Reuters AlertNet Mapping Workshop

In June, at a special Reuters AlertNet workshop, designed for (mainly UK based) humanitarian organisations, I  presented about OpenStreetMap and was on the panel for a discussion. The talk was an introduction to OSM, followed by announcement of the Africover import from DevelopmentSeed, a detailed look at Gaza and a talk about the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.

The theme of the day was “looking at how the aid world can use maps to communicate, advocate and plan for disasters.” – and was a general and gentle introduction on how geographic information, mapping and maps can help “showcase their work, advocate around areas of need and plan during emergency responses”.

Organisations such as Mines Advisory Group, UNHCR, Save the Children were present, and on the panel there was Nick McWilliam from MapAction, Vincent Casey from WaterAid, Herbert Hansen from KeyObs and me representing OpenStreetMap. Attendees could tweet us questions, and one was asked about “What moral obligations do data collectors have when they encounter human rights abuses”….The moral maze being, by keeping quiet and collecting data, the map can be completed, and possibly help those in need. By making noise, the map may not be completed and thus, less help may be applied.

The event was webcasted, and archived, and you can access it by clicking the image at the end of the post summarising the mapping workshop from AlertNet. You may need to register quickly to view the video.

Haiti

Over the Christmas period I imported the road network for Haiti – many thanks to Haiti’s CNIGS (Centre National de l’Information Géo-Spatiale) and CartONG. It has pretty much all the regular roads, but there’s still quite a bit of work to do.

haiti openstreetmap jan 2009

Late last year, we met at the GeOng conference in Chambery, organised by CartOng.  It was about the role of geodata and GIS in humanitarian work & crisis response (we also had a tiny mapping party afterwards). At the time, there were people on the ground in Haiti working to get some good quality data to share with other organisations. There were a few sources, some quite detailed, with even the little farm tracks mapped but very poor quality and inaccurate (possibly traced from un-orthorectified imagery), others were good, but were unable to be released publicly.  Bernard from CartONG was out in Haiti during and after the conference and was key in giving us the data on behalf of the Centre National de l’Information Géo-Spatiale (CNIGS).

Yahoo Imagery covers the area quite well, however the hurricane has affected the area quite considerably:

That saying, there are residential roads and tracks that can be traced.  It would be good to incorporate affected areas, which roads are closed, and which ones have been opened.  ReliefWeb has a few good resources. Interestingly, the map of road conditions highlights the types of road conditions interpreted as practical information, “4×4 can only pass over bridge, trucks have to ford river”. This is exactly the type of information that the UNSDIT seeks to make it easy to record.

Topology needs checking and validating – the original data had plenty of gaps and overhangs – roads that didn’t join up with each other properly (spent a couple of days fixing most of these). There are a few things that need to checked and correct properly.