[HOT] OSM humanitarian mapping and its learning curve

Martin Noblecourt m_noblecourt at cartong.org
Thu Oct 13 09:12:43 UTC 2016

Dear all,

This is obviously a key topic that have been around, actually way before 
I was there in the OSM community ;-)

I completely agree with Séverin's warning and the comments from 
subsequent speakers.

To me we already have elements of the solution:

 1. As expressed by John & Mikel, improving the TM can certainly help. I
    also suggested recently to split clearly the beginners projects from
    the rest on the homepage (and only make the advanced one visible by
    opening a menu/clicking a button, that would already prevent quite a
    few beginners access them I think). That implies also a clearer
    documentation/research on what is a beginner/medium/advanced tasks,
    based on emergency situation, features, imagery...
 2. As a quick fix, some basic phrasing/warnings on the tasks could also
    be improved/increased. E.g. are we sure all new mappers go to the
    "Instructions" tab? Else a sentence in bold in tab one "Make sure to
    read instructions tab" could already help?
 3. As expressed by Séverin & Heather, tweaking the TM will not do all
    and training will remain paramount. EOF is a great example of
    focusing on training a few quality mappers (particularly for African
    countries contexts), I think Missing Maps' repeated mapathons
    (specially in London) are also a good example and maybe more adapted
    to Western countries contexts. This is also why we focus mostly on
    non-disaster settings with MM, except with contributors with some
 4. Regular mapathons/in-depths training are the only way to train
    validators, a resource we are short on. As discussed regularly with
    the Missing Maps members, we also lack incentive/recognition for
    validators, this should be taken into account in the new TM.

I'll conclude by seconding Pete that the overall quality of data of OSM 
is mostly deemed as good by the humanitarians users we are & see - as 
expressed via the feedback from NGOs to contributors we're trying to 

So thanks to the whole community and let's continue improving.



On 13/10/2016 08:57, hot-request at openstreetmap.org wrote:
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ------------------------------
> Message: 4
> Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2016 16:57:40 -0400
> From: Dale Kunce <dale.kunce at gmail.com>
> To: Romain Bousson <romainbousson at gmail.com>
> Cc: "hot at openstreetmap.org" <hot at openstreetmap.org>
> Subject: Re: [HOT] OSM humanitarian mapping and its learning curve
> Message-ID:
> 	<CADOF=4Jq-CSoNznSZ=SyK_OJzdFKNyV_x5xaW89ZSzAk+1vaoQ at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> Thanks everyone. I agree that the task should be marked as appropriate for
> intermediate or advanced mappers.
> I also wanted to reiterate a point that Mikel made. Having two tasking
> managers, is not the greatest for more coordination. HOT's official tasking
> manager should be the only tasking manager used. Having conflicting tasks
> introduces errors and makes coordination for actual data use difficult.
> Romain,
> Thanks for your suggestions. My apologies on not getting back to you I've
> been very busy and traveling the last couple of days.
> You are correct that we changed the way that created tasks. There was some
> debate within the activation team as to which way to do the work. All of
> your comments will be captured in the after action for some lesson's
> learned.
> Thanks again for everyone that is contributing to the mapping.
> Dale
> On Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 3:35 PM, Romain Bousson <romainbousson at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Hello,
>> I noticed the same issues recently. All along the week, as the media
>> coverage increased, the way that the projects and tasks were completing
>> themselves changed. From large tiles completed by several users turn by
>> turn, we came to big tiles directly divided into tiny tasks, being
>> completed by only one user in a few minutes. The peer review process,
>> making the quality of the work, was botched.
>> I personnaly found many tasks checked green as "validated" by newcomers,
>> and "completed" by newcomers.
>> For example, here is an extract from a message I sent to Dale Kunce (admin
>> of many Haïti projects), where I was pointing to the fact that many
>> newcomers did not see the instructions tab and so did not use the new
>> Digital Globe imagery, and stayed using Bing (that was before today's post
>> disaster imagery). But I unfortunately received no answer. I am not here to
>> complain about that: I understand that there may be a lot of other things
>> to do during these days.
>>> I just saw 4 tiles on the #2223 - Hurricane Matthew: Grand Anse coast
>>> project and all were wrong according to me (but maybe I am wrong and
>>> somebody have to tell me): - task #53 was checked "complete" by
>>> @michaelcraven, but many buildings were missing. - and the 3 main tasks of
>>> ANSE D'HAINAULT town : #232, #233 and #13. All 3 were clearly not done
>>> using Digital Globe imagery so it missed a lot of things.
>> I think some more warnings and advices written in the instructions tabs
>> would be very simple and quite effective.
>> Cheers,
>> Romain Bousson (mapping as Romainbou)
>> 2016-10-12 19:34 GMT+02:00 Severin Menard <severin.menard at gmail.com>:
>>> 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.
>>> Séverin
>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> HOT at openstreetmap.org
>>> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/hot
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