[HOT] The evolution of humanitarian mapping within the OpenStreetMap community

Benjamin Herfort herfort at uni-heidelberg.de
Thu Feb 4 11:43:48 UTC 2021


Dear Humanitarian OSM Community,

today I wanted to share with you some very recent research findings that 
we've just published in the journal "Scientific Reports". The title of 
the article is "The evolution of humanitarian mapping within the 
OpenStreetMap Community" and I can ensure you that we tried really hard 
to provide a comprehensive and detailed picture on what many of us in 
this community have been working on for the past decade.

This analysis encompasses all humanitarian mapping projects organized 
through the HOT Tasking Manager <https://tasks.hotosm.org/> since 2012 
(start of the available data), enabling us — for the first time — to 
cast a longitudinal perspective on the intersecting effects of mapping 
efforts, socio-economic, and demographic characteristics.

I also wrote a blog post which can give a quick summary of the main 
findings here:
http://k1z.blog.uni-heidelberg.de/2021/02/04/the-evolution-of-humanitarian-mapping-within-the-openstreetmap-community/

Here you find the full article:
Herfort, B., Lautenbach, S., Porto de Albuquerque, J., Anderson, J., 
Zipf, A.The evolution of humanitarian mapping within the OpenStreetMap 
community <https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-82404-z>. /Sci 
Rep/ *11, *3037 (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-82404-z

I hope that our research can be of interest and relevance not only for 
academics, but for a broader and much more diverse group as the 
humanitarian OSM community is one and I'm curious to hear about your 
thoughts and ideas about it. So feel free to get in contact with me in 
case that there is something not clear or if you would just like to 
discuss your thoughts and ideas. (smile)

Please note that our insights about humanitarian mapping in OSM only 
provide an incomplete picture which lacks an on-the-ground perspective 
and neglects other remote mapping tools, since we considered only the 
mapping that was organized through the HOT Tasking Manager. For 
instance, humanitarian mapping that has been organized by local 
residents on the ground is not considered here. This limitation is 
accompanied by the fact that our analysis only focused on two types of 
mapped objects (buildings, highways). As you know mapping in OSM comes 
with a much greater variety of potential map objects (e.g. health 
facilities, schools, water points), which can add particular value in 
comparison to other geographic data sets. We are aware of the fact that 
our definition of humanitarian mapping is therefore oversimplified and 
the results must be taken with a grain of salt. In many regions of the 
world there is no clear distinctive line between humanitarian and 
non-humanitarian mapping activities as the humanitarian and 
non-humanitarian OSM communities are not disjoint.

For the ones of you that I do not know in person, here a short 
background on myself and why we did this research:
I'm currently doing a PhD at Heidelberg University and are based at the 
Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology. I got interested in 
humanitarian mapping in OSM in 2013 when I attended a seminar by João 
Porto de Albuquerque (who is one of the co-authors of the paper) and the 
mapping in response to Typhoon Haiyan happened. Since then I've looked 
into various aspects of mapping in OSM and supported the Missing Maps 
project with developing MapSwipe, and general OSM analyses and stats. It 
was really great to see many of you in person at the HOT Summit and 
State of the Map in Heidelberg in 2019. This research mainly evolved out 
of these many discussions back then and many small analyses that I've 
conducted in the following and the again following discussions I had 
around these with João, Jennings, Sven and Alex. Some parts of it are 
also visualized on a website, which you can check here: 
https://humstats.heigit.org

Have a nice week,

Benni (Herfort)

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