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



Exploring the Missing Maps Project – Tasking Manager statistics

The HOT Tasking Manager is the tool where most of the work of the Missing Maps community and members happens. The projects created tell us a lot about the current mapping efforts and also show where we already succesfully mapped basic infrastructures like roads and human settlements. New tools like OSM Analytics already try to find ways to visualize how the OpenStreetMap changed over time. Nevertheless, we still don’t have a map of all Missing Maps projects! We think, that it is time to change this. That’s why we had a closer look at the HOT Tasking Manager and extracted all the information related to the Missing Maps project.


Overall, there are 268 projects in the Tasking Manager which have “Missing Maps” in their name. Most of these projects are located in Africa, but there is also a considerable number in Carribean and South Asian countries like Honduras, Haiti or Bangladesh. And believe it or not, there is even a Missing Maps Tasking Manager project in Japan (#1699).


When looking at the number of projects created per month, this leads to encouraging results. Since the first Missing Maps project created in November 2014, projects are constantly created. In terms of projects created 2016 was definitely a phenomenal year for the Missing Maps project. In march 2016 35 projects were created, most of them by the American Red Cross. In collaboration with Red Cross partners in the Bahamas, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru these projects addressed local hazards and vulnerabilities in dozens of disaster-prone communities. The “Map South Kivu” project led by MSF is one of the projects, where projects were created over a longer time period (more than 12 month and there is still a lot to map!). By now, 18 projects has been created to map this part of DRC that, for decades, has faced unceasing humanitarian crises.

Most of the projects (70%) are completely mapped. Nevertheless, progress is still needed regarding the validation of the contributed map data. Only half of the projects which are completed are also validated to more than 95%. This underlines, how important it is to encourage the mappers of today to become the validators of tomorrow.

Want to have a look at the map yourself? We created a uMap for you:


PS: Further information regarding the Missing Maps projects can also be found at the GIScience news blog.



Semester closing Mapathon and talk by Kerstin Meyer on the use of OSM data in Togo

Dear Mapping-Enthusiasts,

before the start of the semester break, we would like to take the chance to round the semester up with a “SPECIAL” Mapping event.

Many of you have supported the Mapping for Togo during our last Mapathon or/ and the GIS tutorial. This data was collected for the use by the local authorities in Sokode.

In this event you can learn more about the use of this data and the further OpenStreetMap activities in Togo. Kerstin Meyer of the TU Kaiserslautern will be joining us to present her work regarding the use of OpenSource Geospatial Technology in Togo with focus on OSM. She was working with the local authorities in Togo, organized mapathons and mapping trainings and was moreover out in the field to validate and add information to the data we and other mappers provided.

WHEN: Tuesday, 6 pm

WHERE: Hörsaal, Berliner Straße 48

Kerstin will open up the event with a presentation, then we will have the rest of the evening to discuss, map and to also test the new MapSwipe App- an app we developed in cooperation with MissingMaps and which is now available in the Play and App Store! For more information also see: http://mapswipe.org/

We are looking forward to seeing you all on tuesday,

the disastermappers

P.S. Please bring your own laptop and mouse (for the mapping) and a smartphone and tablet (for MapSwipe) if available 🙂





Mapping Sokodé-Report of our latest mapathon

Beginning of June students of the “Citizens as sensors” seminar organized a Mapping event to support local authorities in Sokodé. Please find their short feedback below:

Am 08. Juni 2016 war es wieder soweit! Im Rahmen des „Citizens as Sensors“ Seminar in Kooperation mit Missing Maps und den lokalen Behörden in Sokodé sowie der TU Kaiserslautern wurde eine Mapping Aktion am Geographischen Institut der Universität Heidelberg für die Region Sokodé gestartet.

Sokodé ist die zweitgrößte Stadt in Togo und umfasst ca. 120.000 Einwohner. Auch Sokodé ist vom sogenannten „urban sprawl“ betroffen, worunter hinsichtlich der erhöhten Urbanisierungsrate eine ungeregelte Ausbreitung des Stadtgebietes zu beobachten ist. Das Ziel beim Mapping Event lag vor allem darin, digitales Kartenmaterial mit freiwilligen Teilnehmern/innen für die Raum- und Stadtplanung in Sokodé zur Verfügung zu stellen.


Als Einführung wurde die Region in Togo vorgestellt, sowie eine Anleitung zum Digitalisieren in OpenStreetMap mit dem externen JOSM Editor gegeben. Mit JOSM wurden im Rahmen des Events Ausschnitte aus der Region heruntergeladen, bearbeitet, erweitert und wieder in die Datenbank hochgeladen. Der Schwerpunkt beim Digitalisieren lag vor allem auf Straßen und Gebäuden.


Um die Koordinierung beim Digitalisieren zu erleichtern, wurde die HOT Tasking Manager Applikation verwendet. Hierbei wird ein Gitternetz über das betroffene Gebiet gelegt, sodass ein Bearbeiter aus dem Gitternetz eine Kachel auswählt, sie vollständig bearbeitet und anschließend als markiert erledigt.

Als Ergebnis wurden ca. 80 % des Gebietes in Sokodé als „erledigt“ markiert. So konnten die Teilnehmer/innen an dem Abend in einer gemütlichen Atmosphäre zwischen 18.00 und 23.00 Uhr einen Beitrag dazu leisten, dass digitales Kartenmaterial für Sokodé bald von jedermann verwendet werden kann!



With one swipe and tap you put a family on the map

We are happy to announce the launch of Map Swipe – an app that allows you to support humanitarian aid by simply using your mobile.

In a disaster or humanitarian crisis, knowledge regarding the location of possibly affected and vulnerable people is crucial to provide effective support. MapSwipe allows you to map these locations using your smartphone.

Following up on the “Heidelberg Process” developed by the disastermappers heidelberg/ GIScience Research Group in collaboration with the MissingMaps team, the app enables collecting information regarding the location of residential areas using satellite imagery and a microtasking approach. The disastermappers heidelberg/ GIScience Research Group are supporting the MissingMaps project with Mapathons and by conducting research on the use of OpenStreetMap data for humanitarian aid. The app is a result of this collaboration which provides an example on how research, practice and humanitarian aid can be combined to develop more efficient workflows
(also see:

Contributors are asked to mark map tiles and to thereby provide information regarding inhabited regions. One tap hereby signifies that residential features could be identified, a second tap indicates the likeliness of features. A third tap flags tiles with bad image  quality. If no features are visible you can just swipe to the next tile and go on with the task.

The app allows you to contribute online as well as offline, using satellite imagery that can be downloaded beforehand. Therefore the app allows you to contribute from home just as easy as on the commute.
The provided information can be utilized by mappers to furthermore digitize building structures, roads and other individual features. That way base maps that support the work of MSF, the Red Cross and other organizations are developed in a collaborative workflow.

Interested in becoming active yourself?  Learn more about MapSwipe and get the app and swipe and tap away!

MapSwipe is as of now available in the Play and App Store!

Within the first three days more than 1000 people helped to classify an area bigger than Germany! Great Job!

Offenes Disastermappers Treffen: Donnerstag 17 Uhr, Café Botanik

Hallo liebe Freunde des Disastermappings,

in den letzten Monaten war wieder viel los. Wir haben gemappt für Ecuador, in Togo und an anderen Orten. Es gibt neue Tools wie die Mapswipe App und das Missing Maps Project wird immer dynamischer.

All diese Themen gilt es wieder einmal zu ordnen. Auch hat uns eine Menge Feedback zu den vergangenen Veranstaltungen und Seminaren / Vorlesungen erreicht. Dies möchten wir zum Anlass nehmen wieder etwas “offener” zu werden.

Daher laden wir alle herzlich zum offenen Disastermappers Treffen ein. Gemeinsam in einer gemütlichen Runde (vielleicht auch bei einem Bier) möchten wir daher über neue Entwicklungen und Möglichkeiten sich einzubringen diskutieren. Gleichzeitig kann das auch eine gute Geleghenheit sein, einfach mal einen ersten Eindruck vom disastermapping an sich zu bekommen.

Wann: Donnerstag, 17 Uhr
Wo: Café Botanik – Melli hat ein Missing Maps Shirt an! 😉
Wer: Alle am Thema Disastermapping, Humanitäre Hilfe, Katastrophenmanagement interessierte mit oder ohne Vorkenntnisse

Liebe Grüße und bis Donnerstag,
eure disastermappers