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News — 24 June, 2012

Return to the training in Saint-Marc, Haiti: mixing generic and specific teaching aid to build strong OSM mapping capacities

Our previous posts about the Saint-Marc, Haiti project did not focus really about the training made there, what was one the main activities as the objectives were both improving the baseline data and buildings strong local mapping capacities. We wish we would have posted this post earlier, but as it deals with a specific documentation whose main version was in French, we had to clean the English original version so that it fits with all the changes we made in the French one throughout the three months of the program.

Our previous posts about the Saint-Marc, Haiti project did not focus really about the training made there, what was one the main activities as the objectives were both improving the baseline data and buildings strong local mapping capacities. We wish we would have posted this post earlier, but as it deals with a specific documentation whose main version was in French, we had to clean the English original version so that it fits with all the changes we made in the French one throughout the three months of the program.

Basically, the training period lasted one month. It started with evaluation by COSMHA and HOT of the 60 candidates HRI (Haitian Recovery Initiative) Chemonics preselected during the first week of the program. The candidates were divided into 3 groups and evaluated by COSMHA/HOT staff during a two hour interview and three hour workshop focused on OpenStreetMap surveying and editing. 30 of the candidates were chosen to join the project and divided into 3 groups.

In the second phase of training the COSMHA/HOT team provided three-weeks training to the selected applicants. The curriculum included both theoretical and practical aspects. Topics covered were field surveys, editing, uploading, advanced editing techniques, quality assurance, activity planning and data analysis. The field surveying portion covered data collection with GPS, printed forms and maps (Walking Papers). Participants were taught to edit and upload data with JOSM (the Java-based OSM editor) with forms for data entry (called “presets”). Additional advanced techniques were covered including quality assurance knowledge, activity planning and data analysis using existing OSM tools as well as specific ones developed for the STM020 project. All new training documentation and tools that were produced for STM020 are provided under an open license.

In fact, the trainings have been done using the broad-based OSM learning documentation (LearnOSM and OSM Manual), completed by a set of technical documents specifically designed to match the STM020 project needs. Learn OSM Appendix - Haiti OSM Checklists is the main document that lists the necessary steps during a complete mapping process: preparing the survey, surveying, saving the collected information, editing with JOSM and Quality assurance. Each of these paragraphs can be printed apart if the mapper wishes to keep a light document when checking, surveying, etc. As it has to be as short as possible as a How To list, technical learnings are put in specific documents. This is the case for the survey maps where we describe how to make useful electronic or paper maps, for planning or survey, just using JOSM and MkgMap. The quality checks of the edits are covered with Learn OSM - Appendix Checklist quality assurance. Handling JOSM filters as one of the elements of quality assurance has also won its own document called OSM Appendix - Use Filters for data quality. Two other short documents introduce the Haiti HOT Kit and the JOSM presets for the OTI STM020 program.

The trainings encompassed the following elements:

  • Introducing the OSM project for general mapping of a city, including in particular all the economic aspects
  • Data collection using GPS devices, field survey maps (“Walking Papers”), pictures, and forms to note all the objects’ attributes as defined in the project outline document
  • Editing the OSM database with JOSM set with the specific presets, that means electronic data entry masks based on the paper forms and coding the information in a logical way for OSM
  • uploading the data in the OSM platform, ensuring both their saving, their rendering and the labelling on the electronic maps based on them
  • processing quality control of the OSM data through quality assurance tools (JOSM filters and Validator, TagInfo, KeepRight!, etc.)
  • using the HOT Tasking Manager to organize surveying and editing sessions
  • improving the skills of the most brilliant participants with advanced teaching beyond the program deliverable during sessions dedicated to OSM data mining in JOSM and the famous open source GIS software Quantum GIS (QGIS)

As this training concept lies on practise, the participants have been quickly divided into practical mapping teams supervised by the COSMHA/HOT members. They implemented the techniques they have been trained to map the SMDC, starting with the closest areas from the program base camp (cultural centre - Le Troquet). The teams took turns field surveying for the ones and editing sessions for the others, switching every day, ensuring a continuous mapping process.

This “learning by doing” allowed us to build a functional team made up of the Saint-Marc youth and the COSMHA/HOT staffs, as shown in this diagram. This team was able to handle all the activities planned for the next two months, dedicated preferably to field surveying and editing sessions, trainings documentation finalization and specific tools development. During the first month of activity in Saint-Marc, a significant improvement of the Saint-Marc’s OSM map was already achieved, anticipating the expected results of the next phase dedicated to mapping production: on February 27, 15,899 objects had been created, among them 12,095 buildings (digitized on satellite imagery), 318 amenities, 240 roads, paths or corridors, 135 shops and 116 rural or urban landuse areas across the city and its surroundings, as shown on the the ITO map below (inside the grey square)