Software

Ruby day 9: Local power!

This. Just this: local mappers made more changes to the map of the Philippines during Typhoon Ruby than anyone else in the world (by a very very big margin). Anyone who doesn’t believe in the strength of local people to build their own resilience should look very, very hard at these numbers. Ruby’s all over now for the mappers – DHN is de-activated, everyone’s gone back to work.  There’s still a lot of work to do on the cleanup: MarkC mentioned 35000+ houses destroyed and 200000 people without shelter, and there will still be OSM mapping to do for that.  This weekend Celina’s running a “train the trainers” OSM event in Manila: if you’re one of the people who created the figures above, please please go and help spread your skills further!

Crisis Data Management

Ruby day 8: Next

Ruby has gone now – “goodbye Ruby, Tuesday” is apparently becoming a popular song here.  But the cleanup work is only just starting.  Celina spends a lot of the day trying to UAV stuff sorted out; we get word that the team is getting imagery in the worst affected areas, and she works on getting that data stored and back to the mapping groups that need it. Response teams are moving into the field – many by boat because they can’t get flights. Requests still come in – one for an assessment of damage to communications and media stations (I suggest that Internews might have a list for this, then find that Agos is tracking communications outages. I stop with the lunchtime work and get back to the day job. ACAPS puts out an overview map but still need a rainfall map for it. Maning from the Philippines observatory just…

Software

Connecting Ushahidi data to the HDX repository

I’ve been talking to the HDX team for some time now (well, since before HDX was a thing, but then so have many of us).  HDX is a data repository for humanitarian data: basically, it’s a place to put machine- and human-readable datasets so that other people can use them too. Ushahidi tools (Ushahidi platform instances, Crowdmap instances) often have datasets in them that could be useful to other people, so part of the conversation has been about how to share data from Ushahidi sites, both on the HDX site and in the HXL humanitarian standard. Ushahidi CSV to HDX CSV First let’s look at how to share the CSV file that Ushahidi creates when you click on the “download reports” button. Before you do this, please, please, please read my post about mitigating potential risks to people from sharing your Ushahidi data. Converting that CSV into HXL format is pretty…

Software

Design: Knowing what you want to build and why

Cross-posted from http://icanhazdatascience.blogspot.com/. I recently taught a coding course for international development students (yes guys, I’m still marking your assignments). But teaching coding isn’t useful in itself – it’s like teaching someone a new language without understanding what they’d want to communicate in it – so woven throughout the course was a design exercise, so students would end the course with a design for a system they wanted to build, and a tangible use for their new skills. We focussed on user experience (UX): the process of designing a system from the user’s point of view, rather than the coder’s assumptions about what the user might like. And specifically on a set of UX tools that together define a system: personas user journeys sitemaps wireframes graphic designs user stories I pointed students at two great resources on this: the beginner’s guide to UX and UX Apprentice, but here’s a quick run-down…

Crisis Data Management

Ruby Day 7: Back to Work

7am. Today is a work day, and my deal with work was that I’d be working-from-Philippines, not bunking-off-to-do-disasters, so I’ll only be popping in and out of the chats and here from now. Jean Cailton from VISOV (French VOST) has popped up overnight: many VOSTies are online working under the flags of other groups, which is kinda normal for mappers. Someone asks for rainfall data: the image a couple of days ago was based on TRMM data, so I wonder if NASA has daily updates to share (I already have scraper code for this from another project, and I remember that Lea Shanley is working on communities there now): Maning points out that the data is updated 3-hourly; is good. SBTF data is going to be posted on the Rappler map. And ACAPS puts out their first briefing note: volunteers are working with them, gathering secondary data (news, data etc) for the…

Software

Sharing community data

I’ve been thinking lately about how open data and community data fit together.  Actually, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time – since we launched OpenCrisis to try to get more data tools and ideas into the hands of crisismappers, and started the long work of trying to archive and share as much mapping data and information as we could. Here’s some first thoughts on restarting this work. Some of the big questions that came up then, and continue to come up, are about ownership, risk and responsibility.  For instance: Ownership. If a community of people add reports to a site, and that site also sucks in data from social media, who owns that data?  That question’s already been asked and answered in many open data and social media sites, often involving much work and lost data as licenses are transferred (see OpenStreetMap’s license moves, for example).  Having…

Crisis Data Management

Ruby day 6: clicking starts

7am. Wake at 6:30 am – check self for hangover, then check overnight Skype / email traffic.  Andrej from UNOCHA has posted a whole pile of links to existing UNOCHA datastores (outside HDX), and a link to 2013 population estimates (up to now, we’ve only found 2010 figures).  Realise that there isn’t a long-list of datastores for the digital humanitarians (I’ve been sending links out, but they’re behind a group’s firewall).  And the HDX team now has a Ruby page at https://data.hdx.rwlabs.org/ruby. The micromappers deployments have started (if you’re reading this and want something to do – that!).  I see a message that http://ourairports.com/countries/PH/ needs updating – Andrej has a link for that too.  Am asked to lead one of the remote mapping teams… point out that I might be a little short on internet soon.  One of the local mappers that the remote team has been worrying about has made it to…

Crisis Data Management

Ruby Day 5: data day

6am Everyone was exhausted last night – crashed out, went to bed early.  Woke at 5am today to a note about sushi and coconut juice in the fridge. Ate supperbreakfast/breakupper/supfast/whatever and checked in on the Skypechats.  Lots of messages overnight: OSM team is organised and churning through mapping tasks; DHN is oriented, the SBTF is gearing up ready, some lovely new maps on Reliefweb and a few more links to add to Joyce’s online list but they’re slowing down in frequency now. I map some residential roads and rivers on http://tasks.hotosm.org/. It’s time to start thinking about datasets. Maning is already working on shelter geolocation, someone’s repurposed the Yolanda geonode site, and I need to start checking through HDX for anything useful/ needed for Ruby. Dayjob meets weekend: am asked about the OSM humanitarian style on Ushahidi V2. Start trying to remember what the workaround for the Ebola maps was….