Camp Roberts, Open Works

following on from..

OpenStreetMap was just one node in the flow. Through GeoWeb standards .. tiles, GeoRSS, KML .. Sahana was also receiving SMS updates, and DevelopmentSeed built an impressive election monitoring app for Afghanistan.

One piece we didn’t have time to implement was feedback from OSM into Google. Turns out, Sean Wholtman on the enterprise team has developed a process to bring OSM data into Google Fusion! Very eager to see how that develops for Google and OSM.


Preparing for my presentation at the Camp Roberts mapping party, I looked up the above back-of-the-napkin image from my presentation at SOTM two years ago, OpenStreetMap, a disaster waiting to happen. The reflection on the present data integration, data flow, and policy, was startling. Pre-deploy vector and imagery data is gathered. During response, remote sensors in the form of satellite imagery, UAVs (and kites!) are pulled in. Reports are received via SMS and radio. Data is shared among local components, and with the greater web, via lightweight standards. And boggling to me, paper is a two-way medium!

Camp Roberts fulfilled the rough blurry vision of this sketch. Amazing.

But this was just an exercise, right? Turns out all our work is getting immediate use in Afghanistan. Todd Huffman brought a MacMini and portable drive for us to install our work on. The drive got all the imagery. Andrew Turner had already set up the Mini as a GeoCommons appliance, and loaded up loads of data sets for Afghanistan, and locally produced OSM tiles. Walking Papers is there now too.

That MacMini will be installed in the only bar in Eastern Afghanistan. It’s a gathering place for everyone working in the region, from government, NGOs, military and locals. In a social space is a system for social data. This is part of Star-Tides mission, to provide technological solutions that make humanitarian response more effective. Todd is also intending to incorporate Walking Papers in his work with young Afghani geeks at the Fab Lab Afghanistan hacker space, and with construction projects.

Surprising to me, there was simply very little questioning of the crowd sourced approach to data. It was well understood to be effective, and that issues like vandalism and quality are being addressed. The simple proof is that OSM provides the best map of Jalalabad, mostly contributed by Todd. The model works.

final thoughts in the next post