Feed on

We cordially invite all interested to our forthcoming talk next Monday about data shared online which provide geographic information. Dr. Michael Bauder from the Institute for Environmental Social Sciences and Geography, University of Freiburg, will report about the relation between material space and virtual space represented by so-called Ambient Geospatial Information from social media platforms. He demonstrates related research opportunities in the field of tourism research.

The dialectic of space in Ambient Geospatial Information

Dr. Michael Bauder, Institute for Environmental Social Sciences and Geography, University of Freiburg

In the past few years, volunteers have produced geographic information of different kinds, using a variety of different crowdsourcing platforms, within a broad range of contexts. However, there is still a lack of clarity about the specific types of tasks that volunteers can perform for deriving geographic information from remotely sensed imagery, and how the quality of the produced information can be assessed for particular task types. To fill this gap, we analyse the existing literature and propose a typology of tasks in geographic information crowdsourcing, which distinguishes between classification, digitisation and conflation tasks. We then present a case study related to the “Missing Maps” project aimed at crowdsourced classification to support humanitarian aid.
We use our typology to distinguish between the different types of crowdsourced tasks in the project and choose classification tasks related to identifying roads and settlements for an evaluation of the crowdsourced classification. This evaluation shows that the volunteers achieved a satisfactory overall performance (accuracy: 89%; sensitivity: 73%; and precision: 89%). We also analyse different factors that could influence the performance, concluding that volunteers were more likely to incorrectly classify tasks with small objects. Furthermore, agreement among volunteers was shown to be a very good predictor of the reliability of crowdsourced classification: tasks with the highest agreement level were 41 times more probable to be correctly classified by volunteers. The results thus show that the crowdsourced classification of remotely sensed imagery is able to generate geographic information about human settlements with a high level of quality. This study also makes clear the different sophistication levels of tasks that can be performed by volunteers and reveals some factors that may have an impact on their performance.


Porto de Albuquerque, J., B. Herfort, M. Eckle (2016): The Tasks of the Crowd: A Typology of Tasks in Geographic Information Crowdsourcing and a Case Study in Humanitarian Mapping. Remote Sensing. 2016, 8(10), 859; doi:10.3390/rs8100859.

The last couple of days the pictuesque city of Chambery became a gathering place for humanitarian actors, researchers and organizations. CartONG organized their biannual GeOnG conference in their headquarter city. This years conference was at the same time the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the NGO. CartONG is a French non-governmental organization that fosters the use of geographic information tools to improve data gathering and analysis. Hereby they work in close collaboration with humanitarian aid and emergency relief organizations as well as development programmes.

Attendants of the GeOnG had the chance to learn about current practices and projects, the latest technologies and developments in workshops, round tables, panels, lightning talks and speed geeking sessions faciliated by CartONG and provided by international organizations, actors and researchers including Médicins sans frontières, UN OCHA, UNHCR, British Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Cross, the Digital Humanitarian Network and MapAction.
Benjamin Herfort, Melanie Eckle and Marcel Reinmuth attended the conference to present current research and projects of the GIScience research group and to share their knowledge regarding OSM methods.

They organized a half day workshop in which attendants with different levels of OSM experience could learn about and test different methods of OSM data import and export.

Benjamin Herfort and Melanie Eckle were moreover invited as panelists to round tables on the use of Big data and the use for the humanitarian field and Crowdsourcing for humanitarian programming.

We thank the CartONG team for facilitating this interesting gathering and are looking forward to taking our collaboration further.

We would like to cordially invite all Master Geography students starting this semester and all interested people to our public Master Welcome Event today. You will have the opportunity to get insights into the GIScience Group Heidelberg and see four very cool short talks about most recent research topics!

See you there: Wed, 19 October 2016, 16:15h, Berliner Str. 48, Lecture Hall

We are looking forward to it

We cordially invite all interested to our forthcoming talk next Monday about the cross-cutting theme of smart city research. Dr Jochen Wendel from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology will report about an open data infrastructure that allows data storage, data exchange, data analysis, as well as data visualization across projects and domains. He illustrates approaches that help overcoming existing obstacles in terms of a lack of interoperability, which is a major impediment to implementing smart city approaches, and seriously hinders further developments.

The n-dimensional city - Analyzing multidimensional data for smart cities approaches

Dr. Jochen Wendel / European Institute for Energy Research (EIFER), KIT Karlsruhe
Mon, Oct 24, 2016, 2.15 pm; Venue: INF 348, Lecture Hall (Room 015)

Last week members of the GIScience group Heidelberg contributed two talks to the final COST ENERGIC meeting, which was held at the historic Oondatje Theatre of the Royal Geographical Society in London. On Thursday, Benjamin Herfort and Melanie Eckle talked about the latest achievements, current state and future avenues of data quality assessments in OpenStreetMap. René Westerholt provided a wrap up of the state of spatiotemporal social media analysis on Friday. He completed his talk with a range of key messages for prospective developments in the field.

Melanie, Benjamin and René during their talks

Melanie, Benjamin and René during their talks

The interdisciplinary colloquium series of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE) starts with GIScience by a talk of Bernhard Höfle about “3D Geodata in Environmental Research” on 24 October 2016 and was now announced via press release.

Furthermore, Alexander Zipf will give a talk about “Crowdsourcing of Geodata for Humanitarian Aid” on 14 November 2016, which is also a research focus of the future Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT).

The talks will take place at the Neue Universität, Lecture Hall 15, 4:00 p.m.


The Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE) helps to sustainably combine existing competences available at Heidelberg University in the area of environmental sciences and initiates new research projects. Going beyond the traditional boundaries of a specific subject or discipline, the HCE aims at providing academic solutions to existential challenges and ecological effects of natural, technological and societal changes on human beings. The “Heidelberg Bridge” colloquium is a lecture series that focuses on these issues and creates a platform for interdisciplinary exchange and communication with the public.

New HistOSM 2 released

For all people who are interested in historic features of the OpenStreetMap dataset a complete new worldwide map service has been published. It is extending the original old HistOSM (*) from 2009 considerably.


As of October 2016 you can find 638.284 objects that were tagged ‘historic’ all over the world. The range of object types is almost inexhaustible. It varies from buildings, castles, memorials, archaeological sites or ship wrecks to more exotic or unexpected features like meteor craters, Celtic earthworks, charcoal piles, aircrafts or boundary stones. While browsing the map there is an additional dynamic chart that informs about the frequency of the different objects in the current map view. Further information from the individual objects, inclusive an image preview (where available), can be obtained by clicking on the features.

It’s implemented using OpenLayers 3, D3.js and Semantic UI. The place search is powered by Nominatim and the background OSM layer is from OpenMapSurfer. This is dynamically gray-scaled by a HTML5 canvas composite operation inside the OpenLayers rendering pipeline in the client.

Cartographically interesting, a scale based switch from linear to point representation for individual objects is applied for better readability.

Check it out and have fun.

Ref. old HistOSM realized 2009:

Auer, M., Fees, M. & Zipf, A. (2010): HistOSM.org – ein Webportal zu historischen und archäologischen Stätten und Sehenswürdigkeiten auf Basis der nutzergenierten Daten von OpenStreetMap (OSM). AGIT 2010. Symposium für Angewandte Geoinformatik. Salzburg. Austria.

HistOSM 2

HistOSM 2

Next Wednesday, René Westerholt will talk about the spatial analysis of Twitter data. The talk is part of the “WISC Seminar Series,” which is hosted by the Warwick Institute for the Science of Cities at University of Warwick, Coventry, UK. The talk starts by highlighting the types of spatial analyses that have been conducted so far. Common mistakes and misunderstandings are outlined by briefly reviewing selected studies. Afterwards, René will report about recent results regarding the effects of ignoring the specific characteristics of social media data. The talk closes with reflections about future prospects.

The HOT Tasking Manager is the tool where most of the work of the Missing Maps community and members happens. The projects created tell us a lot about the current mapping efforts and also show where we already succesfully mapped basic infrastructures like roads and human settlements. Tools like OSMatrix or OSM Analytics try to find ways to visualize how the OpenStreetMap changed over time. Nevertheless, we still don’t have a map of all Missing Maps projects! We think, that it is time to change this. That’s why the disastermappers heidelberg / GIScience Heidelber team had a closer look at the HOT Tasking Manager and extracted all the information related to the Missing Maps project.


Overall, there are 268 projects in the Tasking Manager which have “Missing Maps” in their name. Most of these projects are located in Africa, but there is also a considerable number in Carribean and South Asian countries like Honduras, Haiti or Bangladesh. And there is even a Missing Maps Tasking Manager project in Japan (#1699).


When looking at the number of projects created per month, this leads to encouraging results. Since the first Missing Maps project created in November 2014, projects are constantly created. In terms of projects created 2016 was definitely a phenomenal year for the Missing Maps project. In march 2016 35 projects were created, most of them by the American Red Cross. In collaboration with Red Cross partners in the Bahamas, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru these projects addressed local hazards and vulnerabilities in dozens of disaster-prone communities. The “Map South Kivu” project led by MSF is one of the projects, where projects were created over a longer time period (more than 12 month and there is still a lot to map!). By now, 18 projects has been created to map this part of DRC that, for decades, has faced unceasing humanitarian crises.

Most of the projects (70%) are completely mapped. Nevertheless, progress is still needed regarding the validation of the contributed map data. Only half of the projects which are completed are also validated to more than 95%. This underlines, how important it is to encourage the mappers of today to become the validators of tomorrow.

Want to have a look at the map yourself? We created a uMap for you:

Further information regarding the Missing Maps projects can also be found at the diasastermappers heidelberg news blog.

Older Posts »