[OSM-talk] [HOT] Quality (was: The point on the OSM Response to the DR Congo Nord Kivu Ebola outbreak)

Stephen Penson stephen.penson at hotmail.co.uk
Thu Dec 13 07:48:15 UTC 2018

To build on Jean- Marc's point, one thing I raised at the HOT Summit and also recently to the London Missing Maps team is the need to tackle the errors at the source. Having validators is vital, but I believe we can improve the initial mapping through a few tweaks in the way new mappers are trained.

Personally, what I believe would be really powerful is the creation of a way for new mappers to understand the importance of high quality mapping.

For instance, if it were possible within ID Editor to not only highlight overlapping buildings but ALSO explain why overlapping buildings have an impact, then people would be able to relate and therefore change their behaviours.

For example, the tool could highlight that overlapping buildings can result in inaccurate population density calculations which can have an impact on humanitarian response (see previous messages from Pierre Belland's HOT mailing list post on the DRC as a case study). If we can explain this to people in a compelling way, I believe the quality of the mapping would improve.

If something could be built within the current tool set (e.g. embedded text/video within ID validation) this should hopefully ensure consistency.

Combining such tweaks with real-time monitoring tools, such as Bjoern suggests, should improve quality at mapathons.

Essentially, people attend Missing Maps mapathons to contribute to a worthy cause. People wish to map the best they can, so if more (and consistent) support is offered, the quality will improve.


From: Jean-Marc Liotier <jm at liotier.org>
Sent: 12 December 2018 22:30
To: talk at openstreetmap.org; hot at openstreetmap.org
Subject: Re: [HOT] Quality (was: The point on the OSM Response to the DR Congo Nord Kivu Ebola outbreak)

On 12/12/18 2:16 AM, Ralph Aytoun wrote:

I am also concerned about the quality of the mapping that is tying up projects because it takes up so much validation time. [..]

This perception is (don't take it personally - I answer your message but I'm not singling you out) a symptom of a widespread problem: quality perceived as a separate activity, an extra cost tacked on the actual productive work.

Considering the quality assurance process as a distinct set of activities has the very unfortunate effect of creating an unnecessary conflict with production.

- Start with a clearly defined objective quality goal, just adequate for the planned purpose of the data
- Teach contributors that not meeting this goal is worse than doing nothing: negative value
- Monitor contributions in real time, to catch deviations before they snowball... I love Bjoern's idea, though OSMCHA works for me
- Reiterate !

Quality is the essence of the whole activity, not a distinct step.

Yes, it spoils the fun for new contributors thrilled to start mapping away and see their gamified metrics take off spectacularly in a rain of digital achievement awards. But it also helps them make sense of what they are doing instead of launching them on an open ended trip with a hazy purpose - and what is better than to find meaning in a task ?

Normative leadership may feel incompatible with a flat collaborative forum such as Openstreetmap, but it makes sense within a directed project with a declared purpose, to which contributors voluntarily participate. If they trust the project leadership enough to join as contributors, they may expect the normative guidance and even be disappointed not to feel it from the leadership.
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