CartONG, in partnership with OSM-Fr, was able to send a volunteer in Haiti in June to support the haitian OpenStreetMap community, in particular through the deployment of an UAV, which imagery proved very useful for participatory mapping.
Civilian Unmanned Aerial Vehicules (UAVs or drones) have been used for participatory mapping project in Haiti since 2012. In this country, struck by natural disasters in 2010 and 2012, the use of drones is a way to tackle the issue of mapping differently. In association with the OSM communities in Haiti the collected data is later used during mapping parties.
Given the role played by cartography in communities resilience the project includes a community-building side. UAV data collection and use training are also a way to strengthen Haitian OSM communities, so that they can fully take part in local development.
Supported by the Fondation de France, CartONG uses UAV for a multidimensional project: data collection, participatory mapping, community-building, all these elements gather to the benefit of risk prevention, disaster response and development in Haiti.
The first phase of the project aimed at strengthening the abilities of OSM communities in Haiti, via collection and use of UAV imagery for carto-parties. The second phase is designed to re-use the data collected for development and risk prevention within the frame of partnerships. The first two phases are therefore complementary: one is about training to data collection while the other focuses on the use of such data. Finally, the last phase is dedicated to the empowerment of OSM communities, so that they can lead projects of their own, with partners they found.
The phase 1 of CartONG’s project in Haiti aimed at collecting and processing data gathered thanks to the use of an UAV. 42 flights have been completed, within Port-au-Prince area, at the North-East and West of the country, including over Rivière Grise, the urbanized part of Saint-Marc, Sans-Souci Palace (Unesco World Heritage Site), Dominican Republic border areas (Ouanaminthe and Dajabon), the EKAM, Caracol and Bord de Mer. Communities could this way test the UAV in various situations and fields.
Developing and testing a mini-server was expected to facilitate the processing of UAV images in Haiti despite the difficult access to electricity and internet. The mini-server has been constructed and software used to process aerial image have been installed. Up to now, it is operational despite some bugs. However, the mini-server hasn’t been tested in real conditions. Considering the difficulties faced regarding aerial image processing the need for such a tool has been confirmed for all situations where accessing internet and electricity is a challenge. As it is operational, its use in different contexts and missions can be considered.
Taking into considering the mission’s aims in terms of empowerment and future of OSM communities in Haiti training issues shall not be underestimated. The project general frame included training to the use of UAV (in terms of aerial security and taking into consideration the UAV’s weaknesses). For all communities, UAV referents have been trained to UAV flight planning. It appeared that the communities wish to be trained to be able to fully master the process of collection and processing of aerial image, including on software such as ArcGIS and QGIS.
The mission has been an opportunity to meet three OSM communities in Haiti, and to have them gather in Port-au-Prince, overcoming material difficulties which have prevented any gathering to happen before. The meeting triggered a process of reflection and discussions over the future of participatory mapping in Haiti. This process keeps going with a common participation of the three OSM communities to the “Understand the Risk” conference organized by the World Bank in July and several follow-up meetings organized.
Please check OpenStreetMap's wiki for the details of imagery produced, and the procedure to use it: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/UAV-HAITI