The OpenStreetMap (OSM) community in the Pacific Islands is small but growing. This year, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) held an OSM workshop as a part of the 2016 Pacific GIS and Remote Sensing User Conference. Coordinated by the Pacific Community (SPC), the conference, which ran for 5 days, consisting of 4 days of presentations and discussions, and day of workshops, was hosted at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva, Fiji. The HOT led workshop agenda introduced participants to the fundamentals of OSM and associated tools with a quick data collection activity on the university grounds using OpenMapKit.
The Geography, Earth Science and Environment department graciously hosted the event, providing an excellent space that supported 25 participants made up of students, researchers, government and non-government organisations. The morning focused on the basics of OSM, HOT initiatives and how to use the iD editor through the Tasking Manager to generate map data. As part of the training, a project was set up in the Tasking Manager focusing on the university campus, to get some hands on experience and demonstrate how local knowledge can greatly help when digitising features from aerial imagery. OSM in Suva has a number of roads already mapped, but building footprints and points of interest are just beginning to be added. This was the first time buildings at USP was put on to OSM!
The participants were then introduced to Field Papers and OpenMapKit (OMK) in the afternoon. These are the tools HOT frequently use to collect detailed attribute data on the ground, after remotely digitising features such as building footprints and road networks. Using the buildings traced in the morning part of the workshop, the OSM data for the campus was downloaded on to smartphones, and splitting into groups, the participants headed out to add detailed attribute information.
The enhancements to OMK, particularly the server as part of the Portable OSM development makes the management of collected data on the mobile devices much easier to transfer and track compared to previous methods. We used the OMK server setup on a DigitialOcean droplet running a Ubuntu 14.04 LTS platform with 500 MB of memory, which fully supported the downloading and uploading of customised survey forms for all the participants. Please read the ‘Walkthrough’ documentation to see how to setup the server, customise questionnaires for surveying and use OMK on mobile devices.
The participants were fully engaged and picked up techniques quickly. Overall this was an excellent way to continue the growth of OSM in the Pacific Islands. Building a relationship with the University of the South Pacific, and supporting them where possible is key as they move forward with incorporating OSM into their GIS curriculum and apply the concepts and associated technology to their research. We would like to give a special thanks to Nick Rollings, Amrit Rajand all the participants for making the workshop possible, and for the warm Fijian welcome! Please check out the photo gallery for more photos of the day and get in touch with Mhairi O’Hara or Nate Smith if you would like to hear more. Vinaka vaku levu!