Putting Elche on the (OpenStreet)Map

IMG_20141028_174517Elche, a beautiful, palm-covered city in Spain’s Valencian community, is already one of Europe’s most accessible cities. However, its shops, restaurants, tapas bars and cafés are not yet well represented on OpenStreetMap (OSM), the crowd-sourced mapping platform which forms the basis for the activities of MyAccessible.EU.

In order to prepare for a public “mapping party” on March 14, 2015 in Elche, some members of the MyAccessible.EU team carried out extensive fieldwork on site. On the first days of February we mapped more than 800 so-called points of interest (PoI’s) – shops and service outlets including doctor’s offices, restaurants, bars, clubs and cafés, cinemas and so forth – onto OpenStreetMap. We included data on the type of businesses as well as their addresses, street numbers and exact locations. As a result, the shops and stores in the historic centre of Elche are now fully covered on OSM.

UntitledWe went about collecting data in Elche in two different ways. Some of us used pens and OSM print-outs on which we mapped PoI’s street-by-street (see scan at left), and then entered the data using Potlatch 2, an OSM editor software. Others used their IOS smartphones and entered data with a mobile app called Go Map!! Both methods worked well, but each has certain advantages and disadvantages; mobile data entry leads to faster online results but can be hampered by poor cell phone connections; pen-based mapping means one spends less time on the streets, which can be of advantage when weather conditions are unfavourable.

You can get an idea of the results of our work from these before and after screenshots of part of Elche’s OpenStreetMap – 800 new points of interest make quite a difference!

OSM_Elche_beforeOSM_Elche_after

In addition, our team took hundreds of geotagged photographs for uploading onto Wheelmap, Mapillary and other platforms that are being considered as sources of data input for MyAccessible.EU tool development.

The stage is now prepared and the citizens of Elche will be invited to tag the city’s shops, restaurants, cafés etc. according to their accessibility for people who use wheelchairs or who are otherwise restricted in their mobility. This will take place in the form of a mapping party, an awareness raising event that has proven to be a highly effective – and very fun – eye-opener. Mapping parties using the Wheelmap have taken place in many places around the world and are used by MyAccessible.EU for piloting new Wheelmap features and other tools that are being developed by the project.

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