An overview of OSM Kerala's inspiring journey and continued efforts to strengthen the use of OSM in Kerala for disaster response and community development.
The new start
In July, under the leadership of Jaisen Nedumpala, then-Assistant Secretary, Koorachundu Grama Panchayat initiated a mapping party to map the boundaries for the panchayat (a village council). OpenStreetMap Kerala volunteers, students, and Wikimedia volunteers were assembled for the mapping party in collaboration with the Panchayat, the local administrative body, and Swathanthra Malayalam Computing(SMC). Twenty-three volunteers received training and mapped the boundary in OSM with GPS traces taken using the android mobile phones added.
The five-day mapping party mapped the roads, ward boundaries, schools, health centers, and some other features and POIs of the remote panchayat. Following the Koorachundu model, the Unnikulam Grama Panchayat conducted a mapping party to create a ward boundary map in August of the same year.
In 2016, more people started coming forward to host mapping parties. Manoj Karingamadathil, an OSM Kerala volunteer, led two mapping parties in June and July 2016 at Vidya Acadamy of Science & Technology and Velur Panchayat. Unlike previous mapping parties, these two helped in creating a larger diversity of data uploaded to OSM. It slowly became a norm to organize a mapping party for many FOSS events like Software Freedom Day.
The Kerala Floods
(Mapathon for the Kerala Flood in 2018)
The OSM Kerala Community then swiftly started flood response mapping. While the floods still raged, developers in Kerala came together to make the datasets keralarescue.in and microid.in/keralaflood using OpenStreetMap data. (1) The keralaresuce.in portal’s map was used to collect requests for help so that agencies could reach them, while microid.in/keralaflood was used to map the flooded roads so that people could use them to plan their journey.
The Kerala community engaged HOT and created remote mapping tasks for the Thrissur, Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta, Wayanad, Alleppey, Idukki districts. The community also reached out to companies like Microsoft, Grab, Amazon Logistics, Facebook, Mapbox for support. Maxar Technologies (Digital Globe) released satellite imagery through its Open data program. A road import was done by a collaboration between Facebook and the community.
It was also during that time the community organized its first mapathon for the floods in partnership with FOSSers of Vidya Academy of Science & Technology, HOT, and various other organizations, where we completed three taluks (an administrative district comprising of a number of villages), Mukundapuram, Chalakkudy, and Thrissur. Thirty-six volunteers registered through google forms. In under 5 hours of work, we were able to map: 4,388 edits, 2,799 buildings, and 118 km of road, and map lakes, streams, and other geographic features.
The Association with the government
The online outreach programs by OSM Kerala helped popularise the concept of open maps among the student community and gain new volunteers. Our trainers, Ark Arjun, Kelvin, Vipindas, Adhil Ashraf, Jyotish, and Saritha KM, were invited by various institutions for training sessions on OSM. They held talks online for a variety of audiences to increase awareness of OSM within the region.
Currently, with continued efforts from volunteers, Kerala now has the following boundary layers available in OpenStreetMap.
Also, under Jinoy Tom Jacob and the German mappers Heinz Vieth and Marcel Ottiger, every geometry (districts, sub-districts, and the local government) is being mapped, and individual IDs are being generated in Wikidat with the corresponding Wikipedia pages in an effort to digitize the ten admin-level boundaries of Kerala. With almost half of the digitization completed, this project has taken data dissemination to the next level.
Mapping the Future
We are excited about our journey so far and are committed to improving the open data availability and usage in the state of Kerala.
(1). These datasets are no longer publicly accessible.