[Talk-us] Public Labs/balloon mapping?

andrzej zaborowski balrogg at gmail.com
Mon Oct 28 16:21:22 UTC 2013


On 28 October 2013 02:35, Ian McEwen <ianmcorvidae at ianmcorvidae.net> wrote:
> Hi; I've been recently looking around http://publiclab.org/, especially
> at their tools for doing ground-tethered balloon and kite mapping
> (http://publiclab.org/wiki/balloon-mapping). The bulk of the prose on
> the site seems to be activism-oriented -- documenting the BP oil spill,
> Occupy encampments, etc. As you might guess I'm more interested in the
> potential to use this for OSM, but stories of others doing that seem to
> be sparse.
> Has anyone here used balloon mapping or these tools (or similar ones)
> who can share experience, pitfalls, etc.?

I've done some kite photography around the San Francisco Bay area and
more recently one session in Seattle, but haven't had time to process
& stitch any images from within the US.  I've been following what
Public Lab / grassrootsmapping.org do, and had a chance to fly kite
with Jeff Warren and Stuart Long of Public Lab, but as you say their
process and tools are designed for activism, perhaps documentation
(historial, social, not geographical), and not exactly what we need in
OSM.  The MapKnitter tool is great for easy stitching but it's
difficult to get a precision map from it, although it surely would be
a good base for an OSM oriented tool.  In theory most of the process
can be automated away but there's a shortage of opensource tools for
Public Lab generally (not always) shoot from low altitudes at high
ground resultion, thus covering small areas.  It's possible to go up
to at least 3000ft so you can actually cover a couple square miles if
you allow for a bigger angle than Google Maps etc. which is not so
much of an issue for mapping.  Going high is difficult technically and
possibly legally though, and requires great conditions.

I've done some attempts with balloon mapping and many attempts using a
cheap DIY RC platform (which is gradually improving) but I've had most
success with the kite so far.

These same methods (kites, ballons, drones) are used a lot in
archaeology with established processes, but mostly use commercial

Best regards

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