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News — 19 May, 2010

May Mid-Mission to Haiti Report From Nicolas and Dane

Our second week here in Haiti is off to a fast start, and we look forward to sending a more detailed report upon its culmination. We are departing this morning for excursions to Jacmel and Leogane, but are excited to briefly summarize our excellent last week based at Logbase.

In a nutshell we have been successful in:

  • Solidly training staff from a wide range of international humanitarian organizations,  developement projects (USAID WINNER), and nationals: CNIGS, Institut de Geographie Appliquee, civil society Forum  Communautaire de CIte Soleil, and INURED. Several hours at least have been dedicated per individual to instruction in field techniques (GPS and Walking papers) and bringing data back into the OSM project using the JOSM editor. So advanced students have exceeded our expectations and already taken a meaningful role in training others, allowing us to stand back and watch reall community interaction around OSM take root. Some days in our training tent, based in the OCHA area of Logbase, excited members of ALL of these organizations come and go, mingling and laughing and comparing notes on what they've learning, and share techniques, strategies, concerns, and enthusiasm. We've been successfully scheduling and excecuting trainings running from 9am to 7pm, often paired with night trainings with key actors who are also camped at Camp Charlie. Just last night Dane was up till Midnight running a second night session with an NGO from myanmar, who's excitement for learning GPS and OSM tools cannot be overstated, and their enthusiasm will likely spread as they will be in Haiti for over a year.
  • Overall, more than 25 individuals have been trained so far (several with repeated sessions to expand their knowlege on key areas relevant to their work and potential for contributing to ongoing projects)
  • In the midst of these training we've also been making solid progress on development and testing of tools for interoperability (presented as a de facto functional SDI - see Interoperability section of the HOT Strategy & Proposal for Haiti). Basically focusing on existing data pipelines and testing (and improving) how OSM can used as a common editing platform by each UN cluster custodians of data, and how these organizations can then get the exact data back out of OSM that they need. IOM is the most advanced in this process, and we have focused on extending specific tutorials for them using QGIS, PostgreSQL/PostGIS, and osm2pgsql to convert custom osm tags into postgis databases and shapefiles.
  • A highlight of IOM's advances are that a survey of Cite Soleil is going to start involving the IOM GIS coordinator, CNIGS personnals currently working as staff of IOM, and community leaders trained on OSM from the Forum Communautaire of Cite Soleil and INURED. This survey will be a generic base map type of survey, based on the latest Humanitarian Data Model (questionaires and highly focus and structured preset forms for data entry). Data will be entered in OSM and then re-used in IOM mapping environment to support IDP camp mapping within the IOM lead Camp Coordination Management Cluster. Logistics, Water and Sanitation, Education and Heatlh will follow the same process. We are absolutely thrilling this is happening, and not only represents a real high mark for our success so far in Haiti but represents a potentially very beneficial relationship for IOM and the Forum Communautaire of Cite Soleil fully beyond our initial involvment.
  • Good discussions on grounding OSM-supported geodata management capacities in CNIGS.  The core goal here is to make sure that all public domain data created since 12-Jan by all actors will available to be assessed for import in the OSM database and then available for re-export into an offline, well organized CNIGS geodata filesystem solution for their base line data. While a lofty goal, this is viable as we certainly have to puzzle pieces in place to do this technically and now have secured the commitment of CNIGS at the top levels. Our secondary goal is to work with CNIGS and the DPC (Disaster National Mapping Agency) on planning an OSM based geodata management solution specifically tailored to the event of a severe, punctuated crisis (e.g. in event of a devastaing hurricane this season) with international back-up and a community based support (global OSM + the nascent OSM Haitian community). The catch is there is no funding yet for explicitly building this capacity within CNIGS, but we are prepared to continue working on this idea within the existing cluster framework and current state of resources by willing actors. If funding could come, then the opporunity would be greater to coalence into a core space all the CNIGS staff that are now spread out across logbase and the few facilites that survived the quake. More details on this segment of activites in the coming days. Core partners are CNIGS, UNOSAT and OSM (+ individuals), and in coordinatation with the contingency planning activites run by UNOCHA
  • Fast paced discussions on creating an economic and academic OSM ecosystem in Haiti with Private (Haitian free lancers) and Educational Actors (Institut de Geographie Applique). We have been invited to come be instructors at the Institut in October 2010.
  • Missions to Jacmel and Leogane We are rushing for this: thanks for the support you tried to provide, we have secured at least reaching Leogane where we can stay 3 days training on surveying and editing

Again, greatest gratitude for the World Bank to supporting and funding these missions to Haiti.

Gratitude as well for  OpenGeo to serving as an institutional vehicle for HOT, for the UN Office of  Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to providing working space and coordination support,  for the UN World Food Program (WFP) to securing logistics support,  for the International Office Of Migrations (IOM) to providing support to training in the UN Logistics Base, for the Centre National D'Information Geomatique et Spatial (CNIGS) for providing personals to facilitate training and field surveys, for GIS practitioners of the main clusters.

Nicolas and Dane