[HOT] OSM humanitarian mapping and its learning curve

Phil (The Geek) Wyatt phil at wyatt-family.com
Thu Oct 13 02:44:17 UTC 2016

Hi Folks,


I am a retired long time map user, occasional mapper (in QGIS, Mapinfo) and supporter of the OSM mapping project. It seems to me that the issue of poor mapping, especially for HOT projects, is coming up on such a regular basis that it's time to consider some mandatory training for users before they get to map under the HOT task manager. I don't think this would be too difficult for most volunteers and it could ensure that at least a certain level of competency is attained before being exposed to complex tasks. If people know that in the first place then they can make a choice as to whether they commence or continue to map.


I have no idea how this could be accomplished as I know little of the linkages between OSM and the HOT Task Manager, but restricting HOT tasks to those with some defined training could improve the results.


Let's say as a minimum you train folks on roads and residential area polygons - that might be level 1 (ID Editor)

Level 2 could be after training for buildings, tracks, paths (ID or JOSM)

Level 3 for validation (JOSM)


In this way HOT tasks simply get assigned at each level and you know you have the right people doing the tasks at hand. The task manager could also only highlight jobs at their assigned level until they do the next level training.


You might even consider, as part of validation, dropping people from a higher level to a lower level if they continually fail to produce results at the desired consistency.


Just my thoughts as a casual mapper.



Cheers - Phil


 <http://www.thingreenline.org.au/> Thin Green Line Supporter, Volunteer Mapper (GISMO) -  <http://www.redcross.org.au/volunteering.aspx> Red Cross 



From: Severin Menard [mailto:severin.menard at gmail.com] 
Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2016 4:34 AM
To: hot at openstreetmap.org
Subject: [HOT] OSM humanitarian mapping and its learning curve


The edits on hotosm.org job #2228 <http://tasks.hotosm.org/project/2228>  have started and now happens what I feared. There is no mention of what are the necessary skills and newbies are coming with a lot of enthusiasm but with almost no OSM experience. A quick analysis of the first 29 contributors shows that 20 of them have created their OSM account less than one month ago. Some did it yesterday or today. Wow. 

The result of that : obviously, crappy edits are coming, spoiling what we have been doing over the last few days : now we have building as nodes where shapes are totally visible, un-squared bad shaped buildings and the main landuse area is self-cutting in various places (see there <https://leslibresgeographes.org/jirafeau/f.php?h=26gWjHki&p=1> ). 

Nothing new under the sun : it was already the case for Haiti EarthQuake 2010. Quite a pity that six years after, despite the OSM tools have improved a lot, it remains the same. It is though quite simple to fix the most part of it: do-not-invite-newcomers-to-map-over-complex-crisis-contexts.

I guess some will argue that the OSM newcomers are people of good will and that they just want to help and that they my feel offended/discouraged. Of course their intentions are high and yes they may feel a bit hurt. But this is really a classic in humanitarian response: people with the best intentions in the world may not fit for it, just because they are not experienced yet. 


Mapping in OSM in crisis response is not an exciting one-shot hobby : it does have its learning curve and it is key to learn how to map correctly before being dropped over complex humanitarian contexts. This is why I mentioned three sets of necessary skills for the jobs I created these last days on http://taches.francophonelibre.org. And the beginner mappers who joined the job that fitted for beginners are people that already have a few months of OSM experience, not newcomers. Newcomers should be driven over non urgent fields.

If someone is not interested to learn first in not a mass media covered crisis context : this is not a problem, it is actually a good way to see real motivations. I personally prefer to get one mapper that will become a huge, excellent contributor, 3-4 more occasional but still producing neat data, than to lose 10 that would create crappy objects and just leave forever afterwards anyway. 


I guess the resulting need of duplicating the number of necessary edits (crappy ones then corrections) to get a clean data is a rather a good way to grow the number of total contributors and the number of total edits created through the # of the HOT TM instance that seems to be so important for the board of HOT US Inc (two current directors have contacted me for this purpose) to make communication and raise funds from the figures. But what is at stake here is to provide good baseline data for humanitarian response, not distorted metrics.


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