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On October 17/18th the Humanitarian Congress is organized in Berlin by Médecins Sans Frontières/Ärzte ohne Grenzen (MSF), Médecins du Monde/Doctors of the World (MdM), German Red Cross (GRC) and Berlin Chamber of Physicians.

For more than 20 years, this congress brings together actors from the medical and humanitarian, governmental, media, and research world. These come together to share and discuss ideas all around theory and practice of humanitarian action.

HeiGIT`s objective is to improve knowledge and technology transfer from fundamental research in geoinformatics to practical applications, with a focus on humanitarian contexts. Therefore, we were also happy to join the event and present Missing Maps and our work in scope of the humanitarian village in a joint booth with our partners of GRC.

Attendees furthermore have the chance to actively support a Missing Maps project. We will host a mapathon in the scope of the congress, together with MSF Berlin and GRC, Thursday after the first congress day, at the Village Berlin Workshop space. Congress attendees are welcome to register and join, no previous knowledge necessary. Please find the registration link and further information here.

We will give a short introduction and will provide insights into Missing Maps and a GRC project to support “Forecast-based Action in Central Asiawhich will be collaboratively mapping for.

We are very looking forward to seeing you in Berlin!

We cordially invite you to a Brownbag presentation by our Guest Researcher Dr. Jennings Anderson!

When? Tuesday, 8/10/2019, 1-2.30 pm

Where? Seminar room 15, INF 348

Jennings is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder exploring new approaches to analytical infrastructures for big, peer-produced geospatial datasets, specifically OpenStreetMap. His dissertation work involved designing contributor-centric research methods that can tell the complete story of not only how the map evolved, but who is involved, and how these contributors interact with both the map and each other. These mapping behaviors are especially important to understand the creation and maintenance of the map in areas with high concentrations of contributors and editing activity, such as areas impacted by disasters.

Most recently, his work identified and quantified the impact that paid editing teams are having on the map. Since 2014, the map has seen over 20M edits from corporate data teams, primarily to the road network. Today, over 12% of the global road network by length was most recently edited by a corporate data team. Find further information about Jennings here.

In this talk, Jennings will discuss his approaches to OpenStreetMap data analysis, his recent investigations into corporate editing, and his current work in which he hopes to implement the OSHDB http://ohsome.org to dive deeper into the evolution of both the map and the community that maintains it. After the talk, there is time for Q&A and further discussion for sure.

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

In 2015, MapSwipe began as a solution to a complex question: how do we better identify where communities and populations are, allowing mapping to be more efficient and effective?

Using a simple mobile app, volunteers are able to swipe through a series of satellite images, tapping in areas where they find features. MapSwipe can be used anywhere, at any time, which provides an easy access point for individuals to contribute to the Missing Maps project without being restricted to their laptop.

Follow up developments included the MapSwipe2HOT Tasking Manager workflow as well as MapSwipe Analytics.

That was MapSwipe then – this is MapSwipe now.

Two new project types have been introduced on MapSwipe, transforming the way that volunteers can contribute to humanitarian response globally with just a few simple taps on their phone.

  • Building Footprint project: As machine-learning and AI continue to forge a new path for mapping, this project allows volunteers to indicate where building traces are inaccurate or of low-quality, signaling where improvements need to be made
  • Change Detection project: Map data should constantly evolve to reflect the changes happening within a community. Volunteers use satellite imagery to indicate when change is detected in an image, signaling the need to revisit mapped areas and update data where needed

Our team of volunteers contributing to MapSwipe have been working to redesign the user experience, ensuring that the mobile app functions on any mobile device in any geography. The new in-app tutorials coach MapSwipe volunteers on how to successfully and accurately contribute to projects.

To date, over 29,000 volunteers have covered an area totaling more than 600,000 sq. km. (that’s larger than the entire country of France!) using MapSwipe.

And we are just getting started.

If you want to learn more about MapSwipe, are interested in submitting a project, or want to get involved on the team that develops and maintains the app, visit www.mapswipe.org for more information and to download the app.

Thank you to the following individuals and organizations who have dedicated a number of hours and resources to make MapSwipe possible: Laurent Savaete, Benni Herfort (Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology), Johnny Henshall (British Red Cross), Andrew Braye (British Red Cross), Eric Boucher (Ovio), and Jorieke Vyncke (Médecins Sans Frontières). A special thanks to the British Red Cross for hosting the application.

Check also http://mapswipe.heigit.org/ for MapSwipe Analytics tools developed by HeiGIT. Future versions of MapSwipe shall combine further methods from machine learning based on our research.

Related literature:

Herfort, B.; Li, H.; Fendrich, S.; Lautenbach, S.; Zipf, A. Mapping Human Settlements with Higher Accuracy and Less Volunteer Efforts by Combining Crowdsourcing and Deep Learning. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 1799.

Herfort, B., Eckle, M., de Albuquerque, J. P., (2016): Being specific about geographic information crowdsourcing: a typology and analysis of the Missing Maps project in South Kivu. 13th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management. ISCRAM 2016. Rio de Janeiro, Brazi

Herfort, B., Zipf, A. (2018): Enhancing Crowdsourced Classification on Human Settlements Utilizing Logistic Regression Aggregation and Intrinsic Context Factors. VGI-ALIVE Workshop. at AGILE 2018. Lund, Sweden.

Herfort, B., Reinmuth, M., Porto de Albuquerque, J., Zipf, A. (2017): Towards evaluating the mobile crowdsourcing of geographic information about human settlements. 20th AGILE conference 2017, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Scholz, S., Knight, P., Eckle, M., Marx, S., Zipf, A. (2018): Volunteered Geographic Information for Disaster Risk Reduction: The Missing Maps Approach and Its Potential within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Remote Sens., 10(8), 1239, doi: 10.3390/rs10081239.

Nicole Aeschbach (Head of TdLab Geography) and Werner Aeschbach (Professor at the Institute of Environmental Physics, Heidelberg University) contributed to the Local Conference of Youth (LCOY) which took place from 4 to 6 October 2019 in Heidelberg.

In their talk, Nicole and Werner presented the basic science of climate change, covering observations and impacts of current climate change, inferences from paleoclimate knowledge, the physics of the greenhouse effect and climate projections based on emission scenarios. The presentation also included the basic facts on global climate politics such as the Paris agreement and corresponding implications for future emission pathways. The aim of the contribution was to inform the participants of the LCOY about the scientific basis of climate change and mitigation options. Some typical contrarian arguments were also discussed, to enable the young people to counter the widespread misinformation about climate change.

A Local Conference of Youth (LCOY) is an event of YOUNGO, the official youth-constituency to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is a national version of the global COY, which takes place right before the Conference of Parties (COP), the annual UN Conference on Climate Change.

#lcoygermany #zeitfürveränderung

Nicole Aeschbach at LCOY Heidelberg 2019

Nicole Aeschbach at LCOY Heidelberg 2019

A new tutorial for the 3DGeo’s LiDAR simulation software HELIOS has been posted to the repository’s wiki page. It shows a simple way to generate scenes of real landscapes including building and vegetation models as well as terrain from NASA JPL’s SRTM data.

When applied to OSM data in the city of Vienna, the obtained 3D model that can be loaded into HELIOS may look like this:

Sample OSM2World model

Sample OSM2World model

The workflow was already successfully applied in a recent publication:

Martínez Sánchez, J.; Váquez Álvarez, Á.; López Vilariño, D.; Fernández Rivera, F.; Cabaleiro Domínguez, J.C.; Fernández Pena, T. Fast Ground Filtering of Airborne LiDAR Data Based on Iterative Scan-Line Spline Interpolation. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 2256. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11192256

Additional information on the conversion software (OSM2World) that is being used can also be found in this State of the Map talk by Tobias Knerr.

In a new publication, we show how deep neural networks can be used in an end-to-end manner for the classification of 3D point clouds from airborne laser scan data. The research, based on the award-winning diploma thesis of Lukas Winiwarter at TU Wien, has now been published in “PFG - Photogrammetrie, Fernerkundung, Geoinformation“, the Journal of the German Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (DGPF).

Additionally, we were invited to provide a cover image for this issue, which you can see below:

alsNet workflow

alsNet workflow as PFG 2019/03 cover image.

The method, titled ‘alsNet’, makes use of properties inherent to airborne laser scanning data, such as the spatial data distribution and per-point attributes stemming from the sensor. Incorporating this into a neural network for set abstraction, PointNet++ (Qi et al., 2017), allows the derivation of neighbourhood features (shown in the Figure) that are learned in the training process. This eliminates the need for expert feature crafting.

The code used in this research has been made available at GitHub: https://github.com/lwiniwar/alsnet

More details can be found in the Paper:

Winiwarter, L., Mandlburger, G., Schmohl, S., Pfeifer N. (2019): Classification of ALS Point Clouds Using End-to-End Deep Learning. PFG, 87: 75-90, DOI: 10.1007/s41064-019-00073-0.

This year the bi-annual German Congress for Geography was held in Kiel in northern Germany. The conference is the main platform for German speaking researchers to exchange recent research results in the field of geography. Besides this, a growing number of events are being organized by students and “young” geographers as part of the “Youth Congress for Geography” (JKG). HeiGIT and the disastermappers Heidelberg contributed to JKG by organizing a mapathon on friday.

The mapathon was supported by the student associations from Heidelberg, Hannover and Göttingen and was attended by around 40 students. We introduced them into OpenStreetMap mapping, the use of HOT’s Tasking Manager and MapSwipe. Besides this, the event was a good occasion to build connections between students from all over Germany. We envision to grow the mapping community by having more regular events. Geography awareness week will be held in November. So stay tuned for updates and events coming soon.

We cordially invite everybody interested to our next open GIScience colloquium talk!

The speaker is Prof. Dr. Stephan Winter from Melbourne University, Australia.

When: Monday 30.09.2019, 2:00 pm
Where: INF 348, room 015 (Institute of Geography, Heidelberg University)

Title: Conversing about place

‘Place’ is used here as antithesis to traditional, geometry-based geographic information systems’ capture, modelling, analysis and communication. It is used for the references people make in their verbal or written communication. The talk looks at the challenges and approaches helping any conversational assistant to understand these human expressions, and to respond in a similar way.


Stephan Winter is Professor in Spatial Information Science at the University of Melbourne, Australia, specializing in human spatial cognition, navigation, and intelligent transportation. He is pioneering formal and stochastic models of urban environments, and leads research in intelligent spatial systems and computational transportation science. He holds a PhD from the University of Bonn, and a habilitation from the Technical University Vienna.


From 23 to 25 September 2019, the 2nd International Conference “Our Climate - Our Future: Regional Perspectives on a Global Challenge” of the Helmholtz Climate Initiative “Regional Climate Change” (REKLIM) took place in Berlin, Germany. The conference programme included keynote speeches, oral presentations, poster presentations, networking opportunities and a number of additional discussion platforms.

Six different topics dealt with questions on rising sea levels in a warming climate, on atmospheric interactions between global and regional scales or on extreme events. Topic 6 dealt with “Adaptation to climate change as a societal challenge”. Under the key questions “What social risks does climate change entail”, “What socio-cultural adaptation barriers must be overcome” and “How can scientific findings be translated into social action”, general concepts of adaptation and selected case studies on adaptation were presented in several sessions.

Dr. Kathrin Foshag (Institute of Environmental Physics, Heidelberg University) represented the TdLab Geography in Panel 6 with a talk on “Viability of Public Spaces in Cities with Increasing Heat Stress in a Warming Climate”. On the basis of a pilot study in Heidelberg, the transdisciplinary study shows how major societal challenges such as adaptation to climate change in cities can be solved through exchange and cooperation with local actors.

The conference ended on Thursday 26 September with a public day to discuss the local impacts of climate change in Berlin and Brandenburg. In addition, ideas were developed on how to meet the societal challenge of climate change and shape a sustainable future.

(Blog-Post by Kathrin Foshag)

Dr. Kathrin Foshag at the REKLIM conference 2019

Dr. Kathrin Foshag at the REKLIM conference 2019

SotM Image by Thomas Skowron, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Over the last few days, Heidelberg has been host to the annual HOT Summit and State of the Map conference with a combined attendance of over 800 people.

The HOT summit ran from the 19th-20th September and had over 200 attendees from more than 40 different countries. The SotM conference, running from the 21st to the 23rd September, had almost 600 attendees from over 60 different countries, making it the biggest SotM to date. Both events saw a great selection of high quality workshops and talks, ranging from routing & navigation and AI, to mapping for energy conservation and disease outbreak preparedness. Also, in the SotM conference there was a dedicated academic track running the whole of Sunday. For all those people who were unable to attend the conferences, or just want to see the talks they missed or want to see again, a number of them were recorded and are available for both HOT Summit and SotM.

So a big thankyou to all of the local team, the organising committees, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, the OSMF, our volunteers, the sponsors of both conferences, and most of all, to all the attendees who made this a truly memorable SotM and HOT summit.

Now let’s keep Bridging the Map so that next years State of the Map in Cape Town and the HOT Summit (location yet to be decided) are even better than this years!

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