OSM meets Academy for Crisis Management Emergency Planning and Civil Protection

by Pascal Neis - Published: June 7th, 2011

On Saturday, May 28th members of the OpenStreetMap (OSM) community and employees of the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (in German “Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe (BBK)”) met for a workshop at Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler.

Source: Haiti Crisis Map - OpenStreetMap NL (http://haiti.openstreetmap.nl/)

The main goal of this event, taking place at the Academy for Crisis Management Emergency Planning and Civil Protection (in German “Akademie für Krisenmanagement, Notfallplanung und Zivilschutz (AKNZ)”), was to inform active contributors of the OpenStreetMap community and employees of AKNZ and BBK about OpenStreetMap and crisis mapping.

During the devastating earthquake in Haiti (2010) OSM proved to be a valuable source of up-to-date geodata and partner for international relief organizations. Crisis-Mapping includes but is not limited to e.g. the determination of infrastructure, collapsed buildings, spontaneous camps and more in crisis areas, which can be an important contribution to the orientation of rescue workers on-site. This has also been documented in specific reports by the mass media.

The workshop had 20 participants and started with a reception and short introduction about the AKNZ by Dieter Franke. Subsequently Dr. Michael Judex (BBK) explained the specific tasks of the BBK and highlighted the importance of geoinformation for the protection of citizens or during crisis management.

Stephan Bialonski started the OSM-part during this event with his presentation. Next to some basic information (Main goal of the OSM project, data model, tagging, license) he also introduced the participants to the way the OSM community thinks and works, since these factors differ highly from the working processes of regular administrative and governmental agencies. He specifically mentioned to the participants from the BBK that voluntary active contributors can be best included in their projects as long as the goal of the project is also a goal of the OSM-community.

During the following presentation Werner Kathe introduced the participants to the Humanitarian OSM Team (H.O.T.). “It is a new initiative to apply the principals and activities of Open Source and free data on humanitarian purposes and economic growth”

Special attention had been given to the presentation by Pascal Neis who explained how the operation sequence and processes during two well known OSM-relief operations (Haiti 2010 and Japan 2011) took place. Certain advantages and disadvantages considering the usage of OSM-data during these specific catastrophes were mentioned during this presentation. The participation of the OSM-community, the data collection increase in different crisis areas and several applications based on OSM-data were demonstrated. At the end Pascal showed with an example application how OSM can also be used for preventive crisis planning and organization of rescue forces.

After a lunch break including some intense conversations the employees of the BBK and AKNZ were introduced to OSM-procedures on-site. A practical workshop organized by Bernd Weigelt, Edbert van Eimeren and John Bergenholtz lead through an area of debris on the AKNZ-compound that is being used by the rescue forces for training purposes. The participants collected data about destroyed buildings and ways which shortly after have been imported to the OSM database. This way the participants were able to learn how to add GPS data, fotos taken by digital cameras and areal images to OSM using crisis-mapping specific tags in the OSM-Editors.

Trümmerstraße - Quelle: http://strdbn.posterous.com/osm-community-bonn-trifft-bbk-im-aknz-bilder

The entire event lasted for about six hours and the participants gave a very positive feedback. The open and informal atmosphere during the event allowed for several questions by the participants and showed mutual interests. We would like to thank everyone involved for the successful event.

This is a translation from the German blog post @ blog.openstreetmap.de by Stephan Bialonski & Pascal Neis. Translation provided by maɪˈæmɪ Dennis :)