Unite Maps Initiative

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Unite Maps Initiative is a stable and long-term mapping initiative that aims not only to enrich topographic and operational data in United Nations peacekeeping mission areas but also to provide peacebuilding and humanitarian actors with topographic maps, operational geo-information, search and navigation tools, and imagery and street-level base maps. Through this initiative, the Department of Operational Support (DOS) of the United Nations helps countries torn by conflict to create the necessary conditions for lasting peace.

Building upon previous initiatives in which the main objective was the production of topographic maps, the United Nations Global Service Centre (UNGSC), the United Nations Geospatial Information Section in New York, and three peacekeeping missions - UNSOS, MONUSCO and MINUSCA - established in August 2019 the foundation of this new and wider global initiative.

The operational arm of the Initiative is led by the Service for Geospatial, Information and Telecommunications Technologies of the UNGSC which supports Peacekeeping operations by delivering geospatial products and services to field missions and other UN partners.

This Initiative has set a new standard in the UN Global Service Center and wants to be a starting point for fruitful collaboration between UN bodies and all the humanitarian agencies.

Learn more about our vision and activities here.

Objectives

This project has been developed in order to maximize crowd-sourced geospatial data to effectively and efficiently support the UN operational demands that will also allow to contribute to the wider public use including UN agencies and NGOs.

The Objective of this mapping project is to enrich the topographic data in different areas to assist the UN missions in their field endeavors, such as peace and security, navigation, and logistics, by providing its peacekeepers with topographic maps that will help them in their tactical and operational activities. By enhancing situational awareness through the representation of topographical data on a map to the highest degree of accuracy possible, the Project could enable peacekeeping missions to plan for various contingencies and alter force distribution to prevent conflict.

The Project aims to overcome the problems of lack of topographic data in the field mission areas for delivering accurate and up-to-date base information, for the missions peacekeeping, to the users and stakeholders.

UN has chosen to edit data directly on OpenStreetMap also for the sake of all humanitarian projects and the local communities.

Its purpose is to ensure that all the topographic products are kept current and always updated so that the changes on the ground are promptly reflected on the maps available to UN staff in the field.

This collection of topographical data will contribute for the production of many type of maps, including:

  • dangerous areas – for example, flood or flood-prone areas, areas mined or containing unexploded ordinance, and sectors cleared or uncleared of mines;
  • security concerns – for example, incidents of accident/sickness/hostile fire, potential conflict zones, evacuation routes, mustering and regrouping points, checkpoints, security areas of responsibility, liaison offices, security warden zones;
  • military locations – for example, Congolese army units, local militias, foreign armed groups, arms trafficking routes;
  • disarmament, demobilization and reintegration locations – for example, Regrouping Centres, Integration Centres, Orientation Centres, special child soldier camps.

Projects related to OpenStreetMap

The first mission involved in the Project, at the end of 2018, was UNSOS, which operates in Somalia to provide critical support to AMISOM, UNSOM and the Somali Federal Security Institutions to make them more effective in defeating enemies of peace and in creating the much-needed space for political reconciliation, state formation and extension of government authority in Somalia.

In 2019 MINUSCA and MONUSCO joined the initiative and requested several 1:50,000 scale topographic map sheets to be produced by improving the completeness and accuracy of OSM data.

In 2020 MINUSMA and UNISFA has also come onboard with a number of map sheets covering a large portion of their areas of operation.

UN Mappers community

You can be part of a wonderful community of mappers by contributing to our HOT projects with your local group and friends!

You will find all the useful information at this Wiki page: UN Mappers

You can learn more about the features to be mapped at our first event by visiting the following page.

Mapathons and events

You can stay updated about our events at this Eventbrite page, as well as following us on our social media channels. You can find our first event, held in our UNGSC base in Brindisi for all OSM contributors.

How we operate

Mapping

We purchase high resolution satellite imagery to support the feature extraction activities in JOSM or any other OSM editor. We use the HOT's Tasking Manager to divide the "map sheets" in small manageable squares. When data are uploaded, a first validation occurs, using the JOSM validation rules.

Validation process

Data used in the United Maps Initiative must meet a defined standard for quality. Data validation is an iterative process that uses formal methods of evaluating a dataset's adherence to a defined quality standard. This process can help detect anomalies with features, attributes, and spatial relationships in data.

The three pillar phases of the QA/QC process are:

  • Review
  • Correct
  • Verify

Validation is performed using manual and automatic processes.

The manual validation of the data focuses on the most important features and data sets, investigating crucial element that the automatic validation tools cannot highlight. This step of the Review phase could be done on the OSM website or on the JOSM editor software.

Automatic validation tools:

  • OSM Inspector (Geofabrik tool)
  • Osmose (OSM France tool)

How to get involved as an individual

You can join the future local events or participate remotely by editing the Projects release by UN Mappers on the Tasking Manager. We will let you know via our social channels when there are tasks that need to be worked on or when mapathons in your proximity are being organised.

Feel free to message us your interest and any questions you may have.

Organised editing documentation

This section enlists all the useful documentation points to comply with the Organised Editing Guidelines. Many details are explained in subpages of this page as well.

  • Coordinating organisation: United Nations Global Service Center (UNGSC)
  • You can contact the organiser sending a mail to un.mappers@un.org
  • The hashtags used in changeset comments are #UNGSC, #UNMappers
  • The activity is running from November 2018 and has not any planned ending date
  • Data used for editing may come from non-standard sources. Anyway any import will be discussed with import mailing list and data will be made available. All the imports and the non-standard data sources are explained at Unite Maps Initiative/UN Mappers
  • In Unite Maps Initiative we are editing both with an internal mapping facility and using crowdsourcing. Internal mappers commonly have "UNGSC-" prefix in their usernames, and comment their changesets with #UNGSC. External contributors comment with #UNMappers.
  • The performance of contributors is dynamically controlled with the Unite Maps Initiative/UN Mappers/Leaderboard, which updates every day.
  • Unite Maps Initiative is organising the Unite Maps Training Hub, a Moodle facility to deliver trainings. Stay tuned!
  • During the events that will be held for this Initiative, validation will happen during social gatherings to train newbie mappers to edit correctly and consistently later. Validation after mapping activity is conducted both from external contributors and internal validators, with a final quality check done by internal mappers.

Subpages