WikiProject Haiti/Tasks and Ideas

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WikiProject Haiti Mapping coordination · New mapper · Status · Earthquake maps data · Imagery · Data sources · Tasks and ideas · Street names · Public transport · Weekly meetings · News · Press mentions · Press info
  • WikiProject revisions: Revisions to front page of WikiProject completed = everything consolidated into a single table or moved to different pages. --Ceyockey 16:34, 30 October 2011 (UTC)
  • WikiProject revisions: Revisions are underway (slowly) to revise the WikiProject from crisis-response to mapping-as-usual mode. --Ceyockey 16:34, 30 October 2011 (UTC)
  • On-the-ground: Fourth deploy write-up - 2010-09-08
  • On-the-ground: HOT Mission 3 complete [1] - 2010-06-28
  • Hot website launched with blog category 'Haiti' - 2010-05-??
See also blog, twitter

Tasks and Ideas

Miscellaneous things (to categorize/do)

  • Update the "Mappers in Haiti" wiki page (or rather, create it). Photos of mappers in Haiti could be a good thing (thinks JaakkoH)
  • Get active mappers to join the talk-ht email list
  • Help people add at least some information about themselves to their OSM user page (and the wiki page if they have a wiki account): Link between these two pages if both exist!
  • Get people to join Friday afternoon mapping parties/meetups at GRU Resource Center (
  • Find out if more Bing coverage can be obtained for areas that already had Bing coverage in November 2010!
  • Update/clean-up WikiProject_Haiti pages. Perhaps start with this page?

Mapping Tasks

Major projects

  • Fixing excess highway=tertiary into unclassified, residential, track, path, service, ... _or_ road (when not sure!)
    • This is a major project and of high importance for general usability of the map
  • Fixing POI placement: Many many POIs are exactly or almost in the middle of the road. These need to be moved _when you know what is the correct direction & better location to move them to!_
  • Tracing from new Bing imagery: shows Bing coverage of Hispanola
    • a _lot_ of new coverage. Among many tracing possibilities e.g. landuse=residential (forest, farmaland), major buildings, new roads, river banks, what-not can be easily traced from the now available imagery.
    • also detailed coast can be traced pretty much all over Haiti. (advanced tracing, eih?)
  • Clean-up spelling of POIs (CApS issueS, etc)
  • merge duplicate or almost duplicate POIs (many schools, hospitals, camps, etc)* seems that quite a number of camps have website= tag with a number that refers to households residing at the camp (from last fall). This messes up things on sites that show website information from OSM. e.g. [2]
    • On another note: Many of the same camps seem to have a name but don't show up on the map
  • Creating an appropriate "Haiti tags list" that would have the necessary/used tags so that they also get rendered (when there's space / etc criteria match)
    • As of May 2011 many shops, offices, etc don't seem to get rendered
    • ensure that needs of humanitarian tagging and other (what?) needs get taken in consideration

Large projects

  • Adding new POIs: shops, restaurants
    • see info below on details to add whenever possible
  • Adding details to existing POIs: address (:street, :housenumber, :city, :country), telephone, website

Minor fixes

  • Highway class changes (Many).
  • Merging duplicate highways; at least the ones that stick out badly to the eye. e.g.
    • new primary highways almost on top of existing secondary highways (Jacmel, Cayes Jacmel, etc)

Mapping tasks from 2010

  • Mapping: There was a request on the crisis mappers mailing list for better river labeling. Most main rivers are in OSM but some may not be labeled. Some smaller rivers are unlabeled, or may not be in OSM at all. There are many topos available to use as reference, and a list of all ways in Haiti tagged as waterway=river. More information at WikiProject Haiti/Tasks and Ideas/RiverLabeling
  • Mapping: The NOAA, 2010-01-24 imagery shows that the main river near Jacmel is good but the other rivers and streams need to be looked at again.
  • Mapping: The area to the west of Jacmel, over the river, needs tidying using the NOAA, 2010-01-24 imagery.
  • Mapping: there was a request on the talk-ht mailing list to map under served slums in Port-au-Prince. OpenSGI provides a map overlay displaying the neighborhoods in need for mapping efforts. There are areas outlined in red (highest priority), yellow (medium priority), and blue (low priority).
  • Mapping: Map the village of Côtes de Fer. Use NOAA imagery from 2010-01-20 source=NOAA, 2010-01-20. Some roads are already mapped, but they should be tagged highway=residential instead of highway=road and there are unmapped roads. Map the main residential areas and tag them with landuse=residential. Adjust the already mapped individual buildings to NOAA imagery. Map the beach at the sea side (natural=beach). East of the village center there is probably an unmapped refugee camp, north of the village probably too. The river west of the village doesn't have a name on CIA maps - can you find a name in other public domain maps? Also map the populated areas on the other side of the river, along the main road to the west.
Update: I've done chunks of this, but it's not really finished. In the village, east of the marked displacement camp is a area that had been marked as residential, but I can't make out whether that's existing huts or tents. Clara [3]
  • Mapping: There has been a request to map Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) sites/ spontaneous camps across Haiti and the Dominican republic. It is likely camps mapped at the beginning of the emergency will change over time.
  • Street names: follow the instructions in this page to help completing the OSM data with street names known from other sources
  • Placing Schools: follow the instructions in this page to help place schools in OSM from addresses

Completed Tasks

Currently for Haiti - "Now"

Please contribute your ideas and needs here for non-mapping needs. Take on tasks that look interesting and useful. It's important to improve our work as mapping and response progresses.

Ground assistance

  • Establish a Map Pipeline to get Haiti Base Map Atlases distributed freely in hard copy and large quantities to the community of responders in Haiti.
    • For areas where base map completion is reached or close to be such based on field knowledge
    • Map Features: roads/ streets, main infrastructures, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) sites/ spontaneous camps, Search and Rescue (SAR) sectors, street names and lowest levels of administrative boundary. Port Au Prince as the first area to start with pending field confirmation.
    • Product can be the Atlas series compiled by the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at Delta State University used street data from openstreetmap or similar products
    • Requirements: maps must render on Black and White and A4 print size.
    • Audience and benefits: (i) all responders, (ii) particularly low-resourced NGOs and Haitian communities and (iii) GIS Mapping community with less printing work.
  • PDFs, see [4] for efforts already going on. Needs coordination. See "Printable and Static Maps".
  • KML vector output
  • Easy feature based filter. Extract along commonly needed thematic areas (transport, water/sanitation, health, response logistics)... data users don't know that OSM covers more than roads!
    • Provide examples of needed thematic maps; develop custom mapnik/osmarender stylesheets
      • Kosmos provides a quick way to build simple thematic maps direct from the regular Geofabrik updates. An example I've created is here -- SK53 15:43, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Custom renderer stylesheets: an easy way to display the temporary info.
  • Custom osm-to-garmin conversion: an easy way to put the temporary info in Garmin GPS units.
    • Different files for different needs: Search-and-Rescue (display damaged buildings and SAR areas, but no depots), logistics (display depots, airfields, but no buildings), medical...
    • Again (as for Kosmos) GroundTruth provides a simpl(ish) interface for building overlays. SK53 15:43, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Garmin download comparison: Easy idea for someone with a garmin unit. Try out the different garmin downloads, and take a photo of your unit showing a map of central Port-Au-Prince. Create a wiki page here for a visual side-by-side comparison.
  • Renderings with street names more apparent. Stamen is working on this.

Map improvement

  • Merging the different WMS layers, so that in those areas JAXA is available but in others not, could help to avoid not tracing from the best imagery. If we could use some kind of domain name that will automatically point to the current WMS, this would also be great. Some might save the WMS layers in their editor and not look in the Wiki again, so changing this automatically would help there and wouldn't cause confusion. Adding some DNS round robin mechanism could help to spread load. --John07 21:38, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
    • There was talk of making a custom wmsplugin for JOSM with just the necessary urls, or maybe incorporate lists so that a user can easily choose which ones to use. Lists should get updated from a url (similar to how the plugin lists are gotten) when JOSM is started.
    • Jeff Harrison at CarbonProject/CubeWerx is working on consolidating WMS servers via Cascading WMS and has a prototype solution Discussion -DruidSmith 21:00, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Simple guide for tracing for beginners. We have a lot of new mappers interested to help.
    • Kate Chapman has developed a video tutorial: YouTube -DruidSmith 21:00, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Offline geocoder/WikiProject Haiti/Gazeteer. an XLS or CSV would work great for use on the ground.
  • Adapter for editing OSM in ArcMap. We could ask ESRI to kick this in.
    • This is possible to some extent with ArcSDE w/ PostGIS support, plus osm2pgsql
    • Some solutions have come up, not sure they're documented fully yet -- Mikel
  • Clarity on what places have been sufficiently mapped, for what thematic areas, and how recently (there was this tool in German we were looking at the other day...)
    • Already live on --Colin Marquardt
      • source look at [5] --Jan Tappenbeck 18:12, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
      • I have been having major problems with switching between image sets in this tool. Recommendations? --Ceyockey 12:34, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
      • Aside from its' obvious usefulness toward assessing completeness of mapping, osm-matrix could also be used by map editors toward systematically digitizing. Toward this end, it might be helpful to be able to view the osm-matrix grid lines in Merkaartor / JOSM / etc... On another note, it would be good to know who the author is for suggesting other potential enhancements and ways for others to contribute to its' development as well (currently, OSM login in the matrix tool does not appear to work, et cetera) -DruidSmith 22:01, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Clean guidelines for mapping in the coming weeks ... we're going to be getting very specific in order to be useful to responders as the response unfolds.
  • Harmonization/ standardization work on (i) Humanitarian/ Disaster tags and symbols for OSM in use for this Haiti crisis Disaster-specific tagsand Humanitarian_OSM_Tags
  • adapted for OSM
  • Apps targeted towards editing, updating, detailing, verifying, particular themes ... like medical, refugee camps. Keep up to date with new imagery, new population estimates. Make tasks more manageable as jobs, mturk style.
  • we need a central email adress where teams can direct send gps-data. a webinterface with a few field for information about source, organisation, comments, would more better. i ask some organisation about gps-data from the people in haiti - look at ask4data
  • additional a map would be nice to have where the upload gps-data of haiti can be show. so it is easier to see where data, which area will be border by the data. merge this data with a tool like osm-matrix would be good for the organiation.
i create a simple map to show existings gps-tracks in haiti - to show ohter tracks send them to Lübeck - i integrate them manuel. in time the informations only in german ! --Jan Tappenbeck 11:00, 3 February 2010 (UTC) - base could be found at [6]
  • data, which will be post-referenze by lokal tracks should be tag by a special information - like post-referenz=yes
  • How do we effectively receive updates from responders ... whether OSM edits, GPS traces, narratives, etc ... and get them into OSM? When dealing with their primary responsibilities first? The heavy lifting of synthesizing all this data into a common database can still be remote ... but we need a good data flow.
    • Walking Papers is great for ground-level detail. Most experienced mappers can make sense of a napkin sketch sent from a phone photo -- do we want a clearinghouse for this sort of thing?
      • We want more people on the ground to contribute changes. This means mobile phones + radio reports (walkie-talkie) + paper reports.
        • Suggestion: A simple email address ( to which images, text, GPX can be sent. Also a Twitter scraper for a Twitter ID. Those are presented in a work list with markable statuses (eg: not processed, in progress, done, bogus). Mappers can download items and mark them as they see fit; when they do, the originator is replied with a status change. Compare Ushahidi's sms2geo service. Does anyone have the spare code-fu?
  • More transparent means of consuming WMS URLs for digitization in OSM tools, i.e. support and parse OGC GetCapabilities, for JOSM WMS Plugin -DruidSmith 20:53, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Create a josm-preset to different buildings easier - now all grey !!!! --Jan Tappenbeck 19:41, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
    • Create JOSM presets for the Disaster-specific tags - here you can find a beginning. important is an alternative view for buildings grey building are difficult to see on images. See subpage JOSM
  • If wiki editing is a problem for you, use OSM-Emergencies to post your request (on the purple line along the coast of Haiti), for a wiki Editor to process it (Comment tag: Wiki Editing Request, use description for the request). See also Haiti Symbolic Project (with correction: use Comment=Haiti Symbolic Project).
  • Find contacts in the press and let them know in particular about the emergency needs in News, for which people knowing Haiti, or even just little parts of it, would be highly welcome. More public awareness to get diffuse knowledge and information into OSM would also be welcome.

Project management

  • Project Management, also.
  • Clean up the wiki page, especially the WMS links. Suggestions/inspiration for layout here
  • Clean guides and updates for users, so they don't have to wallow through our wiki to find the key resources. Think a one page PDF.

OSM awareness

  • Find contacts with Haiti-involved NGOs and GOs and make sure they know about the mobile apps, GPS extracts, paper maps, and routing-around-damaged-roads services available here.

Future (next crisis) - lessons learned

Needs better merging with lessons at the bottom.

  • Easy-to-deploy OSM map server. Pack a live CD with osm2pgsql, mapnik, osm2garmin, PDF stuff, whatever. Goal should be get a laptop to the crisis site, hook up a sattelite data connection, specify a bbox, and be able to have all the OSM maps in there, in multiple formats (PDF, Garmin, tiles), auto-updating via osm2pgsql and minutely planet diffs.
    • Bonus points if the live CD has desktop GIS (gvSIG, QGIS, whatever) and fleet tracking software.
    • Bonus points if it integrates with a stand-alone Sahana.
    • Bonus points if we can get funding to develop such a live CD in the next few months.
  • Frederik Ramm (on talk-de) suggested that we create a special database based on the OSM database software and tools for those scenarios in the future. It should be PD, so everyone can easily get and add data. Once the crisis is over, OSM can then get the data out of this database, cut off some special tags that were used for data assessment and put it in the main OSM database. I think that's quite what we need. --John07 17:31, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
I want to sound a note of extreme caution on this idea. Done in a half-assed way, I can well imagine this would just create a lot of confusion, duplicated effort, make it harder for people to find our best maps, and create massive merging headaches. I really hope someone doesn't attempt this during a future crisis, without thinking it through fully beforehand (i.e. before the crisis happens). -- Harry Wood 00:48, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Develop a crisismapping wiki template to have a clear structure available really fast.
  • summarize what we did good and what we need to better, first try follows, makes more sense when crisismapping in Haiti settles.
  • osm and other vector data set providers recommendation: provide only changesets, to aid synchronization
  • develop relationships with imagery providers, and UNOSAT through the Disaster Charter, to smooth access to imagery in future crisis
  • See also JOSM lessons learned
  • how well are multiple vector data sources conflated? which entity is best to collect what (damage assessment for example)? can we encourage changesets in other data sets, to aid synchronizing?
  • can we identify key roles and resources to pattern for next crisis
  • bundle the information of "What needs to be mapped?", osm-matrix, wms-border etc. in one map. know you had to view some maps and compare the information.
  • a simple interface for define borders (ex. area to map) by pick some points. the result is a url that can use for another page in which the border will autom. draw. it make 3rd. persons easier to define areas. --Jan Tappenbeck 16:30, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
  • consistent tags for imagery border and relations --Jan Tappenbeck 11:19, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

What we did


+ Asking commercial image providers for free images for tracing - and we got them. Very nice

- Use free (or out of copyright ) maps - Place names are very important and get sourced from google if we don't offer them.


+ Trace roads to offer a baselayer to professionals - this got used several times.

+ Map refugee camps - Looks very impressive in media coverage.

- Mapping broken houses - there are just too many of them, and the professionals do their own damage assessment anyway.

  • JOSM
+ Transver the area from JOSM to osm-matrix.
+ possiblity to add autom. a source-tag when a wms-image is active.
+ import a list of avaible wms-service from a wiki-site.
  • Potlatch
  • Merkaartor

+ Rapidly updating extracts - A lot of things is based of that

+ Talk to service authors - lots of them are willing and able to provide fast updating copies for their service based on the extracts.


- Many people lack the knowledge (or time) to do advance wiki work. As a result the pages grow quite unclear and confusing.

What we could do

This is a suggestion of organisation of what could be done in advance

  • Develop keywords for different kinds of disasters (earthquake, tsunami, etc.) in advance. - Schwedenhagen 21:27, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
On the wiki
  • news subpage with summaries of discussions on IRC and crisis channels to orientate the work near the needs (all the ants can follow this discussions). Kind of blog. WikiProject Haiti/News
  • set of templates : see (and comment on talk page) Humanitarian OSM Templates
    • templates (to paste on user pages) and categories for people involved : mapping zone, wiki competences, ground contacts, availability, dev... to quickly see where people are and where they are needed.
    • generic templates for headers, news subpages...
  • Fine tune mapping completion matrix categories
    • suggestions can be send to the email address that is mentioned on the tool website (impressum)