South Wales COVID 19 Vulnerability Mapping

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Remote and Field Community Mapping project, aiming to provide COVID vulnerability analytics for geospatial understanding of Public Health in South Wales, and the opportunity for local community participatants to input, express, and prioritise situated knowledge of assets and risks in their own terms.


This project has been initiated by Rupert Allan @rupertmaesglas, in collaboration with MapUganda and Cwm Taf Morganwg University Health Board, initially as a feasibility study for the application of participatory geospatial humanitarian data methodologies to understand non-clinical factors relating to COVID vulnerability and subsequent study of Public Health in Context, and the potential for communities to have a say in their own public health priorities and resource allocation.

Changeset hashtags: #covid19 #COVWales


During the last two years, the countries of the UK have been some of the most vulnerable in the world for COVID risk. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 (aka 201/501YV1, aka 2020/12/01, aka B 1.1.7) continues to make diagnosis, testing and vaccinating increasingly difficult. South Wales has shown as a UK hotspot, consistently ranking high for cases per 100,000 pop.

Officials in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board have requested a mapping of the worst-affected areas. it has been agreed that using remote mapping (ideally using Ugandan/OSM Africa remote-mappers) and field mapping public amenities and contextual health indicators (again, potentially using african technicians/trainers) will be highly effective. As well as the immediate COVID concerns, the use of reciprocal international knowledge-sharing importantly ties-in with the longer-term (sustainability, inclusivity, resilience) agenda of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Wales Act.


Proposed Field Intervention

Remote-mapping (Tutorial) by local and global community is being followed by community interest groups, who are learning, workshopping and applying established field-mapping techniques of StreetComplete(basic) and ODK(advanced) surveying, as increasingly specific/bespoke community profiling data is identified. Housing stock data is the baseline.

A key goal of this work is to ensure that communities are engaged in an ongoing and empowering way, to enable the representation of specifically community-derived priorities. Local perception of COVID-19 risk is expected to provide Public Health with better insight of health determinants revealed by the knowledge, attitudes and practices related to the disease in these communities. Locally identified need is fundamental to sustainable Public Health intervention, as is the bringing together of key personnel from Local Authorities, the Third Sector and the Health Board, and the use of appropriate media to engage and communicate effectively.


The timeframe for this project is three to six months, with a view to longer-term expansion/scaling.

Initial AOI

Merthyr Tydfil (Tasking Manager tasks #11606, #11652, #11653, #11654, #11655) has been identified as the initially prioritised Area of Interest.

Local health teams have suggested that the tight-knit nature of community life potentially contributes to recent ‘flare-ups’. This characteristic could well be related to the closeness of masses of terraced housing, alleyways, footpaths, and local amenities. Spatial behavioural analytics are scarce, making it as difficult for the public to self-manage as it is for health authorities to mitigate risks.  While local Public Health authorities implement lock-down measures as best they can, the lack of a ‘Common Operational Picture’ and information outside of traditional clinical/symptomatic information makes the current response reactive, rather than pre-emptive. (

Training Materials/Technical:

Link: COVID-19 - How to Map

- Non-Standard Tools/Plugins:

JOSM Terracer plugin to be used where necessary on terraced houses: JOSM/Plugins/Terracer

Data Cleaning Workflow

- Link: OSM Uganda Data Cleaning Workflow


Changesets to be seen via OSM Anaytics/OSMCha

Data Model see Appendix 1

Mapping Considerations
  • Please do NOT edit roads remotely without specific reference to coordination referents
  • 2 workflows should be clearly available to the task - one in JOSM and one in iD. NB: It is important to conventionalise across the UK, map in accordance with OSM Cymru and the Valleys context, and most of all, make sure that new mappers in the community can contribute. The use of ID, despite terrace-mapping being slow, will be important.
  • Addressing: The Valleys are ‘artificially-imposed’ terraces, built in an ordered way. The Bing imagery is high quality, and shows long singular built terrace structures. These comprise rows of dwellings and, for this, the mapping conventions of roads and house numbers/names should prevail. The preference on UK houses is an individual polygon per house.
  • Tracing/Tagging: All residential buildings need to be digitised, using iD or JOSM, with the tag: 'building=house', then 'house=terraced'. Difference in tile colour/texture (and chimney stacks) should be used as trustworthy indicators of dwelling boundaries.
  • For (the very few)areas where a terrace exists separately (named) from the road, refer to for context, and proceed with caution.  (‘Store the name of the terrace in addr:housename and the name of the road in addr:street. (This is actually what Royal Mail do in their address file).’)
  • Validation: To be undertaken by Missing Maps, and requested from OSM UK
Garden Plots/Boundaries

Understanding housing densities, resource allocation and user behaviours is key to helping communities protect themselves in these areas. Therefore, the second more advance mapping pass should incorporate plot boundaries across which customary interactions take place between neighbours. The UK Ordnance Survey cadastral layer (available in iD and JOSM) allows the second pass of mappers to experience the useful tool available in iD and JOSM, where blue lines may be used to trace over. The cover is not comprehensive, rather it is indicative of conventions to be guided-by. This can be seen in a 30 Second Video - Cadastral Layer in iD:

Open/Communal Areas:

Green Spaces etc are seen to be both assets and risks in the context of COVID-19, with open air welfare and livelihood enabled, but also the creation of public gathering being a risk factor. Use this wiki page to inform remote mapping:


Footpaths, bridges, alleyways and also bus tops are areas in which people are forced into close proximity. The imagery available can often show road markings where bus-stop pull-ins are delineated.


Current Epidemiological interest also covers waste and grey water as a vector for potential COVID transmission, and so Waterways are important to identify where possible.

Data Model (Appendix 1):