aweil since 2008, when the organization took over important medical services. Nowadays MSF teams are mapping villages and their names on the ground. With your help, this can be supported by digitizing settlements and buildings from aerial imagery. Mapping the buildings then helps to estimate the population of the individual villages and is important for MSF to identify areas of highest need.

More information will be reported at the beginning of the mapping event. We also have the chance to learn more about the project from the project management via Skype. Jan Böhm from MSF CZ will give us a more detailed introduction into the field work of MSF in Aweil.  The detailed guidance of mapping in OpenStreetMap will be explained as usual.

jan_böhm.jpgSkype talk by Jan Böhm (MSF CZ)

We are looking forward to your join! Pre-knowledge is not necessary. Just bring your laptop and mouse if available!


Christmas Mapping Party Results

On Thursday, 08.12.2016, a Christmas mapping party took place at the Geographical Institute of Heidelberg University. Karakol, a city in the Kyrgyz Republic was herein mapped in cooperation with the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ-Potsdam).

Supported by the World Bank, the Bishkek-based Central Asian Institute of Applied Science (CAIAG) and the GFZ Potsdam are undertaking a nationwide seismic risk assessment study for the region. For this, OSM data of buildings and infrastructure are needed.

The event started with a short introduction of the GFZ project, followed by a detailed description of the project via Skype by Dr. Massimiliano Pittore, who is coordinating the project. For new participants, an introduction in the offline editor JOSM was held.

In the process of this mapathon, buildings and infrastructure in Karakol were digitized. The map below shows the results of about 3 hours of intensive mapping. Together we added more than 1913 polygons (most of these show buildings or landuse residential areas), 237 lines (e.g. tagged with highway = residential) and 888 POIs (in many cases these points represent building nodes, for which the location was adjusted). In the following days we will have a closer look at the data and validate our contributions.

Click on the map and have a closer look at the data yourself.


We would like to thank everyone for the great support and hope to see you again next year at one of our mapathons.


PS: HOT task “#1235 – Kyrgyz Republic – Exposure Mapping for Seismic Risk Assessment” is currently at 84%. We would be happy to see this number coming close to 100% by end of the year.



disastermappers and GIScience Research Group support for Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team Fundraising Campaign

One main focus of the GIScience Research Group is the research and education with respect to advancing methods, technologies and applications of Volunteered Geographic Information – in particular OpenStreetMap – for applications from logistics to humanitarian aid. In this vein, the group has been also been supporting the work of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap (HOT) team for several years with OSM and disaster related research and applications as well as by organizing mapping events.

These activities also led to the launch of the disastermappers heidelberg which are organizing mapping events, webinars and workshops in close relationship with the HOT team to enable students and researchers to learn more about OpenStreetMap, possible applications of the OSM data and the work of HOT.

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team coordinates an international mapping community with which they map the vulnerable and disaster prone places in our world. Moreover, it supports local mapping communities to enable local development and disaster preparedness. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team and the international contributors thereby fill gaps in the worldwide OpenStreetMap and create a valuable data treasure.

Building on these previous activities, the GIScience and disastermappers are happy to now support the yearly fundraising campaign of the HOT team. The focus hereby being on micro-grants which will allow to spark and support international local HOT/ OSM community-led projects. Thereby more communities and volunteers will have the chance to become part of this community and benefit of the OSM data for their local needs.

Sounds interesting? If you want to learn more about the campaign and how to support, please visit:

or join us in todays HOT Christmas Mapping Event, starting at 6 pm in the Geographical Institute!

2016 social media mapthedifference (1).jpg

Christmas Mapping event to support Earthquake management in Kyrgyzstan

Dear Mapping Enthusiasts,

in the upcoming week we want to invite you to our last Mapathon of the year 2016!

When: 08.12.2016, 18:00

Where: Hörsaal, Berliner Straße 48

In this mapping event we will map buildings and other infrastructures in Karakol, the fourth largest city in Kyrgyzstan, which is located in a seismically active area of Tian Shan.

To develop an earthquake monitoring network in this area, the German Research Centre for Geoscience (GFZ) is involved in the construction of earthquake early warning systems (EEWS), which are considered to be an effective, pragmatic and viable tool for seismic risk reduction in cities. Therefore the locations of population and infrastructures are of great importance for the site selection for EEWS to achieve efficiency in on-site earthquake warning and rapid response.

More information about this project will be provided at the beginning of the mapping event in an online Skype talk by Massimiliano Pittore of the GFZ Potsdam.

A detailed introduction into mapping in OpenStreetMap will be provided afterwards to enable everyone to take part and learn more about crisis mapping- therefore there is no previous knowledge needed, just bring your laptop and mouse if available!

To get you into the right christmas mood, we will also provide Glühwein, christmas snacks and soft drinks!

We are looking forward to seeing you on thursday!

OSM GeoWeek contributions from Heidelberg to support climate change preparedness programs

In the context of the international OpenStreetMap Geography Awareness Week,  last Thursay, 17th November 2016, another mapping event was organized at the Geographical Institute of Heidelberg University. Sava, a region in the north of Madagascar, was herein mapped in cooperation with Missing Maps and the French NGO CartONG.

Madagascar is as one of the poorest countries in the world with more than 92% of the population living with an income under 2$ a day. It is also one of the most vulnerable countries regarding climate change. Especially Sava has to deal with an increase in storms and the disappearing of mangrove forests which formed a natural barrier against storms and cyclones.

Having a better and global understanding of the location of the population as well as its accessibility is crucial for NGOs and local actors to prepare emergency management programs. In this vein, CartONG started a project to enable mapping the most vulnerable parts of the island. For more information see task description here.

The event started with a small introduction to the OSM GeoWeek, followed by a project overview of Violaine Doutreleau of CartONG via skype. Furthermore the participants were shown the use of the offline editor JOSM for the digitization of the OpenStreetMap data.


In the process of this mapathon buildings were digitized on the basis of MapSwipe data. The MapSwipe app was developed by the GIScience Group/ disastermappers heidelberg and the Missing Maps Project to enable the classification of populated areas on the basis of satellite imagery. That way, settlement areas can already be detected before the “mapping” and thus the search for buildings shortens, with only tiles containing buildings becoming part of the digitization tasks.

In only a few hours two complete tasks in the HOT OSM Tasking Manager created by CartONG on the basis of MapSwipe data were mapped by the Heidelberg volunteers!


A big thank you to all participants! We hope to see you soon at our next event!

Integrating MapSwipe and HOT Tasking Manager – First Task Online!

The MapSwipe app allows you to mark buildings and roads on satellite imagery within
just a few seconds by tapping on your smartphone. Thousands of volunteers contributed to MapSwipe so far and it is just incredible how big the areas are that have been scanned. Nevertheless, classifying satellite imagery cannot replace the “traditional” mapping process.
The information on settlements or highways provides the most value to everyone if it is present in the OpenStreetMap database. Consequently, we need a smooth way to integrate the MapSwipe data into the OSM Mapping workflow using the HOT Tasking Manager.

The GIScience Research Group and the disatermappers heidelberg are happy to show a
workflow that allows the frictionless integration of crowdsourced image classification
for the HOT Tasks generation. As the MapSwipe data already indicates where mapping is
needed, we can use the information to define the areas of interest, that will represent
the single mapping tasks in the HOT Tasking Manager. This approach also follows the
Heidelberg Process“, which aims to break down mapping into single subtasks, which are
based upon each other.

There are three steps conducted that are displayed below:

1. Get MapSwipe raw data and select “credible” tiles with features

2. Aggregate results

3. Split aggregated results to ares that are ready to use in the Tasking Manager


We set up a gitlab with scripts for downloading and processing MapSwipe raw data [Check it out here].

In addition we provide downloaded and processed data via cloud storage (updated 48h) [Get the data here].

The processed, “final” data is in shapefile format. Before creating a HOT TM project out of it two steps are important.
First, get relevant data by clipping the respective mapswipe project with a geometry of your desired region (e.g. administrative boundaries). The extent of MapSwipe projects are very huge, better not use it as a whole HOT TM project. That step is very simple with QGIS, just load the “final_<projectNR>.shp” and your region of interest in and use Vector>>Geoprocessing Tools>>Clip. Now you got your tasks ready for create the HOT TM project. Upload it and don’t forget to click on “arbitrary polygons”.
The project is created, editing in ID works fine but theres one last thing missing. Because of the arbitrary polygons, mappers who don’t use ID will not see the boundary of their task when editing. It’s therefore likely that some of the mappers will map objects which are located in another task. To solve this issue, you just need to provide a .gpx file containing the shapes of the tasks.
In QGIS run Vector>>Geometry Tools>>Polygons to Lines and use your clipped shapefile as input. The output file fulfills all requirements to be saved as .gpx. Upload this file to a accessible storage like dropbox or gdrive and copy the link for download in the instructions tab of your HOT project. Be sure that everyone who want to contribute will be aware that this file is needed as additional layer in their editor!

We set up the first HOT Mapping Task that uses the MapSwipe data for MSF in Madagascar.
Given the information from MapSwipe, OSM mappers can now focus on the areas that are populated and don’t have to spend valuable time scanning unpopulated areas and areas with poor imagery. Doing so, mapping becomes even more fun. 😉

Interested to try this process yourself and to learn more about MapSwipe, Mapping and the MSF activation in Madagascar? Then join us for our OSMGeoWeek Missing Maps Mapathon for Madagascar tomorrow, 17th November from 6pm in the lecture hall, Berliner Straße 48.

No previous knowledge necessary, just bring your own laptop and a mouse if available!

OSM GeoWeek MissingMaps Mapping Event for Madagascar

Dear Mapping Enthusiasts,

Nov 13-19th is the international OpenStreetMap GeoWeek. In this scope the disastermappers/ GIScience Group wants to invite you to a special Mapathon to start the new semester.

When: 17.11.2016, 6 pm

Where: Hörsaal, Berliner Straße 48

The MissingMaps event will be organized in collaboration with another one of the partner organizations of the MissingMaps project, the French based NGO CartONG. CartONG is currently conducting Mapping projects in Madagascar in cooperation with MissingMaps.

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world with more than 92% of the population living under 2 dollars a day. As one of the most vulnerable countries regarding the global warming (behind Haiti and Bangladesh), Madagascar moreover gathers climatic imbalances. Sava region in the North of the island particularly suffers from storms intensification and disappearance of mangrove, which are natural barriers against storms and cyclona. Having a better and global understanding of the location of the population and its accessibility is crucial for NGOs and local actors to prepare risk reduction programs.

We would like to support these efforts with our Mapping Event!

The event will start with an introduction into the project by Violaine Doutreleau of CartONG who will be connected to us via Skype! Afterwards we will provide a short introduction into mapping in OpenStreetMap before the mapping sessions begin.

We will as usual provide snacks, drinks and nice after work sound 🙂

We are looking forward to a large crowd, no previous knowledge needed.

Just bring your laptop and mouse if available!







HOT Summit videos are online

The presentations of this years HOT summit that was held in Brussels (September 22, 2016) were recorded and are now available in the Youtube channel of HOT.

If you missed the summit and are interested in what we are doing, have a look at the video of the joint presentation with Pete Masters (MSF) on “MapSwipe and Pybossa. Further exploration in the power of crowds”.


But, please also have a look at the many other really interesting talks. HOT Youtube channel