Is Your Life in Danger?

No? Do you have a computer? Yes?

Then you should go here: Typhoon Haiyan – Mapping response. People in the Philippines are dying right now.

In a nutshell, the Red Cross has asked OpenStreetMap for help. They need to know which streets are still open, whether bridges and buildings have been damaged.

DigitalGlobe has supplied hi-res satellite images of the area. Things you can do:

  • Find an open job under the link above (click the link; needs an OpenStreeMap account)
  • As a beginner, try to locate an area which only water.
    • Verify that there is nothing on the satellite images (sometimes, it’s hard to spot small islands on the overview map)
    • If you checked the area, mark it as Done with the comment “Not on land”
    • Congrats, you just saved the other, more experienced mappers a few minutes
  • Knowing a damaged building from an undamaged one takes some experience. But you can use the Bing maps to try to locate buildings that haven’t been mapped so far. I mapped all buildings in the jungle on a remote island, for example. That might not help a lot but it’s a low risk task and at least means that other mappers will only have to validate the island instead of locating and selecting all the buildings.
  • Don’t feel like changing the map? Then validate them: Look for things that were missed and add notes what you spotted.

I suggest you use the JOSM editor for this task. Some setup tips:

  1. Enable Remote Control. That way, you can click on a link on the web site (for example, after selecting a job) and the editor will load all the relevant data
  2. Useful plugins:
    1. ​buildings_tools” if you plan to mark buildings
    2. ​contourmerge” if you want to work on the coastline
    3. notes” so you can see and edit notes
    4. ​todo” if you work on something large

To make it easier to spot damaged / assessed buildings, use a custom color scheme: Damaged buildings crisis mapping

Note: The current satellite images are copyrighted. If you don’t want to sign the agreement, you can still help by mapping the pre-disaster images from Bing; that will help people assess the damage by comparing the old maps with the current state.

If you want to work on the current maps, then you need to click a link in the “OSM Tasking Manager” (the job manager). It will present you with the agreement and display a link that you can click to configure JOSM to display those images as background. Make sure you show/hide the correct layers in the layer list (top right corner).

Important note: Satellite images are sometimes shifted or offset. The effect is that all buildings in an area seem to be at the wrong place (= not where they are on the image). Don’t move the buildings! Instead, shift the offset to align the images with reality (yes, it feels odd that an image made by a satellite could be wrong but they sometimes are).

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