[HOT] Getting organised

Jim Smith seth006 at blarneystone.com
Tue Jan 5 15:22:59 UTC 2016


You are right on target here. I started mapping during the Nepal earthquake and was learning as I went. I got a few gentle tactical tips from you… such as when I was mapping every tiny square I saw and you made me feel at ease when you humorously pointed out I was being very thorough by tagging every dog house in the area! The message was well received and I felt comfortable in being less specific on tiny squares. But more importantly, I felt there was someone out there who cared that I was spending every evening volunteering time to do something worthwhile. And it gave me some to ask those questions to when I wasn’t sure if a house without a roof is still tagged as a building or why the world wouldn’t end because I accidently marked every node in my tile as a building and saved it (I thought for sure I’d be banned after that blunder!).


We need to do more “catching them doing something right”, as John so well states it. Validators should not be evil school marms who are standing by with rulers to smack us when we mess up but rather are experts who check our work, fix the occasional mistakes, show us how to fix our own frequent mistakes, encourage us, and tell us what we can do to improve.


Who knows, some day those beginners may be like me and feel confident enough to start validating tiles and gently guiding others in the right direction too.





From: john whelan [mailto:jwhelan0112 at gmail.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, January 5, 2016 9:24 AM
To: hot at openstreetmap.org
Subject: [HOT] Getting organised


HOT is evolving, we started off with mainly experienced OSM mappers mapping in response to short term emergencies.  Now do do a wider range of tasks with a wider range of mappers. 

We're seeing organisations such as MSF and the Red Cross guiding people who want to help them to mapping with HOT, so our mappers are changing.  It helps engage volunteers.

We're starting to see more GIS and mapping being organised locally but still not as much as I'd like to see.  The locals are better at reading street names than people mapping from imagery.

Currently http://tasks.hotosm.org/ is our splash page if you like.  At the moment we see two or three high priority projects followed by medium priority projects in date order, the most recent last.  So the medium priority projects get their five minutes of glory then drift down into the mass of medium projects.

We end up with a large number of projects that get 25% done, 5% validated and drift on for years.

I suggest we have ten slots set at high priority, that way we stand a chance of getting a few projects completed.  

Of these I suggest that MSF, American Red Cross get given two permanent high priority slots.  That would concentrate their minds on which of their projects are most urgent.  At the moment I suspect mappers are seen as a no cost resource and some projects that are still around where the ground workers have finished their tasks but we're still mapping.

Of the others, I'd give three to other organisations for a period of say three months.  For example Cameroon has a mapping department, Bangladesh has an active community, Nepal again has an active community and there are others.  Let them decide which projects will do them most good.  They may make some mistakes but I hope it will develop a sense of ownership.

The other five I'd let the board decide.

Then we have the dead wood projects that clutter up the medium priority, these are projects where no one has mapped or validated for more than a month.  It maybe the imagery is poor, the instructions too complex, or whatever.  I'd downgrade these to low priority, that way the active projects would stand out more and again stand more chance of completion.

It might even be worthwhile having a weighting attached to each project, the more active projects or highly validated projects move up the list the less active ones move down.  It just needs a tag for the task list to order.  The actual computation can be done off line say once a day and someone else can sort out the algorithm.


Can we get more out of our mappers?

I think we can.  On project 1390 I validated as people mapped.  New mappers got feedback, the advantage is they get a bit more involved and feel engaged.  So we got more tiles out of them.  We got 6 or more tiles out of a number of new mappers or ones who had mapped less than six tiles before, typically I'd expect one or two tiles from them.  On the data quality side I think it was up.  By correcting problems early on the new mappers made less mistakes that need intervention later on from the validation side.  However it takes effort, the faster the feedback the better the results.

Validation is a tricky.  HOT isn't traditional OSM where individuals like to map park benches or waste bins.  There is a service level to be met, and if the building is five feet out, well that's probably good enough although we  should strive for accuracy.  It's a bit lets get something useful done with the resources we have.  Normal good management technique is catch them doing something right.  So invalidating a tile is the last thing you want to do.  I normally correct then leave a note, such as added fourteen settlements. Where possible third party it JOSM validation picked up the following: African wiki suggests higway=living street in an African small village may not be appropriate and I must confess I normally delete any zebra pedestrian crossing I come across in Africa.  There is another issue with experienced OSM mappers HOT has its own conventions, such as everything that looks like a building is mapped as an area and tagged building=yes.  Some OSM mappers use a node tagged building=hut etc.  Giving feedback is delicate because in the OSM world what they are doing is acceptable.

The worst validation is by someone who has mapped two tiles.  I recently double checked one and JOSM validation picked up a dozen problems and visually there were a few more.  This is a data quality issue and it becomes a matter of are any of the validated tiles to be trusted.  In Nepal this was a major issue.

We don't have enough good tactful validators.

1390 was also interesting in that I came across an MSF volunteer, new mapper who mapped accurately, did a fair number of tiles but when it was complete wanted to know which MSF project to map next.  So project managers need to have something in the pipeline.

Project managers need to understand the mappers.  We have more inexperienced mappers than experienced ones.  Projects that demand only buildings and have documentation on how to map them work well.  Projects that ask for landuse=residential and connecting highways to be tagged unclassified work well.  Ones that ask for forests, and everything else don't work as well.  New mappers get confused and give up and take up basket weaving instead which is not what we'd like.

Mapping should be fun.

Anyway there is enough to mull over.

Cheerio John


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