MapSwipe Live – View the latest contributions

Many people asked us, whether it would be possible to see their own contributions to MapSwipe on the map. Therefore, in the last few days we worked on a small project to extend our MapSwipe Analytics page.

The new “Live View” shows the latest contributions from the MapSwipe volunteers and functions similar to the show-me-the-way tool, which shows the latest edits in the OpenStreetMap database. The new tool can be used during mapathon to foster the motivation of the volunteers, but also to discuss the individual results. Or just let it run and have a look at the great efforts of the MapSwipe volunteers.


This work is generously supported through core funding from the Klaus Tschira Foundation Heidelberg for establishing HeiGIT.


Missing Maps Data Collection and Validation Mapathon to help eliminate Malaria

Malaria is a major threat to people all around the world, particularly those most vulnerable: children and elderly. Our previous events Semester Start Missing Maps mapathon for World Malaria Day 2017 and Missing Maps Mapathon at Makerspace (DAI) aimed to support projects to identify potential malaria affected areas and enable better Malaria prevention in collaboration with Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and Missing Maps.

How? Means to combat Malaria are provided by creating openly available map data. We do our part by providing and assessing basic map data to support the current Malaria initiatives and our common goal, to support those in need.

Therefore, disastermappers heidelberg and HeiGIT/GIScience Research Group invite you to a Missing Maps Mapathon! In contrast to previous events, this time you will not only learn about OSM and how to contribute, but also get familiar with OSM data validation.

Why?  The value of OSM data increases when it is reviewed and lessons learned are ultimately applied. Accurate maps can then help to decrease uncertainties and enable confident use of the data by the field teams that need data to fight the spread of malaria.

When?     Wednesday 05.07.2017, 6 pm

Where?     Großer Hörsaal, Geographisches Institut, Berliner Straße 48

We will provide an introduction to OpenStreetMap mapping. Additionally, an introduction into validation of OpenStreetMap data in the Tasking Manager is offered via Skype by one of the main validators of HOT/ Missing Maps London.

Therefore, no previous knowledge is necessary. Just bring your own laptop and mouse if available.

Snacks and drinks will for sure be provided! And guess what: to round up the  Mapathon we will moreover fire up the BBQ for you! Therefore make sure to bring your ribs or veggies along 🙂


Mapathon – Help to analyze Open Street Map land use quality

Knowledge of land use dynamics is essential for a permanent human existence on earth, for instance due to changing climate. Various commercial and scientific products depicting our habitat exist, involving heavy production cost, questionable accuracies and inadequate update cycles. To this end, utilized Open Street Map (OSM) to generate planetary available land use data.

However a map is not completed until its accuracy was assessed. Here, our colleagues from the GIScience Research Group happily invite you to a validation Mapathon of OSM land use data to elevate its use for greater purpose. Activity involves inspection of remote sensing data and estimation of land use.

When: Thursday, 29.06.2017, 6 pm
Where: PC-labs, Berliner Straße 48, Heidelberg

Bring along:

  • yourself
  • computers are provided, usage of own laptop is encouraged
  • snacks and drinks are provided


New Disaster OpenRouteService release

Recently our HeiGIT team @ GIScience (Heidelberg University) developed a new disaster version of OpenRouteService (ORS) to support humanitarian logistics and to enable making use of OSM data for disaster routing purposes in a more sustainable way.

Since 2008, the OpenRouteService had been applied for specific disaster cases for Haiti in 2008 and 2010, Nepal in 2015 and Ecuador in 2016.

In order to provide this tool in a permanent manner and with most recent data, the routing and disaster mapping team at HeiGIT jointly developed this new dedicated disaster ORS:

Besides the ability to navigate on daily updated OSM data, our service provides an accessibility analysis service, an interactive avoid area tool, and allows the export of GPS tracks. In addition to the usage via the web application the API endpoint can also be integrated in dedicated applications (e.g. QGIS Plugins) etc.

Check here for more information and please feel free to contact Luisa Griesbaum ( for further information and feedback.


“How to handle OpenStreetMap data” workshop

OpenStreetMap has become a huge source for any kind of geographic information. In OpenStreetMap you now find not only street information, but also information related to buildings, shops, sights and in Heidelberg even to individual trees.

Furthermore, OpenStreetMap data is open data – everyone is free to edit and to download the data to create own maps and analysis. In our workshop we want to explore this potential together with you.

When: Thursday, 18.05.2017, 6 pm
Where: PC-labs + Seminarraum, Berliner Straße 48, Heidelberg

Depending on you pre-knowledge, we plan to have different groups. Please sign up using this link until wednesday (17.05.):


  • no/ little knowledge about OpenStreetMap and GIS
  • download and visualize OSM data in ArcGIS or QGIS
  • easy queries and styling


  • some knowledge and experience with OSM data
  • select and export only specific OSM objects
  • queries related to different timestamps, users and other parameters


  • already good experience with OSM data and keen to analyse “big data”
  • store OSM data in a database
  • advanced queries for large regions containing many objects


See you soon,
your disastermappers

PS: We booked the PC-labs, however it may be worth to bring the own laptop.

GIScience/ disastermappers support for German Red Cross

Following the example of the British, American and Netherland Red Cross, who are as the GIScience Research Group Heidelberg / disastermappers all members of Missing Maps and have been collaborating with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) and our research group for a couple of years, the German Red Cross (GRC) organized their first Mapathon in Berlin beginning of April. Melanie Eckle (HeiGIT/ HOT Board/ disastermappers) was invited to support the event that was held in scope of the Volunteer`s Day of DHL to introduce and provide an overview of disastermapping.


Due to the success of this event and in order to expand this initial experience and approach, Melanie Eckle and Luisa Griesbaum (HeiGIT/ disastermappers) are invited to Berlin again for the World Red Cross Day 2017 coming Monday. GRC members will have the chance to participate in the first internal GRC Mapathon and to learn more about the potential and the impact of mapping, HOT and Missing Maps, as well the work of our research group.

Semester Start mapathon coverage in SWR aktuell

A big thank you to all the mappers that supported the fight against Malaria in our Semester Start Mapathon yesterday!

In three hours, buildings in an area of around 400 km² were mapped that can now be covered in the Clinton Health Access Initiave Malaria program.

Moreover, a TV team of SWR was visiting the event to learn more about disastermapping and the work of disastermappers heidelberg/ GIScience Research Group.

Therefore, all of you that were not able to participate still have the chance to get an overview of our work and yesterdays event in the TV broadcast about the mapathon here: SWR Mediathek (minute 14:40)

Selection_025    DSC01843

Disastermappers/GIScience in Radio Program “Early Bird”

Last week, Melanie Eckle of the disastermappers heidelberg/disaster mapping and management department (HeiGIT) was invited to do an interview in the radio program “Early bird” of Deutschland Radio Wissen. She provided an overview of the use of OpenStreetMap for disaster management and humanitarian aid and the work of the GIScience Research Group, disastermappers heidelberg, Missing Maps and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. Moreover, listeners had the chance to learn the most important things about mapathons. The full interview is available here (in German):

Sounds interesting? If you would like to find out more and become active yourself please feel free to join our Semester Start mapathon coming Thursday!

Semester Start Missing Maps mapathon for World Malaria Day 2017

Every year, 400 000 people – especially children- die of Malaria, an actually curable disease. The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) is working with governments worldwide to prevent, heal and control malaria (

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 humanitarian aid organizations like Doctors without borders or the Red Cross.

Therefore, disastermappers heidelberg and HeiGIT/GIScience Research Group invite you to a Semester Start Missing Maps Mapathon!

When? 27.04.2017, 6 pm

Where? Geographisches Institut, Berliner Straße 48

April 25th being the official World Malaria Day, in the Mapathon we will specifically focus on a task of the Malaria Elimination Campaign of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Teams that is located in Zimbabwe. The information we are collecting during our event will be used directly on the ground to take measures to fight the spreading of malaria.

A member of the Clinton Health Access Initiative’s malaria program, Katelyn Woolheater, will be connected to us via Skype to provide 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!

10 Million Contributions: It’s time for MapSwipe Analytics!

The MapSwipe App is widely used by many volunteers who donate their time and brain capacity to find buildings or roads on satellite imagery. Just recently we counted the 10,000,000th contribution! After only 6 months since MapSwipe was launched!
The outcome of these efforts are mainly used by humanitarian organisations like MSF, Netherlands Red Cross or CartONG to create HOT Tasking Manager tasks. Recently we have been busy to reveal the power of the data produced. For doing so we focus on several projects:

1. MapSwipe Analytics website:

MapSwipe Analytics is a website that brings together everything related to MapSwipe projects. This includes a visualisation of the results (e.g. settlement layer), but also additional characteristics like agreement among volunteers, which is an important indicator for quality. Furthermore, you can monitor the progress of individual MapSwipe projects.

The map view for all projects:

The detailed “analytics” view:


Please note that we are still in the beta mode. We are working on improving the design as well as the analytical features. Your feedback is always welcome. Just post an issue to our GitLab repository:

Since, at least three different people work on every MapSwipe tile (that are the little squares) further aggregation of the answers of one tile is needed. But also adjacent tiles marked with the same answer need to be put together. We need to filter out unreliable answers and finally derive geometries that are ready to use in the HOT Tasking Manager. Since, one main goal of MapSwipe is to support the OSM Mapping using the HOT Tasking Manager, we improved our algorithms to minimize the number of tasks and overall area, but still maintain high accuracy.

We provide you with the tools (written in python) to process the data on your own. This gives you the possibility to download and process MapSwipe data at any time and as often as you like. As we are trying to improve the scripts step by step, have a look at the GitLab repo and always get the latest version.

Left: The “old” algorithm derives larger polygons, which tend to be too small or too thin. Right: Using the “new” algorithm the polygons produces polygons that suit better for the OSM mapping.

3. MapSwipe Data Repository:

Sometimes it is not handy or possible to process data on your own. That’s the reason we created the MapSwipe Data repository, where you can just download the processed data from our server. We will update the data every 12 hours. If you cannot wait that long, have a look at the previous section.

The data comes in various categories. The most important ones are shown on the map:

aggregation –> settlement layer
bad_image –> cloud Layer
final –> Tasking Manager task geometries


4. Research Activities:

Besides the development of tools and websites we are also digging deeper into the relationship between data quality and intrinsic characteristics of the MapSwipe data.
Our short paper “Towards evaluating the mobile crowdsourcing of geographic information about human settlements” was accepted for the AGILE conference 2017. Our study identifies several factors that may cause disagreement between volunteers (e.g. bad imagery, dependence on individual users) and thus reduce the reliability of the information they produce. However, such disagreement cases appear not to be random. Their spatially clustered distribution suggests that they are systematically caused by underlying factors.

The insights of this initial study may be used to indicate which types of classification tasks are not well understood by volunteers and tell us where to improve the MapSwipe App.

Herfort, B., Reinmuth, M., Porto de Albuquerque M.J. and Zipf, A. (2017): Towards evaluating the mobile crowdsourcing of geographic information about human settlements. AGILE 2017 International Conference on Geographic Information Science. Wageningen. NL. (accepted).

As this is very much work in progress, stay tuned for more!

PS: You don’t have the MapSwipe App? Get it here:

This work has kindly been supported by the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg though the core-funding for HeiGIT (Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology).