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Field mapping with Portable OpenStreetMap (POSM) and OpenMapKit

impact abroad

Emily Eros, Seth Fitzsimmons and Nicholas Hallahan 30min

American Red Cross, Stamen and SpatialDev
This talk was transcribed.

This past year, the American Red Cross undertook its biggest field effort to date: launching a mapping hub in West Africa and training local volunteers to field map over 5,000 villages in the border regions of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Covering an area nearly as large as Switzerland, this project was a massive effort to scale up our Missing Maps field efforts in a rural region full of technical challenges: no connectivity, extremely poor roads, lack of electricity, dispersed volunteers, etc. This project required us to take a serious look at what was needed to take existing mapping tools and make them usable at scale in such a remote area.

SpatialDev and Stamen partnered with the Red Cross to build a suite of tools that unite field data collection with editing OpenStreetMap in a disconnected, offline environment. We have built POSM to run on a cheap, low-powered computer called the Intel NUC. Running Ubuntu Linux, the Intel NUC broadcasts a WiFi hot spot from which we have integrated a local instance of OpenStreetMap along with OpenMapKit and Field Papers. When surveying remote areas, often in countries with little infrastructure, the POSM is an essential tool that allows a team with dozens of Android phones and laptops to submit field survey data and edit OpenStreetMap with little or no internet connection. The development team traveled to Huaquillas, Ecuador to build our system in vivo and train Red cross volunteers to map with POSM, OpenMapKit, and Field Papers.

This session will explore some of the background and more technical details behind POSM and OpenMapKit, and we will conclude with a sneak peak, demonstrating submitting an OpenMapKit survey to POSM, validating our data, and submitting POSM data back to OpenStreetMap.