Tooling up the next wave of #MapLesotho mappers

14 March 2016 | debigc

I was in Portmarnock Community School on Thursday the 10th March. I was invited by the Religion and Maths teachers Niall FitzGerald and Colette Cronin to meet 22 of the present transition years, who were in Lesotho recently. Similarly, all of this class are experienced openstreetmap users. The purpose of the visit was to show them how to use mobile phone applications to assist with mapping. In the classroom and we had a conversation about these apps, and plugged into the school wifi to download them. These are:

  • Mapillary

  • Pushpin OSM (for the iPhone)

  • OSM tracker (for android OS)

[caption id=”attachment_443” align=”alignleft” width=”160”]download Mapillary[/caption]

There’s always learning in these things. Two of the phones could neither take Mapillary, nor OSM Tracker. However, in both cases this was due to the lack of free space that the owner had left! Then the class decided to divide up into three groups. Having discussed functionality Mapillary was by far the most popular, with nine takers. The Mapillary demo went through the usual intuitive set of tips. It didn’t take long before that group arranged themselves like a Phalanx, with cameras pointing in all directions.

[caption id=”attachment_1906” align=”alignright” width=”440”]PCS ID Editor View of OSM, showing the uploaded light points[/caption]

Pushpin OSM nevertheless has its uses, and the second biggest group with seven iPhones used it to capture the locations of the lamp-posts within the school grounds. This is a good test of whether the points are captured. The screenshot from OSM shows bubbles where the students found lights.

OSM tracker was used to walk around the perimeter of a pitch. It is often difficult to map pitches in OSM as they tend to be marked out in a bigger “ground” or “meadow”. The “track” which walked along the pitch marking with 6 other phones gave us a huge clue as to how to mark the AREA=PITCH in OSM. Not all of the pitch walkers had good GPS signals, which would need to be examined in detail.

[caption id=”attachment_1907” align=”alignleft” width=”399”]PCS2 Mapbox rendering of Portmarnock School and the black icon shows the first Mapillary “Phalanx” location[/caption]

On returning to the classroom we had a quick review. Mapillary users were already uplading their data. OSM tracker users were discussing making the track “public”, and Pushpin OSM users were thinking about other points of interest they could map.

A return visit is needed. This visit will need to break the users into smaller groups and let them go further afield and Map Portmarnock.This will require them to first agree how to tag the features they are going to map in Pushpin OSM and OSM tracker. With Mapillary all users would need to understand what are useful and less useful images and learn how to remove ones that are obscured, blurred or not photographing anything in particular.

[caption id=”attachment_2005” align=”alignright” width=”308”]PCSMAPILLARY The Mapillary Tracks captured[/caption]

This was a very interesting way to spend lunch. Niall FitzGerald spoke about the obligation for those using these applications to show others who will travel to Lesotho next year how to turn their travels into map surveying.

The follow up visit should be boosted by the fact that the students undertook to do a little bit of Mapillary themselves in their spare time. I will watch the Portmarnock, Malahide and Swords areas closely now to see if this is happening.

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