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Interested in how earthquake-induced damage to critical infrastructures is assessed in the research project LOKI? Then check out this teaser below!

Link to video

In the LOKI project (Luftgestützte Observation Kritischer Infrastrukturen; Airborne Assessment of Critical Infrastructures), an interdisciplinary system that enables fast and reliable airborne situation assessments following an earthquake is being developed by several project partners. The system will serve to reduce longer-term damage after an earthquake by recording information  on the current situation as efficiently as possible, thereby enabling remediation actions to be undertaken within appropriate timescales.

The teaser video introduces the component of UAV-based assessment of building-specific damage which is being developed in LOKI by 3DGeo and GIScience research groups (Heidelberg University). A combination of crowdsourcing and automated 3D methods will be used for the airborne assessment of building-specific damage following an earthquake. The assessment of different degrees of damage will be based on damage patterns detected in UAV point clouds and images. In the project we will investigate how to combine and weight the different methods in order to achieve reliable damage classification results - e.g. depending on site characteristics or the type and quality of available data.

In order to develop and test our methods, we will also use the Heidelberg LiDAR Operations Simulator (HELIOS) to create synthetic UAV point clouds of buildings with different degrees of damage.

LOKI is a joint research project where the project partners develop different components of the LOKI system and bring in their expertise in the following fields:

Stay tuned for updates on the project website, the GIScience News Blog, on Twitter or follow LOKI or ResearchGate.

LOKI is running from 2020-2022 and is funded by BMBF (funding code: 03G0890)

In recognition of the high efforts of lecturers in the past summer semester, the rectorate of Heidelberg University awarded prizes for digital teaching. Two of in total six prizes were awarded to lecturers at the Institute of Geography, which shows the positive recognition of the past semester’s endeavors both from the side of students and the rectorate.

Dr. Nicole Aeschbach was awarded for her seminar “KlimaWandelWissen” (translated: ClimateChangeKnowledge), in particular for the diversified design of the course regarding contents and methods. Katharina Anders of the 3DGeo group was awarded for her seminar “Geoscripting with Python – Automation of Geographic Analyses”, in particular for the successful blend of theoretical and practical contents and providing prompt and individual feedback on practical exercises.

Big congratulations to the awardees!

The prize money is intended to be spent for the enhancement of future teaching.

New paper published on healthcare access in Sub-Saharan Africa

It is almost a year since SARS-CoV-2 first emerged in China. The virus spread all over the world. Countries south of the Sahara did not receive much attention. Although outbreaks here have a strong risk potential due to existing crises. In our new published paper we modeled travel-time towards hospitals for adults aged 60 and older. Check it out in The Lancet Healthy Longevity’s first issue:

Geldsetzer, P.; Reinmuth, M.; Ouma, P. O., Lautenbach, S.; Okiro E. A.; Bärnighausen, T.; Zipf, A. Mapping physical access to health care for older adults in sub-Saharan Africa and implications for the COVID-19 response: a cross-sectional analysis. The Lancet Healthy Longevity. 2020;1(1):e32-e42.

What is the study about?

Travel-time based catchment area estimation is a method public health officials and policy makers can base their decisions on in planning permanent as well as makeshift health care service locations. Areas with short distances to healthcare services are considered to be well supplied with healthcare. In contrast, areas with longer distances to health services are considered poorly supplied. Low physical access to health care in Sub-Saharan Africa will probably be a major barrier to receiving care for adults aged 60 years and older with COVID-19.

For an analysis like this three major datasets are needed:

  • Healthcare service provision locations like hospitals, clinics and health centers
  • Distribution of Population
  • A travel model to provide information on the mobility of populations

By combining data from OpenStreetMap and published Master facility list we created a new dataset on healthcare facilities in Sub-Sahara Africa. For population distribution we relied on WorldPop products. The travel model used to estimate the travel times is part of AccessMod.

Maps showing population density and travel time to the nearest hospital for adults aged 60 years or  older, by sub-Saharan African region

Figure 3: Maps showing population density and travel time to the nearest hospital for adults aged 60 years or older, by sub-Saharan African region

Our results show that almost 10% of adults aged 60 years or older have an estimated travel time to the nearest hospital of 6 hours or longer. Most countries in Sub-Sahara Africa contained populated areas in which adults aged 60 years and older had a travel time to the nearest hospital of 12 h or longer and to the nearest healthcare facility of any type of 6 h or longer.

Future work

We are currently working on improvements on the healthcare provision locations layer and the travel model. This includes an accurate assessment of the quality of healthcare facilities, as well as the travel model underlying data such as the road network. It is important to determine which areas may be over- or underestimated in their healthcare capacity and account for specific needs of care. Our travel model depicts a best case scenario of mobility at a resolution of 1km x 1km. We are working on improvements and adding other approaches on travel time estimations like the openrouteservice ORS isochrone service.

Related work

This week 19.-23.10. the autumn school Urban Data Science takes place as a online course set up together by GIScience Heidelberg and the Institute for Transport Studies (IfV), KIT. It is part of an ongoing application for a HeiKA (Heidelberg Karlsruhe Strategic Partnership) project that would foster joint teaching modules between GIScience HD and IfV KIT.
The autumn school is lead by Tamer Soylu (KIT), Tessio Novack (GIScience) and Sven Lautenbach (HeiGIT). In addition to talks by experts from business and research the autumn school consists of practical labs on data science in the domain of urban transportation. Prof. Vortisch (KIT) and Prof. Zipf (HD) introduce their respective research fields.
Participants consist of Master students of Geography and Mobility and Infrastructure from Heidelberg and KIT.

The new openrouteservice map client development is in the final phase and has now a new feature that allows to show routes, isochrones and other features from openrouteservice (ORS) integrated on other websites. This allows webmasters and editors to embed those geographic features into their website using the new client.

How to embed the maps

Any feature visualized on the new map client, like a route, isochrones or a place can be used as an embedded content.
The code to be used to embed it is automatically generated on the map client itself. To have access to the code on the sidebar just click on the share option and the iframe code will be available. You just need to click on the code and it will be copied to your clipboard.

Fig. 1: Access to the embedding code via share

You can find some examples of embedded map views online at:

(navigate to openrouteservice.org -> Jupyter Examples -> Embedded Mode for openrouteservice VueJS client )

Some features of the embedding mode

– Place information: when clicking on the map, the user can investigate the underlying location. The place information is shown in a popup on the bottom right.

– Measuring distances: by using the measuring control on the left side of the view, the user is able to measure distances on the map in different units. The distances can be discarded by clicking on the control a second time.

– Switching basemap: to view a different map in the background, the user can choose from six different basemaps by hovering over the layer switcher in the top right of the map view.

– Accessibility mode: just like the new VueJs client, the iframe comes with an accessibility mode to navigate the view with the keyboard (arrow keys, tab …) instead of the mouse.

– Zoom to all features: last but not least, there is a button to easily zoom to the full extent of all features (after zooming in/out) on the right hand side of the map view.

- Mobile friendly: like the new map client itself, the embedded map view is also mobile friendly. By default, the iframe code generated used 100% for width and height, so that it can adapt itself to the available dimension.

- User gestures handling: to avoid the map view to be scrolled when the user has the intention to scroll the entire page we added a gesture handling in the embedded mode in order to keep the user in control of it. If the user wants to scroll the map he has to user CTRL + scroll (desktops) or two fingers (mobile) to scroll the map view content.  When the user scrolls the page a message with instructions to scroll the map is displayed over the map view.

Focused on visualization: most of the interactivity does not work, but the user can click on the  view on ORS button to go to the full version of the client and interact with it.

Language selection: although only English is supported now on the map client application, soon more languages will be available. When the iframe code is generated, the current defined language is also part of the code, so that when new languages are available the displaying language of the embedded map view will be manageable.


  • ORS Ref:
    Neis, P. & Zipf, A (2008): OpenRouteService.org is three times “Open”: Combining OpenSource, OpenLS and OpenStreetMaps. GIS Research UK (GISRUK 08). Manchester.
On October 16-18 there is the Copernicus Hackathon “Barcelona” -
Integrating Copernicus services and state-of-the-art tools within Weather-induced emergency management
HeiGIT is involved in the Copernicus Hackathon by providing free and open web-based services and APIs which leverage OpenStreetMap data as valuable tools for disaster management.
The HeiGIT services include: OpenRouteService API, sources, and clients, and the ohsome OpenStreetMap History Analytics framework (ohsome API, ohsomeHex, ohsome2X and the OSHDB).
The event has moved online due to Corona. You can participate by registering here!

About this Event

Copernicus Hackathon Barcelona is open for developers, designers, data wranglers, data journalists, data enthusiasts and everyone interested in exploiting potential of cutting edge developments in weather forecasting, risk modelling and earth observation in improved information and services for emergency management and population to protect their lives.

Participants are requested to use the provided tools and datasets in order deliver software developments supposing added value downstream services, such as:

  • Develop web applications for policy- and decision-makers.
  • Apps & services for specific public and commercial needs (e.g. tourism, energy, transport).
  • Effective communication of risks (environmental or societal challenges) to the public (participatory approach, crowdsourcing and social media data).

Copernicus services provided:

  • Emergency Management,
  • Climate Change,
  • Atmosphere


The best teams will be awarded the following prices at the end of the Hackathon:

  • Cash prize (2000 euro) for the winning team.
  • Cash prize (1250 euro) for the 2nd best qualified team.
  • Cash prize (750 euro) for the 3rd best qualified team.
Further Information: https://barcelonahack.com/

The E-TRAINEE project is a new collaboration project for developing an “E-learning course on Time Series Analysis in Remote Sensing for Understanding Human-Environment Interactions” with Markéta Potůčková (Department of Applied Geoinformatics and Cartography, Charles University Prague) as PI of the project and Heidelberg University, University of Innsbruck and University of Warsaw as project partners. The E-TRAINEE project is funded in the framework of the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

The project’s objective is to develop a comprehensive research-oriented open e-learning course on time series analysis in remote sensing for environmental monitoring. The course offers a multidisciplinary approach connecting themes from computer science, geography, and environmental studies.

It combines well-established and latest technologies of remote sensing (satellite and UAV sensing, multispectral and hyperspectral sensing, 3D point clouds) and methods of artificial intelligence (machine and deep learning) in order to use these technological developments to understand environmental changes and interaction of human activities and environment. It shows how the same environmental phenomenon can be analysed from the perspective of different data sources, scales and time frequencies.

The 3DGeo research group supports this project with contents on 3D/4D geospatial point clouds and methods for their analysis, including machine learning, time series analysis, and laser scanning simulation. Contents will further comprise programming for point cloud analysis in Python and research-oriented case studies.

We are looking forward to bring our 4D research into international education!

The collaboration project follows the alliance built up through the 4EU+ collaboration project “3D Landcover Monitoring”.

CALL FOR PAPERS –  18th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2021)

May 23-26, 2021, Virginia, USA – https://www.drrm.fralinlifesci.vt.edu/iscram2021/ Virginia Tech

Track: Geospatial Technologies and Geographic Information Science for Crisis Management (GIS)

Deadline for paper submissions: December 6, 2020

* Track Description

With crisis and hazardous events being an “inherently spatial” problem, geospatial information and technologies have been widely employed for supporting disaster and crisis management. This was further highlighted during the response to the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, which is relying extensively on spatial analysis for managing  the virus dissemination pathways and fighting against the virus propagation. Therefore, geospatial methods and tools – such as Spatial Decision Support Systems (SDSS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) architectures, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), spatial databases, spatial-temporal methods, as well as geovisual analytics technologies –  have a great potential to contribute to, understand the geospatial characteristics of a crisis, estimate damaged areas, define evacuation routes, and plan resource distribution. Collaborative platforms like OpenStreetMap (OSM) have also been employed to support disaster management (e.g., in near real-time mapping). Nevertheless, all these geospatial big data pose new challenges for not only geospatial data visualization, but also data modeling and analysis; existing technologies, methodologies, and approaches now have to deal with data shared in various formats, different velocities, and uncertainties. Furthermore, new issues have been also emerging in urban computing and smart cities for making communities more resilient against disasters. In line with this year’s conference theme, the GIS Track particularly welcomes submissions addressing aspects of geospatial information in disaster risk and crisis research, and how this geospatial information should embrace the interdisciplinary nature of crisis situations. This includes exploring bridges between geospatial data science methods and tools and other related fields, including (but not limited to): computing disciplines (e.g. AI and machine learning), social sciences (e.g.  socio-spatial aspects of risk and resilience, community resilience, participation and governance) and humanities (e.g. spatial humanities and spatial digital arts). We seek conceptual, theoretical, technological, methodological, empirical contributions, as well as research papers employing different methodologies, e.g., design-oriented research, case studies, and action research. Solid student contributions are welcome.

Track topics are therefore focused on, but not limited to the following list:

– Geospatial data analytics for crisis management
– Location-based services and technologies  for crisis management
– Geospatial ontology for crisis management
– Geospatial big data in the context of disaster and crisis management
– Geospatial linked data for crisis management
– Spatially explicit machine learning and Artificial Intelligence for crisis management
– Urban computing and geospatial aspects of smart cities for crisis management
– Spatial Decision Support Systems for crisis management
– Individual-centric geospatial information
– Remote sensing for crisis management
– Geospatial intelligence for crisis management
– Spatial data management for crisis management
– Spatial data infrastructure for crisis management
– Geovisual analytics for crisis management
– Spatial-temporal modeling in disaster and crisis context
– Crisis mapping and geovisualization
– Collaborative disaster mapping, citizen participation
– Public policies and governance for geospatial information
– Case studies of geospatial analysis/tools during a pandemic situation
– Empirical case studies

* Important Dates

Full research and insight papers:
– Submission deadline: December 6, 2020
– Decision notification: January 17, 2021

Short (WiPe) papers and Practitioner papers:
– Submission deadline: January 31, 2021
– Decision notification: February 28, 2021

* Paper submission guidelines



- Submission deadline for CoRe papers: December 6, 2020

- Notification of decision for CoRe papers: January 17, 2021

- Submission deadline for WiP and Practitioner papers: January 31, 2021

- Notification of decision for WiP and Practitioner papers: February 28, 2021


- Professor João Porto de Albuquerque*, j.porto@warwick.ac.uk University of Warwick
- Alexander Zipf zipf@uni-heidelberg.de University of Heidelberg
- Flávio Horita flavio.horita@ufabc.edu.br Federal University of ABC
- Michael A. Erskine michael.erskine@mtsu.edu Middle Tennessee State University

This Thursday, team members from HeiGIT will give a presentation at MSF’s Annual GIS Week. This is an internal event at MSF ( Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International, Doctors without Borders), which brings together all employees working on GIS and geographic information management related topics.

Our “OSM Data Dive” session will provide an introduction to OpenStreetMap based analysis to improve MSF’s field missions and better preparatory planning. Central to these analysis will be the tools developed at HeiGIT, e.g. openrouteservice, ohsomeApi, ohsomeHex or the OSHDB.

Find our more about our work related to Humanitarian Aid and Sustainable Development at our website.

We launched a validation campaign of our new 10meter resolution OSMlanduse product for the member states of the European Union. Please contribute to the validation here. A technique where contributions are checked against each other is implemented to promote quality of information. The mapathon comes in four themes: nature, urban, agriculture or expert.
While the expert campaign may be addressed exclusively by application professionals the themes nature, urban, agriculture can be done by anyone that is enthusiastic about geography. Contribute here and choose your flavor.

We described our new landuse map based on the combination of OpenStreetMap and Sentinel satellite data through machine learning in an earlier post. The validation effort is also featured during the EU regions week where a web presentation and an interactive workshop is conducted by Michael Schultz and Ana-Maria Raimond Tue 14, October 2020, 9:30 Click here to join the validation. The EU regions event is upon registration only and participation of the validation is open for everyone.

Urban campaign land use classes for validation

Urban campaign land use classes for validation

Agriculture campaign land use classes for validation

Agriculture campaign land use classes for validation

Nature campaign land use classes for validation

Nature campaign land use classes for validation

Interface of validation

Interface of validation

The new OSMlanduse map is developed, deployed and hosted also with support from HeiGIT (Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology).

Related Work:

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