February 21 was International Open Data Day; a day when open data enthusiasts around the world gather to write applications using open public data, thereby showing support for and encouraging the adoption of open data policies. Open data is data that is freely available for everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyrights or patents. In Mannheim, the GIScience group of the University of Heidelberg took part in the local Open Data Day.
On the day before the event, interested persons met for talks regarding the application of open data in different domains, including mobility, internet of things, linked open data, disaster mapping and accessible routing using OpenStreetMap and Wheelmap. On the day itself, the participants were able to finish seven projects in areas concerning the analysis of Wikipedia edit wars, public transportion visualisations, crowdsourcing, disaster speed mapping and OpenStreetMap data collection.
Thirty-five developers formed various teams for the so-called “Hacktogether” on Mannheim’s Open Data Day. One team developed an extension for an OpenStreetMap analysis tool that shows which streets do not yet have a sidewalk tag on the map. Sidewalk information on the OpenStreetMap (OSM) is still very sparse, but knowing whether or not a street has a sidewalk can be very important for getting around when you are not using a car, especially if you use a wheelchair or a wheeled walker.
Another team of developers designed tasks for the citizen science platform crowdcrafting.org. This platform engages crowdworkers who contribute information to scientific projects; information which can best be supplied by large numbers of online volunteers. In keeping with the sidewalk theme, the task which the developers designed involves detecting the presence (or absence) of sidewalks along streets on the OSM using photographs. The photos being used have been taken by online volunteers for Mapillary, another crowdsourcing platform, which is seeking to represent the whole world (not only streets) with photos.
Volunteers are cordially invited to contribute to this crowdcrafting.org task! Anybody with some time and a computer can help out. The task is very straightforward and involves looking at a photo and answering yes or no as to whether or not a sidewalk can be detected on the photo.
Both of these “sidewalk tools” that were developed during the Open Data Day in Mannheim can help to improve OpenStreetMap’s sidewalk data. This in turn is very important for planning wheelchair accessible routes, an area upon which the MyAccessible.EU project is concentrating.