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We would like to introduce you to a brand new API of OpenRouteService.org and a revamped route planner with many more features than before. With this major release we have removed XML and introduced a (much) longed for JSON support. You will notice some drastic optimisation in response times and you now have the advantage of using GET requests which makes your design of requests quite a way easier. We have increased the stability and scalability of the API to prevent tedious downtimes. Furthermore you now have the possibility to sign up for the API and receive your key - automatically to your inbox.
In terms of features we have introduced a brand new isochrones endpoint which allows time or distance metrics and is even able to compute multiple locations at once. You will also be able to give our new hiking profile a buzz and even use reverse directions for isochrones which consider topography and special attributes of streets such as one way streets.

OpenRouteService isochrones

OpenRouteService isochrones

All of this comes in a new look with an improved user experience. We have added an easier share functionality of routes and shorter permalinks. You will be able to down- and upload more formats (gpx, tcx, kml and geojson) than before and even export computed isochrones as geojson files. We revamped the route instructions list with toggle functions to keep the list neat and clear for your needs.



Please contact us for feature ideas, improvements or bugs and enjoy consuming the new OpenRouteService API. By the way, you will be able to find the old OpenRouteService.org website here and you will be able to consume the deprecated API serving XML until the end of May.

This work has kindly been supported by the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg though the core-funding for HeiGIT (Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology).

A big thank you to all the mappers that supported the fight against Malaria in our Semester Start Mapathon yesterday!

In three hours, buildings in an area of around 400 km² were mapped that can now be covered in the Clinton Health Access Initiave Malaria program.

Moreover, a TV team of SWR was visiting the event to learn more about disastermapping and the work of disastermappers heidelberg/ GIScience Research Group.

Therefore, all of you that were not able to participate still have the chance to get an overview of our work and yesterdays event in the TV broadcast about the mapathon here: SWR Mediathek (minute 14:40)

In the aftermath of natural disasters an assessment of the impact and damage in the affected area is crucial to enable coordination of response and recovery. While the disaster preparedness and response activations by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team in regard to infrastructure mapping have already proven great potential in various disaster events, due to a lack of accessibility of post-disaster imagery, the available image quality and the general complexity of precise damage mapping using remote sensing, damage assessment using crowdsourcing methods still poses a serious challenge.

The GIScience Research Group currently partners with the Stanford Urban Resilience Initiative (SURI), the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and the University of Colorado, Boulder to address this limitation.

Benjamin Herfort and Melanie Eckle of the GIScience Research Group have been supporting the project by developing experiments to enable area based damage assessments and comparative damage rankings by volunteers. The final experiments will be launched and shared by the end of May. Please find out more about the project here: https://www.hotosm.org/updates/2017-04-26_hot_research_partnership_on_crowdsourced_damage_assessment

Last week, Melanie Eckle of our disaster mapping/ disaster management department (HeiGIT) was invited to do an interview in the radio program “Early bird” of Deutschland Radio Wissen. She provided an overview of the use of OpenStreetMap for disaster management and humanitarian aid and the work of the GIScience Research Group, disastermappers heidelberg, Missing Maps and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. Moreover, listeners had the chance to learn the most important things about mapathons. The full interview is available here (in German): https://dradiowissen.de/early-bird

Sounds interesting? If you would like to find out more and become active yourself please feel free to join our Semester Start mapathon coming Thursday!

Last Thursday our GIScience HD team member Ming Li successfully defended her PhD. The thesis is entitled “Leveraging the Wisdom of the Crowd from Location-based Social Networks: Theoretical Potentials and Practical Applications”.

Thanks to the technical advancements, the mobile users all over the world are collaborating in the location-based social networks (LBSNs) to create a novel type of data that have attracted attentions in both academia and industry. The dissertation attempts to contribute to the existing literature with theoretical understanding and practical explorations of the potentials of this data using the example of Foursquare data. (References).
Congratulations Ming!

We’ve recently finalised the programme of a workshop on “spatial urban analytics with user-generated geographic information”. The event is conjoined with the 2017 International Conference at the Royal Geographical Society in London and is co-chaired by René Westerholt (GIScience Heidelberg). We received methodological as well as empirical contributions, which reflects the breadth of the complex yet highly interesting workshop theme. The workshop consists of two sessions:

Session 1 (chair: João Porto de Albuquerque)

  1. Welcome note - João Porto de Albuquerque (University of Warwick, UK); René Westerholt (Heidelberg University, Germany)
  2. A platform for measuring urban functionality from social media data – Chen Zhong (King’s College London, UK)
  3. The role of mobility in exploring spatial aspects of liveability using big data – Anna Gyori (University of Salzburg, Austria)
  4. Locating the social: Embedding spatial urban analytics into the operation of critical urban infrastructure – Philipp Ulbrich (University of Warwick, UK)
  5. How Twitter and Instagram can locate ‘food deserts’ and predict cancer rate: Studying dietary choices and chronic diseases in food deprivation areas in London – Elisabeth Titis (University of Warwick, UK)

Session 2 (chair: René Westerholt)

  1. The paths to knowledge – Danny Edwards (Edwards Stadsontwerp, Amsterdam)
  2. The use of Nature-inspired paradigms to strengthen Urban Resilience: Systematic Literature Review and Future Trends – Francisco Rivas (University of Granada, Spain)
  3. Characterization of urban blocks and sidewalks based on Volunteered Geographic Information and image-based social media – Tessio Novack (Heidelberg University, Germany)
  4. Kriging algorithm Optimisation for impactful integration into industry utilising a new data source to introduce ‘road distance’ and ‘travel time’ matrices – Henry Crosby (University of Warwick, UK)
  5. Event-Driven Geoprocessing: a system architecture to integrate complex event processing and spatiotemporal analytics - Manuel G. Garcia Alvarez (University of Twente, The Netherlands)

We welcome all prospective attendees who are interested in taking part in vibrant discussions of recent and cutting edge research topics in London! Registration is open and early bird discounts are available through Friday 9 June 2017. Please check out the online information about the conference for further information!

we cordially invite everybody interested to our next open GIScience colloquium talk
on Mon, April 24, 2.15 pm,
at the Department of Geography, Heidelberg University, Im Neuenheimer Feld 348, Lecture Hall, Room 015.
The presentation will be given by Prof. Dr. Christine Pohl (Osnabrück).
The topic is:
The role of multimodal and multitemporal remote sensing in hazard and disaster monitoring

Natural disasters caused by geophysical, climatological, meteorological and hydrological events harm societies and create large damage. Within the disaster management cycle the four phases disaster event, response, recovery and risk reduction greatly benefit from geographical data. The observations of location, frequency and magnitude of the event as well as the information on the destruction of natural resources, infrastructure and settlements often originate from satellite sensors of different types. Remote sensing is a major source of relevant information to support the assessment of hazards as well as the mitigation of the disaster impact. Satellites provide images with different spectral coverage and spatial resolutions on a regular basis. Especially since the availability of Sentinel-1, -2 and -3 imagery large volumes of data are acquired and archived. This enables a very high temporal resolution creating new possibilities in time series and multitemporal image analysis but also poses new challenges. The data is free of charge and can be accessed through different portals. In the process of analyzing the multisensor data there are various options to add value to the data. There is a great benefit from observations with different scales and spectral bands. The combination of different sensors and the monitoring over time delivers valuable insights in the disaster extent and damaged objects, which would not be available from one source alone. The presentation introduces the aspects and benefits of multimodal and multitemporal remote sensing for hazard and disaster monitoring. It provides an overview on existing processing and fusion strategies and illustrates the results using various examples.

(The originally planned talk on 3D city models at this date has been canceled)

Within the exchange and collaboration project 3D-TAIGER (Multi-Source 3D Geoinformation Extraction for Improved Management of Forest and Natural Hazards – Collaboration between TAIwan and GERmany), a further workshop took place in Tainan from Thursday, 06 April 2017 to Monday, 10 April 2017.

Hosted by the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Tainan, the schedule comprised talks of high-ranking scientists and intensive discussions between the involved researchers and students.

On the first day, a series of public talks was provided and well-attended:

  • Opening address by Prof. Chiang (Chairman of the NCKU department of Geomatics) and Prof. Wang (Dept. of Geomatics, NCKU)
  • “Progress in LiDAR-based Monitoring of Natural Hazards and Vegetation” by Prof. Höfle (GIScience and 3D Spatial Data Processing Group, Heidelberg University)
  • “LiDAR Investigation of Landslide and Forests in Taiwan - Part II” by Prof. Wang (Dept. of Geomatics, NCKU)
  • “Object-based Point Cloud Classification using Airborne LiDAR” by Prof. Teo (Dept. of Civil Engineering, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu)
  • “Thermal Environment and Building Energy Consumption Evaluation and Mapping in Complex Urban Area Based on LiDAR and GIS data” by Prof. Lin (Dept. of Architecture, NCKU)
  • “3D Building Model Retrieval System using Airborne LiDAR Point Clouds” by Prof. Lin (Dept. of Geomatics, NCKU)
  • “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle-based Remote Sensing for Forest Inventory Analysis” by Prof. Chen (Dept. of Forestry, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology)

The following Friday included progress reports, the discussion of current projects, and hands-on challenge tackling on a PhD student level (Kuei-Chia Chen, Katharina Anders, Martin Hämmerle) with support of Profs. Wang (Dept. of Geomatics, NCKU), Wu (Dept. of Earth Sciences, NCKU), and Höfle (GIScience and 3D Spatial Data Processing Group, Heidelberg University).

The 3D-TAIGER group also spent the weekend in a geoscientific context: On Saturday, the group examined geological features and geomorphological processes around the Wushanding Mud Volcano Nature Reserve, and on Sunday, the interactions between changing sediment sources and coastal morphology were experienced in the Taijiang National Park.

The workshop was closed on Monday, 10 April with a visit to Prof. Chen (Dept. of Forestry, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology), and a public talk about “Current Frontiers in LiDAR Research” by Prof. Höfle

Many thanks to Prof. Wang, Prof. Wu, Kuei-Chia Chen, and Dr. Mon-Shieh Yang for organizing and conducting the workshop and the framing program!

The exchange between Taiwan and Germans is going on, starting with Dr. Mon-Shieh Yang who arrived already in Heidelberg for a long research stay, and further visits from Tainan to Heidelberg on the PhD and master student level scheduled for summer 2017.

Check also the other blog entries covering 3D-TAIGER!

Heidelberg supports the March for Science and thereby the worldwide initiative for independent science and an open societal discussion on the basis of verifiable, solid facts. Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel, president of Heidelberg University, invites all the members of the university to attend a demonstration on Saturday 22 April in Heidelberg.
Prof. Eitel: “The constitutionally protected freedom of research and teaching, knowledge on the basis of scientific methods and open discussion are indispensable for a democratic society and political decision-making. We intend to stand up for these values together.”

As the oldest university in Germany and one of the most research-intensive in Europe, Heidelberg University is particularly committed to freedom of research and teaching due to its influence throughout history. SEMPER APERTUS – always open – is the motto with which Heidelberg University also professes its responsibility for a knowledge-based dialogue with society and the world of politics.
In Heidelberg the march will start at 3pm from Friedrich Ebert Square and lead through the main street (Hauptstraße). It will conclude with a rally at University Square.

Source: Heidelberg University.

The speaker include among others Theresia Bauer (Minister of Science, Research and Education Baden-Württemberg), Prof. Eitel (Rector Heidelberg University), Michael Strube from HITS, Beatrice Lugger from NaWik and Christina West (Department of Geography Heidelberg University).

Further links:



Join us and support the global March of Science on Earth Day April 22.

Every year, 400 000 people – especially children- die of Malaria, an actually curable disease. The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) is working with governments worldwide to prevent, heal and control malaria (http://www.clintonhealthaccess.org).

Many regions of our world are not covered on a map. Maps are however an important tool for planning vaccination campaigns and for ensuring medical supplies. Places that are not covered in a map are in many cases nonexistent for authorities and other organizations. We want to change this situation – with your help – and map the vulnerable places of the world in OpenStreetMap to support the work of the humanitarian aid organizations.

Therefore, disastermappers heidelberg and HeiGIT/GIScience Research Group invite you to a Semester Start Missing Maps Mapathon!

When? 27.04.2017, 6 pm

Where? Geographisches Institut, Berliner Straße 48

April 25th being the official World Malaria Day, in the Mapathon we will specifically focus on a task of the Malaria Elimination Campaign of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team that is located in Zimbabwe. The information we are collecting during our event will be used directly on the ground to take measures to fight the spreading of malaria.

A member of the Clinton Health Access Initiative’s malaria program, Katelyn Woolheater, will be connected to us via Skype to provide information about the HOT Malaria project and the use of the OpenStreetMap data on the ground.

We will moreover give an introduction into OpenStreetMap mapping, therefore there is no previous knowledge necessary. Just bring your own laptop and mouse if available.

Snacks and drinks will for sure be provided!

We are looking forward to seeing you!

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