While in Limonade, Haiti for 6 weeks, April 30 - June 22, I was a part of HOT’s project, in partnership with the Universite d’Etat Haiti and USAID, to help teach mapping and OSM skills to 60 mappers and establish an OSM community in Northern Haiti. Here’s a snapshot of what a typical (although most days were not typical, this was a typical as it was) day consisted of.
6:45a - Shower with water from the house well, dressed, breakfast. The 15 housemates - 12 Advanced Mappers, two local coordinators, and 3 other HOT coordinators - begin to wake up within the hour.
Read and reply to new emails.
Also used this time to learn python, thanks to Zed Shaw’s Learn Python the Hard Way
8:10 All 16 of us - 12 Advanced Mappers, two local coordinators, and 4 HOT coordinators pile into 2 vans to the Universite d’Etat d’Haiti’s Computer lab where we worked out of for the majority of our time there. The 12 advanced mappers and the 2 local coordinators were participants in last year’s St. Marc project and were relatively experienced with editing in OSM.
We established a system with 6 teams consisting of 2 Advanced mappers who supervised 10 novice mappers (participants whom had not edited OSM before they were hired at the beginning of the program in March) whose daily activities would rotate every 3 days. Each day, 2 teams would spend their day in the field surveying, 2 other teams remained at the computer lab, tracing buildings in anticipation of the following day’s field surveying or adding POIs that they recorded via GPS traces during their field surveys, and the remaining 2 teams’ novice mappers were off. The 4 advanced mappers of the team off would assist at the computer lab and continue editing. As necessary, we’d hold workshop days where all 60 mappers were in attendance for workshops and presentations on QGIS, and cartography and GIS concepts.
8:25 Our day at the university begins in the computer lab. !
The advanced mappers print out field papers and set up the equipment, gps, laptops for the day. Our 40 novice mappers would be arriving for the day at 9:00. I’d cross my fingers for the internet at the university to be functional for the day. As the 1,800 studens began to arrive for classes at the university, the internet slows to a crawl.
Throughout the day, I troubleshooted whether the current technical troubles, usually mappers unable to load bing imagery or map data from OSM, or upload changesets in JOSM, was caused by any problems within the local network on our end and if anything, what I could do to fix it.
Besides the on-site tech support, I’d help mappers by answering questions about what tags to use for features (for example, a window factory, a video arcade, driving school), basic josm usage, and other OSM related editing questions.
The project also focused on improving how HOT can more effective display and classify OSM data within the contexts of Haiti, other lesser developed areas, and in humanitarian contexts. During the day, I also worked on the HDM josm style, a custom map styling that customizes the display of OSM data in JOSM as users draw buildings, waterways, paths, and other points of interests to upload into OSM. Later, I also helped ybon (Yohan Boniface) with the HOT web map rendering described here. Still a work in progress, I’ve been stoked to work on this with Yohan and it’s coming along great. See this umap instance for an updated demo and an overview of its features. Check it out on github if you’re interested to contribute.
Fellow coordinators and I would also occasionally browse the changesets of our mappers to make sure they were mapping correctly. We had a couple RSS feeds set up for the area through whodidit to ensure mappers were actually uploading changesets and how much they were doing. The changeset history analyzer(currently offline) was also helpful as well to examine changesets to make sure our mappers’ changes were correct. OSMHV’s ability to display the specific tag changes that were made to an object as really useful as well.
Noon - Lunch time ! Outside the university grounds, were an assortment of makeshift roadside stands of rice and beans, fried chicken, egg sandwiches, and more.
3:45 - Our novice mappers leave for the day. Advanced mappers continue to map, inventory and begin to store equipment used during the day by the novice mappers and the teams in the field surveying.
5:00 - A wrap-up meeting of the day’s events with the advanced mappers, how field surveying went, updates on future meetings, mapping parties, and other events.
6:00 - Head back to the house for a combination of: surfing the internet, an informal meeting over Prestige, Haiti’s national beer with coordinators, reading, or Hanging out with the housemates. Many mappers had not used Ubuntu before and fell quickly in love with it. Several mappers who had their own personal laptops asked me and Yohan to walk them through installation and basic usage.
8:15 - Dusk, dinner at the roadside stalls is now available.
10-12:30 sleep awaits.