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Many pressing problems of our time - climate change, aging societies, questions of modern medicine - cannot be solved by one discipline alone. It is becoming ever more urgent for scholars to collaborate across disciplines – natural sciences, life sciences, and social sciences, law, and humanities. The Marsilius Kolleg at Heidelberg University is an institutional solution to this situation, bringing together scholars from all disciplines of the university as well as from the surrounding non-university research institutions.

Following the recommendation of the Marsilius Kolleg Selection Committee, the Rectorate of Heidelberg University appointed the new academics as Marsilius Fellows for the Marsilius Fellow Class of 2021/2021. Among them is Prof. Alexander Zipf. He joined up with Prof. Till Bärninghausen from the Heidelberg Institute of Global Health (HIGH) for a joint Marsilius project on

“Climate Change and Health: Improving health care for vulnerable populations in Africa through spatially high-resolution monitoring of the natural and anthropogenic environment”

Climate change is currently the greatest challenge facing humanity. The associated changes in the environment also have a major impact on people’s wellbeing and health. This also has implications for the design of the health system, and in particular for measures to address these effects in the most affected and vulnerable population groups. The health effects of climate change caused in the rich countries of the world are particularly severe in sub-Saharan Africa. Comprehensive and spatially particularly high-resolution data on the natural, built and social environment and the change in the same in these regions are necessary in order to draw scientifically reliable conclusions and to develop and implement countermeasures. Unfortunately, the data situation in these areas is often very poor and there is a need for new concepts to generate high-quality, spatially high-resolution but at the same time potentially very large areas of Africa covering data as a basis for analyzes and modeling in the field of global health. In this Marsilius project, we want to use the example of modeling and measurement of heat and heat stress and related factors to evaluate and validate various collection and simulation methods for the relevant geodata.
In particular, we want to investigate how data from different sources can be combined for this purpose: remote sensing, crowdsourcing and user-generated data, as well as systematic measurements and surveys. In addition to these data sources, we want to conduct small validation studies in three locations in sub-Saharan Africa to measure the extent to which large and large-scale data in small communities allow relevant statements - or whether these data sources need to be hyperlocally adapted.

This collaboration strengthens the existing collaboration between GIScience Research Group at Heidelberg University and the Heidelberg Institute for Global Health and the work at HeiGIT related to health and climate change, e.g. analysing healthcare access around the globe and especially in Africa.

Marsilius Kolleg at Heidelberg University
(Marsilius Kolleg at Heidelberg University)

Related earlier work (selection):

For the first time, the inland dunes in Sandhausen (Baden-Württemberg, Germany) have been captured by UAV-borne photogrammetry and laser scanning. The dunes are a precious habitat for many specialized plants and animals. They formed during the last ice age by sand drift from the Rhine valley. The large inland dunes, originally stretching from Karlsruhe to Mainz, have been wooded and only small areas have kept their initial dune character or have regained it. The sandy substrate and the aridity create grasslands with extreme conditions, which many rare and adapted plant and animal species thrive in (http://duene-sandhausen.de/). To preserve the valuable site conditions, the dune areas in Sandhausen are under protection. Habitats are maintained, e.g., by temporarily grazing sheep, goats, cows, or donkeys, which prevent ecological succession to forest.

The dunes have always been dynamic, both due to natural and anthropogenic influences. This is reflected in the land cover and geomorphology. By 3D data capturing of this unique habitat the 3DGeo research group aims at observing and analysing the current state of the dune areas and their development over the next years. Further acquisitions are planned in the future to uncover and document the dynamics of the areas. This can help understand the response of the vegetation to warming climate, the effects of grazing, or the influence of human activities.

Sandhausen Düne Pflege Schönau im Februar

The nature reserve "Pflege Schönau" in February.

We acquired UAV-borne data of the inland dunes with an RGB camera, taking a series of pictures for photogrammetric reconstruction, and with a 3D laser scanner. Both methods, photogrammetry and laser scanning, can create 3D point clouds, from which we can derive further products, like digital terrain models and vegetation parameters. With the images, we can also derive orthophotos.

With a new multitemporal dataset, we aim to test and develop our methods for 3D change detection, e.g., Anders et al. 2021 and Winiwarter et al. 2021. The dataset can be used as input for HELIOS++, to simulate laser scanning over changing scenes (see also Weiser et al. 2021). This can help to understand which sensors, level of detail, and monitoring frequencies are needed to identify important change types.

Stay tuned: Once we completed all data collection and processing, we will make the dataset openly available for the general public.

Punktwolke der Pferdstrieb-Düne, eingefärbt nach Höhenwerten

Laser scanning point cloud of the nature reserve "Pferdstrieb Süd", colored by height.

Orthophoto of the nature reserve "Pflege Schönau".

Orthophoto of the nature reserve.

Ausschnitt einer Laserscanning-Punktwolke der Düne Zugmantel-Bandholz, eingefärbt nach Höhenwerten.

Section of a laser scanning point cloud of the nature reserve "Zugmantel-Bandholz", colored by height.

Luftaufnahme des Gebiets Zugmantel-Bandholz im Februar (oben) und September (unten).

Aerial view of the nature reserve "Zugmantel-Bandholz" in February (top) and September (bottom).

Im Rahmen der  Aktionstage 2021 des Mannheimer Bündnis, bietet Mannheimer Mapathons e.V. eine offene Diskussionsrunde zum Thema «Humanitäre Kartographie» an.

Auf dem Podium: Melanie Eckle-Elze, Benjamin Herfort (Disastermappers-HD) und Sandra Sudhoff (CartONG-France). Anschließend wird es für alle Teilnehmer*innen eine Gelegenheit geben, an einer «Probefahrt» zur Kartierung auf OpenStreetMap im PC-Raum teilzunehmen.

Die Veranstaltung (live) findet am 13.10 um 18:30 in der Abendakademie in Mannheim, U1 16-19 statt (Bitte: «3G»-Regel beachten!)

The project HEAL (HeiGIT, GIScience, TdLab Geographie) is funded by the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung as part of the research program “Innovation for adaptation to climate change“. HEAL aims at an extension of the openrouteservice to allow the generation of heat avoiding routes, using Heidelberg as a test case. The project aims specifically at vulnerable groups such as elderly or families with small kids and involves the city administration, the Digitalagentur and stakeholders such as the “Akademie für Ältere”. In addition to the shadow routing developed as part of the meinGrün project we aim at the integration of weather forecasts and heat related sensor data.

Last week the HEAL team participated in the Kick-off workshop organized by the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung and took the opportunity to connect with the other seven projects funded as part of the research program. Adaptation to heat stress - that is predicted to increase as a consequence of climate change - is one focus of the research program. Heat minimizing routing and detection of parts of the city that suffer from missing opportunities for heat stress avoiding routes, as part of HEAL might be in the long run linked to projects that study options for street level cooling or seek to assist vulnerable persons to avoid heat stress indoors.

Example of an heat avoiding route

Further information

Last week, the annual conference FOSS4G (Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial) has been taken place online. The conference is organized by The Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) and attracts over 1000 developers, users, decision-makers and observers from a broad spectrum of organizations and fields of operation each year. HeiGIT and MapAction contributed a talk about “Using the ohsome framework to develop an OSM Confidence Index to support humanitarian mapping”. The talk presented how HeiGIT and MapAction are addressing OpenStreetMap data quality questions with the open source ohsome platform to perform in depth data analysis of spatio-temporal statistics of the OSM geo data set. We’ve uploaded the slides for you: foss4g-osm-data-quality

OSM data is used more and more widely, which means that data quality and fitness-for-purpose analyses are becoming more and more relevant. Many scientific papers have been written about OSM data quality, but most only apply methods to few small regions, and results are available for the single point in time when the papers are published. Results are often not easy to replicate, e.g. to check the transferability of a method to other regions. Ideally, one would like to calculate data quality measures on a global context in a fine spatial (and temporal) resolution. Alongside the OSM community, the users of OSM data are manifold: from academics to businesses and humanitarian actors. The OSM community has over 1 million active contributors, around 50,000 of which are active each month. Four out of the “big five” mega-corporations are already using OSM data in their products and are actively contributing to the OSM data set.

Just recently we have released a new version of the ohsome quality analyst (OQT) (0.6.0). New features include new API-endpoints to list available indicators, reports, layers, datasets and feature id fields and the usage of pydantic data models to validate API requests. Please have a look at the CHANGELOG for a more detailed list of changes. The maps below show quality estimations in respect to the completeness of buildings and the currentness of roads in OSM. These have been generated using the command line interface of OQT (stay tuned for a future blog post providing more hands-on examples on how to use OQT locally on your computer). Please note that we are still experimenting with adjusting the threshold functions used to distinguish the three data quality levels. Nevertheless, the maps can provide a first quick overview on where mapping in OSM has been done already, and for which areas more mapping might be needed.

As always we welcome your suggestions and contributions to improve maps such as these.

Figure 1: OSM building completeness in Haiti based on a comparison to the Global Human Settlement Layer population

Figure 2: Currentness of OSM roads in Haiti. This is an intrinsic quality indicator taking into account the share of features edited over the past year.

Related work:

OQT relies on information from the OpenStreetMap (OSM) that has been processed using the ohsome OSM History Data Analytics Platform developed by HeiGIT. The aim of the ohsome framework is to make OpenStreetMap’s full-history data more easily accessible for various kinds of OSM data analytics tasks, such as data quality analysis, on a regional, country-wide, or global scale. Here you find a list of related blog posts and publications:



Das Netzwerk GEOkomm e.V. führt am Donnerstag den 07.Oktober den 14. Technologiesalon durch. Schwerpunktthema sind die Herausforderungen im Bereich kommunaler Infrastrukturen.

GEOkomm e.V. möchte die Herausforderungen in diesem Themenfeld im neuen ZIM-Netzwerk risKI – Resilienz, Integrität und Sicherheit kommunaler Infrastrukturenaufgreifen und im Rahmen der Veranstaltung diskutieren.

Herr Dr. Schilling von virtualcitySYSTEMS GmbH wird die FuE-Aktivitäten und innovative Projekte aus den Bereichen der Klimafolgenanpassung und Stadtsicherheit vorstellen.

In seinem Impulsreferat widmet sich Prof. Zipf den gesellschaftlichen Chancen und Risiken, die im Einsatz von Geodaten und KI im kommunalen Umfeld liegen können.

Details unter https://www.geokomm.de/calendar/technologiesalon/

“International erfolgreiche Wissenschaft ist bislang untrennbar verknüpft mit weltweiter Reiseaktivität. Der vor allem durch Flugreisen verursachte Treibhausgasausstoß steht im Widerspruch zum Klimaschutz. Die Corona-Krise wirkte disruptiv auf etablierte Praktiken des Austauschs und zeigte plötzlich Wege auf, die zuvor kaum denkbar waren. Doch was passiert nach der Pandemie? Wie kann es gelingen, auf den Erfahrungen aufbauend, nicht in die „alte Normalität“ zurückzufallen, sondern eine nachhaltige Weiterentwicklung der Kommunikations- und Kollaborationswege voranzutreiben?” (Aeschbach & Görlinger, 2021)

Dr. Nicole Aeschbach (TdLab Geographie) und Dr. Susann Görlinger reflektieren in einem neu erschienenen Artikel über “Eine neue Art von Nähe: Mehr Nachhaltigkeit im Wissenschaftsbetrieb”. Der Fokus der Publikation liegt auf den Erfahrungen aus dem Projekt “Stay grounded – keep connected” zur Reduktion der Treibhausgasemissionen aus dienstlichen Flugreisen an der ETH Zürich, das Susann Görlinger bis Ende September 2021 leitete und an dem Nicole Aeschbach mitwirkte.

Nicole Aeschbach und Susann Görlinger werden auch in Zukunft gemeinsam am Thema Flugreisenreduktion arbeiten. Nähere Informationen zu einem im Oktober 2021 startenden Projekt folgen demnächst…

Aeschbach, N. & Görlinger, S. (2021): Eine neue Art von Nähe. Impulse aus der Corona-Krise: Mehr Nachhaltigkeit im Wissenschaftsbetrieb. Weiterbildung. 5, 2021: 9–13.


“Internationally successful science has so far been inextricably linked to global travel activity. The greenhouse gas emissions caused primarily by air travel are at odds with climate protection. The Corona crisis had a disruptive effect on established practices of exchange, suddenly revealing paths that were hardly conceivable before. But what happens after the pandemic? How can we succeed, building on the experience, not to fall back into the “old normal,” but to drive a sustainable further development of communication and collaboration channels?” (Aeschbach & Görlinger, 2021)

Dr. Nicole Aeschbach (TdLab Geography) and Dr. Susann Görlinger reflect in a newly published article on “A New Kind of Proximity: More Sustainability in academia.” The publication focuses on the experiences from the project “Stay grounded - keep connected” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from air travel at ETH Zurich, which Susann Görlinger led until the end of September 2021 and in which Nicole Aeschbach participated.

Nicole Aeschbach and Susann Görlinger will continue to work together on the topic of air travel reduction in the future. More information about a project starting in October 2021 will follow soon…

Aeschbach, N. & Görlinger, S. (2021): Eine neue Art von Nähe. Impulse aus der Corona-Krise: Mehr Nachhaltigkeit im Wissenschaftsbetrieb. Weiterbildung. 5, 2021: 9–13.

The “11th International Conference on GIScience” 2021 started!  Our full paper related to MeinGrün project and openrouteservice will be presented this Tuesday 13:30 CET in Session 3 “Mobility”:

13:30-13:45: Christina Ludwig, Sven Lautenbach, Eva-Marie Schömann and Alexander Zipf. Comparison of simulated fast and green routes for cyclists and pedestrians.

Routes with a high share of greenery are attractive for cyclist and pedestrians. We analyze how strongly such green routes differ from the respective fast routes using the openrouteservice. Greenness of streets was estimated based on OpenStreetMap data in combination with Sentinel-II imagery, 3d laser scan data and administrative information on trees on public ground.
We assess the effect both at the level of the individual route and at the urban level for two German cities: Dresden and Heidelberg.
For individual routes, we study how strongly green routes differ from the respective fast routes. In addition, we identify parts of the road network which represent important green corridors as well as unattractive parts which can or cannot be avoided at the cost of reasonable detours. In both cities, our results show the importance of urban green spaces for the provision of attractive green routes and provide new insights for urban planning by identifying unvegetated bottlenecks in the street network for which no green alternatives exist at this point.

Ludwig, C.; S. Lautenbach, W.-M. Schömann & A. Zipf (2021): Comparison of simulated fast and green routes for cyclists and pedestrians. 11th International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience 2021). K. Janowicz & J. Verstegen (eds.); pp. 3:1–3:15. DOI:10.4230/LIPIcs.GIScience.2021.II.3

Further related news http://giscienceblog.uni-hd.de/tag/meingrun/

The meinGrün app https://meingruen.org/
Openrouteservice serves the general public since 2008.

A new follow-up project (HEAL) deals with heat-stress avoiding shady routing.

Related work

On Monday , Sep. 27 our “Social Sensing Workshop” at the “11th International Conference on GIScience” 2021 will take place.

We are also happy to make you aware of full paper related to MeinGrün project and openrouteservice at the main conference that will be presented on Tuesday 13:30 CET in Session 3 “Mobility”C. Ludwig, S. Lautenbach, E.M. Schömann and A. Zipf.: Comparison of simulated fast and green routes for cyclists and pedestrians

See below the Agenda of the GIScience 2021 “Social Sensing Workshop“:

14.00-14.10 welcome and introduction
14.10-14.30 opening inspirational note:

“Ground Truthing Social Sensing (Renee Sieber)

14.30-15.15 paper session 1
  • Challenges in Ambulatory Assessment of Mobile Map Use Behaviour (Tumasch Reichenbacher)
  • Possibilities of Combining AI and Eye Tracking to Guide Geoexploration (Merve Keskin and Pyry Kettunen)
  • Exploring Participant Bias in OSM Activity: Understanding Temporal Biases from an Online Survey (Hyesop Shin and Ana Basiri)
15.15-15.30 coffee break (breakout rooms plus whiteboard opening)
15.30-16.15 paper session 2
  • Utilizing Social Media Data for Disaster Remote Reconnaissance: A Case Study of the 2020 Taal Volcano Eruption (Emily Jane Merin, Ariana Louise Yute, Czar Jakiri Sarmiento and Erica Erin Elazegui)
  • Comparing Connection Patterns of Innovative Companies in Hyperlink and Social Media Networks (Dorian Arifi)
  • Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Information for Analysing Urban Spaces (Peter Jeremias)
16.15-16.30 interactive whiteboard session (all participants are invited to share their thoughts)
16.30-17.00 synthesis and wrap-up

Organising Committee Social Sensing Workshop

Further Information: http://socialsensing.sbg.ac.at/

One of HeiGIT’s goals is the beneficial use of geoinformation for society. To this end we provide a range of different Web services, mostly based on OpenStreetMap (OSM), such as openrouteservice or the OSM history analytics platform ohsome.org. In particular we also offer several OSM based map services such as the topographic maps OSM-WMS.de , the global OSM climate protection map klimaschutzkarte.org , the Open healthcare access map or improved landuse maps OSMlanduse.org.

Fig. 1: DKFZ KID Mapsearch supported by HeiGIT's osm-wms.de maps

The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg is the largest biomedical research institute in Germany and a member of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers.

Besides their research activities the DKFZ offers a Cancer Information Service (KID). The KID offers information about the widespread disease of cancer for patients, their families, and the general public.
Apart from other services the KID offers an easy to use online-search-tool for patients and their families to find nearby Cancer Advice Centers and Psycho-oncological practices.

The Heidelberg Institute of Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT) supports these search-tools by providing a free topographic background map - based on HeiGIT’s osm-wms.de - to visually locate the search results. The map of osm-wms.de is based on data of the collaborative mapping project OpenStreetMap.

Other health related HeiGIT activities:

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