9 Jun

State of the Map: Hack day

State of the Map

Monday, June 8th, the American Geographical Society attended the State of the Map US Hack day. AGS staff participated in the Missing Maps workshop where we worked on mapping Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Missing Maps is a project funded by the Red Cross, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), and Doctors Without Borders to create maps for vulnerable places in the developing world. Missing MapsThese maps can then be used to respond to crises affecting these areas. Geoffrey Kateregga, Leading Mapping Supervisor at HOT in Dar es Salaam, and Mark Iliffe, Geospatial Innovation Consultant at the World Bank, presented on the project Dar Ramani Huria, community mapping for flood resilience in Dar es Salaam. This city had no current and reliable maps of roads, footpaths, and buildings, which are critical infrastructures for aid respondents to navigate in the event of a flood. Dar es Salaam is a coastal city that is historically vulnerable, in the rainy season, to large scale flooding. The purpose of the mapping is to support risk awareness activities related to urban flooding, improve understanding, planning, and maintaining of an urban infrastructure, and develop capacity for risk analysis through use of InaSAFE, the on-the-ground software.  This project creates a data model for drainage, sanitation, roads, buildings, and land use. The amazing part about this project is that it brings together the community to create maps that may save lives when in a crisis.  Anyone can log onto the HOT website and choose a project to contribute to. Once they choose they will be redirected to OpenStreetMap (OSM) where you pick a square area to work on, and then digitize buildings, streets, rivers, etc. The AGS team spent the day digitizing buildings and streets in different areas around Dar es Salaam.

Another workshop that we attended was “A hands-on tour through open transit data.”  Transitland is an open-source data system that caters to both beginners and experts interested in learning Transitlandabout and contributing to an aggregated data service on transit networks. Their website features data on stops, routes, and transit operators for a variety of transit systems, including trains, buses, public bicycle programs, and ferries, and is expanding into new fields to tackle more advanced problems and questions relating to transit services. The data collection and presentation is done through community-driven work with a General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) of URLs and IDs through JSON and CSV files, with any coder given open access to the feed registry in order to add to the growing network. Transitland, however, also wants to make transit data available to the public, community groups and advocacy organizations who do not understand the complexities of code, and their Playground is where anyone can access an attractive interface featuring transit information. Currently the project consists only of data from the New York and San Francisco metropolitan areas, but Transitland hopes to expand as their network of coders grows, and the elements of the transit network they highlight continue to expand. Public transport systems are an integral part of metropolitan life, and are becoming an increasingly crucial means to reduce carbon output in the face of global climate change. An extensive and actively updated data source of transit systems, their functions, and how they overlap and interact can provide policy makers and transit users with an exceptionally useful tool to improve and utilize transit systems in the best and most efficient way possible. Transitland is helping to provide this data source, and whether you are a coding expert or just have an interest in transit you should check out their website to learn more and get involved in their important work.

The event was a blast, and it was inspirational to see so many people come together to volunteer their time to mapping these missing locations. Throughout the day there were other workshopsOpenStreetMap such as Teach OSM, Map New York City, and the Maptime Summit. There were also workshops on Exatracting data from OSM, Solving OSM Problems with Osmium, Working with OSM diffs, the State of the Stylesheets, the Overpass API,  and Geocoder-in-the-box. The day was full of open source mapping, networking, and information. If you have spare time, put it to good use and map! The link for the HOT OSM projects can be found here.

Written by Elise Mazur and Christopher Ewell, June 9th, 2015