Saturday, February 23, 2013

Serious Mapping Fun

Along with YIPL and Mozilla Nepal, Open DRI Nepal were organizers of the first ever Open Data Day celebrated in Nepal. Open Data Day 2013 featured various events like Hackathon,  Mapathon, Localization Sprint and Wikithon. Open DRI conducted a Mapathon event which was divided into two one hour sessions for continuous mapping of building footprints.

The event started at 9:45 as all the participants and the mentors gathered into Hall 3. The team of mentors were teachers from NEC and KU, Open DRI and their volunteers. All the participants were taught about the tools that they will be using to edit building footprints. These tools included software like JOSM, an offline map editor for Open Street Map and Kathmandu Valley Tasking Manager, a tool to check that two different teams do not edit the same map data while doing edits.

There were some inconvenience due to inconsistent internet connection but still  the Open DRI team were prepared as they had brought the whole mapping kit in an usb flash drive. So the mapping kit was passed around and everybody were able to get the tools up and running. Due to the problem in internet connection the number of map edits as initially expected was not realized however all the participants had fun mapping. The more important part in my opinion was that the mentors were able to pass along a message about the significance of the map data they were contributing to Open Street Map in the longer term.

Open DRI which is a World Bank initiative is interested in mapping building footprints of Kathmandu because they ultimately want to use these data to analyze and prepare for an earthquake when it strikes Kathmandu. They are not only interested in mapping building footprints but also in mapping other critical Point Of Interest like Health Facilities and Hospitals that would be relevant in case of earthquake preparedness.  These data when uploaded to Open Street Map could be used by any number of people and its use only limited by their imagination.

The event was not all serious mapping though. The event also had a treasure hunt. Yes, a treasure hunt. The thirty two participants were divided into eight group of fours and handed map print outs and clues. These eight teams went on around Jwalakhel area not only hunting for treasures but also learning important GIS ideas and also mapping POI's. Some team did good in terms of marking and some did better than them. There were prizes for the top three. At the end of the day everybody were winners. The day ended for the Open DRI team, the volunteers and the participants with big smiles in their faces and a nice group photo.

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