Imagine if you wanted to undertake a project like this for Hanoi… unfortunately it can be discouraging from the outset. – Koreller
Around early 2023, I’ve mapped rural areas of Hanoi and determined to never map urban areas of Hanoi ever again because of the crappy imagery. Three things have happened:
- Be (a Vietnamese ride-sharing company) is currently working on a unpublicized project of integrating OpenStreetMap into its app. In that process, the company has uploaded a lot of 360 images of Hanoi and Saigon to Mapillary. I don’t need to survey and walking around inside alleyways like an idiot anymore.
- Watching and studying Koreller’s edits to Pyongyang help me to develop techniques for mapping with crappy imagery.
- Esri’s has updated Hanoi imagery, making it just a little bit clearer to see.
I decided to fix my neighborhood first. At the beginning of my OSM journey in 2022, I turned this:
Which to be real is not that impressive. I made a very big mistake of trying to gulf down everything in the block at once, mapping the alleyways, houses, POIs and trees simultaneously and plunging myself into the burnout hole. This time, I divided the kilometer-square city block into smaller city blocks and strictly adhering to the mapping process:
- Check the street names on Mapillary
- Map the houses only with satellite imagery
- Add house numbers and double check house geometry
- Micromap trees and small stuff visible on Mapillary
- Then, and only then, map the POIs.
By rigorously following this cycle, I was able to map around half of the city block in less than 11 days, including a 2 day vacation/break with my family. By far the most time consuming portion of the project is mapping the POIs and dealing with inconsistent house numbers. Anyways, here is the final result (on OSM):
Experience do play a large role on why I mapped Hanoi so fast, but I think another big reason is the Mapillary coverage. A city block that might take a full day to survey now only takes around an hour of scanning around on Mapillary. This is an advantage that Pyongyang mappers can only wish to have ;)
Unlike what Koreller has done to NK, I haven’t mapped Hanoi in its entirely. I expect this to be a multi-year, even a multi-decade project. But I’m very proud to play my part kickstarting the Great Hanoi Housemapping Project. Around two weeks ago, ItsLouisAnderson has mapped POIs and addresses in a few city blocks, and currently both of us are mapping the Vietnam National University and old communist-style apartment buildings downtown. With the extensive Mapillary coverage in Hanoi, it should not be that hard for people outside of Vietnam to contribute towards mapping the city.
My journey on OSM has proven that it’s never too late to map your own neighborhood. And if your city is so well mapped that you have nothing else to do, do consider mapping Hanoi instead :)