Four days, two conferences and many new friends. Last week we had the inspiring opportunity to meet the global mapping community at the HOT Summit and State of the Map in Brussels.

Sandra and I are back in Sweden after an immensely worthwhile week in Brussels. Technology has come a long way, but there is a very intangible benefit of meeting people face to face, especially those you’ve known digitally for a long time. The OpenStreetMap community is a broad one and it’s inspiring to see that the conference included both the old guard and people new to the fold.

HOT Summit

Our trip began with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) Summit on Thursday. The purpose of this event was to bring together the myriad of organizations and individuals who have been working together to ensure that maps are available in the communities that need it most. HOT has gone from strength to strength in recent years and in many ways the summit showcased the achievements that have already been made. It was also a chance to look forward towards all the work still to be done.

We were particularly excited to attend because we were able to provide four of our HOT kits to recipients. Sandra also gave a talk on the Mapillary Humanitarian Mapping Kit project. Overall, it was a productive day and we gained a lot of insight into how street-level photos can better equip humanitarian initiatives in a variety of scenarios.

Mapillary Humanitarian Mapping Kit Three of the mapping kits were handed out to projects in Ivory Coast, Tanzania and Bangladesh

We rounded out the day with the Missing Mapathons which was a load of fun and very well organized. It says a lot that the event was filled to capacity and we had two full rooms of people mapping late into the evening.

SotM 2016

On Friday we woke up bright and early and headed to day 1 of SotM 2016. The day was hectic from start to finish in the best kind of way. It blew us away how supportive the community is of our crowdsourced project, and throughout the day we received some fantastic feedback on everything from photo walks to which computer vision libraries we should be using. We’ve spent our first days back sharing all this feedback with the team.

On day 2, i.e. Saturday, we had the privilege of getting a lightning talk slot in the morning. It was a useful exercise to introduce and describe Mapillary in just 5 minutes. Some of the audience heard about Mapillary for the first time, so we hope they’re now excited to photo map their area. For those that already contribute, there are many unique features our team has been working on, all of which will help to grow OpenStreetMap.

In particular, semantic segmentation will allow us to detect all kinds of objects and crowdsource the machine learning aspect of this. Over time we aim to grow the classes that are detected in much the same way that the tags in OpenStreetMap have expanded and been documented overtime.

Mapillary SotM 2016 booth The Mapillary band at State of the Map in Brussels

#MapillaryPhotoWalk

On Sunday, the last day of SotM, we had a photo walk around the campus of Vrije Universiteit Brussel. It’s the best way to demonstrate how easily one can create a visual representation of their environment using Mapillary. 25 people, both Mapillary veterans and new mappers, showed up to the photo walk, and lots of tips and tricks were shared around. Don and Rachel, both students at the University, helped us find our way around the campus. We learnt a few things about how to organise a photo walk more efficiently - see our wiki for the best tips.

A massive thank you to the organizing team at SotM. They seem to have thought of everything which allowed attendees to focus on getting the most of out of the three days. We also would like to thank our ambassadors Jean-Louis Zimmermann and Shravan Shah who were a great support throughout - it was really fun hanging out with you. Looking forward to the next time!

//Ed and Sandra

Tags for this post: community openstreetmap humanitarian events
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