Monday, May 18, 2015

Mapping for Nepal

Hosting a mapathon to contribute to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team activation.

After the devastating earthquakes close to Kathmandu, Nepal, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team once again activated mappers from all over the world to create basemap data and to analyze the earthquakes' impacts.

To support the project and contribute data, we were able to host a mapathon at the Institute of Geography - University of Cologne. We invited members of the local OSM-Communities, advertised our event in the institute's mailing list and thus gathered 32 motivated mappers. 

As this mapathon was the very first at the institute and my colleague Harald Sterly and me never hosted a similar event, the planning phase became more intensive than expected. We worked out an introduction to OSM, HOT and the earthquake in Nepal and the genereal usage of the HOT Tasking Manager and OSM's iD-editor.

We chose to map for the easiest task, which meant that we mostly mapped roads, paths, buildings and waterways. The whole event took 4 hours and thanks to Pascal Neis' recently updated Changeset viewer we can follow up the achievements of the mapathon (at least for the 25 participants that used the tag #MapathonCGNGEO). 

We managed to trace 2,143 buildings and made 16,632 map changes.

Most of the participants made their first OSM edit in Nepal. I will try to write a Python script in the next couple of days to analyze how many of the participants actually continued mapping after the event. This might also be interesting for future mapathons to get information on how to motivate mapathon greenhorns to continue mapping for good. A better sample size might lead to some significant insights into the potential of mapathons.

The first event was fun and it was amazing to see the mapping heat in the room. Thanks to all the participants, Harald Sterly (University of Cologne) and Melanie Eckle from the disastermappers Heidelberg for making it possible!

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