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News — 20 February, 2012

Hand over in Saint-Marc, Haiti

After the three weeks set up made by Nico and Brian, it is my turn to come on and support the project on the ground after having done it remotely through the writing of the JOSM presets and other technical and guidelines documents, after of course, months passed to set the project from scratch and made it accepted by the funder. It is my seventh time in Haiti since the 01/12/2010 earthquake, a country I started to learn after having worked with Haitian colleagues on the GIS field in 2008. I really entered into the OSM world by mapping Port-au-Prince during the next weeks after the quake and joined the Humanitarian relief in February to help the emergency action. Beyond my attachment to the country, it is also for me the opportunity to work with a team of mappers that I know are very committed, as I already trained them or worked with them within the past months, and to meet so cool and gifted guys as Brian and Nicolas, whom I have been working with for the last year on growing up the OSM community and actions in Haiti, but almost never met IRL for two years now. Good to see you bro!

This two days hand over between February 3rd and 4th let us the needed time to talk once again about the methodology we are setting there and to refine it. For the urban area of Saint-Marc we want not only map POI but also buildings and landuses. Apart from the great potential analysis it will get, having detailed buildings put on GPS devices and Walking Papers during the survey helps the mappers a lot to position themselves, especially where they survey very dense dense popular areas crossed by very tiny corridors, but above all allows them to point out the exact location of every GPS waypoint and avoid any kind of confusion. As we have to map all the small shops in the city, this would help not to get something messy. In addition, we want the tasking manager tiles to be loaded into the Garmin eTrex devices so that each team of mappers can use the navigation functions to easily reach their area of survey and do not overlap the area of another team.

Besides these technical aspects, the six teams of five Saint-Marc young people led each one by a COSMHA mapper will work on a dedicated zone, dividing their time inside our base camp in tracing on imagery, preparing survey materials or editing the collected data, and the survey time where they collect either POI or linear features like roads or canals, as the latter have to be followed without interrupting. This working organization is started at the end of this last week of training before entering the real mapping period coming next. Part of my job will be to analyze what the team produce as survey materials and data traced or collected, and provide supplementary training sessions for them to catch what is not fully gained yet. These specific training sessions apart, I will continue what Brian and Nicolas initiated on Saturdays and Sundays with training covering other more general aspects : how to read a paper map, what is exactly the GPS technology and its limits, etc. And of course, make them subscribe to talk-ht and sign in a wiki OSM account. Furthermore, external speakers will occasionally come to talk about their use of OSM, or a specific OSM matter, or anything relating to mapping that can improve their skills as mappers. Because, yes our goal is to make the best possible map of Saint-Marc, but as always we also aim at building strong local capacities.