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Supplying medicine and food is critical not only in disasters. Due to increased global demand due to COVIDー19 HeiGIT increased the API quota for the Openrouteservice multi vehicle route optimization endpoint! Now you can send up to 500 requests per day for each account for free. If you are in need for even higher problem sizes please contact us.

The optimize endpoint of Openrouteservice is based on the Vroom engine, which is capable of solving complex Vehicle Routing Problems (VRP) in record time. This type of problem always occurs when multiple locations need to be visited in the optimal order by one or more vehicles. Consequently, it’s most valuable for logistics planning, but is also useful for traveling sales persons (which actually is the name of a particular VRP). Using that job and vehicle scheduling is a breeze. Openrouteservice uses current OpenStreetMap data for the whole globe.

The optimization service supports advanced parameters to constrain the optimization, such as:

  • capacities: each vehicle can have separate capacities for multiple goods, each job will consume a vehicle’s capacity
  • time windows: each vehicle can have a start and end time (e.g. working hours or opening hours of a supermarket), each job can have multiple time windows, expressed as week seconds, e.g. Mon 8 am = 28800
  • skills: each job can require skills the vehicle must meet
  • service duration: each job can take a specified amount of time
Optimize two vehicles for 6 jobs

Optimize two vehicles for 6 jobs in Berlin

The full documentation how to use this endpoint can be found in our Openrouteservice API documentation or on Vroom’s Github page.
The optimization works with all available profiles (car, various bike variants, pedestrian, wheelchair…) of OpenRrouteservice. It has also been implemented in the Python SDKJavaScriptR, and QGIS clients.

Below you find already a Jupyter notebook solving a disaster management logistics scenario in Python:

In that Jupyter notebook example we look at a typical humanitarian scenario of distributing medical goods during disaster response following one of the worst tropical cyclones ever been recorded in Africa: Cyclone Idai. In this scenario, a humanitarian organization shipped much needed medical goods to Beira, Mozambique, which were then dispatched to local vehicles to be delivered across the region. The supplies included vaccinations and medications for water-borne diseases such as Malaria and Cholera, so distribution efficiency was critical to contain disastrous epidemics. In total 20 sites were identified in need of the medical supplies, while 3 vehicles were scheduled for delivery. See here for the Jupyter code example of this example scenario:


This adds to the list of the free and open source ORS API features , which are all relevant for humanitarian and disaster logistics including

  • routing with directions for all different kinds of bicycle profiles, pedestrian, wheelchair, car and heavy vehicle
  • time-distance matrices
  • geocoding and reverse geocoding
  • isochrones for reachability applications
  • points of interest
  • elevation information for points and or linestrings
  • maps
Happy routing & optimizing!

Members of the 3DGeo research group were recently taking advantage of the good weather to acquire some more data within the DFG-funded project SYSSIFOSS. We packed the drone and the RIEGL miniVUX-1UAV laser scanner, and drove to the forest near Bretten where 8 of our plots are located. In four days and 16 flights we collected LiDAR data from all 8 plots with a size of 1 ha each.

We immediately processed the UAV-borne laser scanning (ULS) data and compared it to point clouds that were acquired last summer, when the deciduous trees had their leaves. By looking into amplitude values in the leaf-off data, it is possible to visually distinguish between evergreen and deciduous trees, since the latter lose their leaves and the laser pulse is hitting small branches that have lower reflectance than leaves. This is even further emphasized when comparing it to the data from leaf-on conditions where leaves are on the trees, hence, the amplitude values are much higher.

Another benefit of having leaf-off LiDAR data is the better penetration of the canopy, especially in case of deciduous trees, which results in higher point density in the lower parts of the forest. Thus, tree stems and branching structure as well as the ground and undergrowth are represented much more detailed, opening numerous new possibilities for further research using these datasets.

Within the SYSSIFOSS project, the ULS data will be aligned with the TLS data and then used for validating model trees extracted from the ALS data. Additionally, the point clouds of model trees will be inserted into our laser scanning simulator HELIOS where the effect of different flight planning settings will be investigated.

Find further details about the SYSSIFOSS project on the project website, in recent blogposts, or on Twitter (#SYSSIFOSS).

SYSSIFOSS is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) - project number: 411263134.

While naturally all of our features are already accessible via the openrouteservice API, we have now made some of the newer routing features accessible in our Maps Client on maps.openrouteservice.org.

Alternative routes

We all know that getting second opinions or suggestions for things can give you a better sense of security and allow for a broadening of your horizons. Similarly, having an alternative option when looking for the shortest or fastest routes from A to B provides the opportunity to choose from both available ones and better evaluate the suitability for the best route depending on the current situation or mood. To switch to the alternative route, you can simply click on the entry in the sidebar or directly select it in the map.

Alternative routes in openrouteservice

Alternative routes in openrouteservice

In spite of the obvious benefits, there are some limitations to this feature. The range between the start and end points of the route must be below 100km because of the additional computation load on the server. Although the computation time will increase the closer the route distance is to the limit, for shorter routes you won’t feel a difference. We are working on improving the algorithm to support this feature also for longer distances.

Alternative routes are disabled by default but can be activated in the settings (gearwheel in the red menu bar). Your choice will be remembered in upcoming visits.


The round-trip feature introduces the option to generate a circular route originating from a single point that represents both start and end point of the endeavour. You can adjust the approximate route length, the roundness, and a “randomization” factor where the value resolves to the general direction of the route. Such round trip routing is great for things like planning a recreational walk, jog, or bike ride where you know how far you want to go but do not know where.

Roundtrip routeing in openrouteservice

Roundtrip routing in openrouteservice

Also for this feature there is a limitation to 100km for the above-mentioned reasons. Still the input length is treated as a reference value. The deviation between the actual distance of the returned route and the requested approximate distance value can vary considerably for different profiles and roundness values. Usually the returned trips are a bit longer which can be regulated by lowering the input distance.

Direct Waypoints

A very handy feature that has been around for some time now but should non the less be highlighted, is using the skip-segments parameter of the API. When planning a trip, it might occur that one of the waypoints is not found on the underlying graph (e.g. missing osm data or unpassable terrain) and a route can therefore not be calculated. By right-clicking on the map it is possible to add direct instead of normal waypoints, which will skip the shortest path calculation for the segment between the last and the newly added waypoint.

Direct way points in openrouteservice

Direct way points in openrouteservice

Although you won’t receive any extra information for skipped segments, the direct waypoints are a powerful feature to force openrouteservice to traverse areas of missing data or “unpassable” terrain (e.g. meadow, river) where you already know that you will pass through anyways. You still should make sure that this part of the route really is legally passable and not blocked on purpose out of safety or military reasons for your own sake.

As always: Happy routing!

User-generated map data is increasingly used by the technology industry for background mapping, navigation and beyond. An example is the integration of OpenStreetMap (OSM) data in widely-used smartphone and web applications, such as Pokémon GO (PGO), a popular augmented reality smartphone game. As a result of OSM’s increased popularity, the worldwide audience that uses OSM through external applications is directly exposed to malicious edits which represent cartographic vandalism. Multiple reports of obscene and anti-semitic vandalism in OSM have surfaced in popular media over the years. These negative news related to cartographic vandalism undermine the credibility of collaboratively generated maps. Similarly, commercial map providers (e.g., Google Maps and Waze) are also prone to carto-vandalism through their crowdsourcing mechanism that they may use to keep their map products up-to-date. Using PGO as an example, this research analyzes harmful edits in OSM that originate from PGO players. More specifically, a recently published paper analyzes the spatial, temporal and semantic characteristics of PGO carto-vandalism and discusses how the mapping community handles it. Our findings indicate that most harmful edits are quickly discovered and that the community becomes faster at detecting and fixing these harmful edits over time. Gaming related carto-vandalism in OSM was found to be a short-term, sporadic activity by individuals, whereas the task of fixing vandalism is persistently pursued by a dedicated user group within the OSM community. The characteristics of carto-vandalism identified in this research can be used to improve vandalism detection systems in the future.

Juhász, L.; Novack, T.; Hochmair, H.H.; Qiao, S. Cartographic Vandalism in the Era of Location-Based Games—The Case of OpenStreetMap and Pokémon GO. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2020, 9, 197.

Earlier work:

Neis, P., Goetz, M. & Zipf, A. (2012): Towards Automatic Vandalism Detection in OpenStreetMap. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. Vol.1(3), pp.315-332. DOI:10.3390/ijgi1030315.

Neis, P. & Zipf, A. (2012): Analyzing the Contributor Activity of a Volunteered Geographic Information Project – The Case of OpenStreetMap. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. Vol.1(2), pp.146-165. MDPI. DOI:10.3390/ijgi1020146 .

Barron, C., Neis, P. & Zipf, A. (2013): A Comprehensive Framework for Intrinsic OpenStreetMap Quality Analysis. Transactions in GIS, DOI: 10.1111/tgis.12073.

General Overview

Yan, Y., C. Feng, W. Huang, H. Fan, Y. Wang & A. Zipf (2020): Volunteered geographic information research in the first decade: a narrative review of selected journal articles in GIScience. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2020.1730848

Degrossi L.C., J. Porto de Albuquerque, R. dos Santos Rocha, A. Zipf (2018): A taxonomy of quality assessment methods for volunteered and crowdsourced geographic information. Transactions in GIS (TGIS). Wiley. DOI:10.1111/tgis.12329.

Jokar Arsanjani, J., Zipf, A., Mooney, P., Helbich, M. (Eds.)(2015): OpenStreetMap in GIScience: Experiences, Research, and Applications. Series: Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography. 2015, VII, 373 p. Sringer Science. Heidelberg, Berlin. ISBN 978-3-319-14279-1

Many informative maps are available to follow the spread of COVID-19. This is important information but only part of the story. The global scientific and medical communities have immediately responded to the outbreak with focused research activities. This has led to clinical trials and scientific publications worldwide. The Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT) at Heidelberg University developed together with Markus Ries from the Center for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, University Hospital Heidelberg a Map of COVID-19 Clinical Trials.

Fig: Map of Clinical Trials related to Covid-19 available at: https://covid-19.heigit.org/

Take a look at the “Map of Hope” and get a geographical overview on planned, ongoing and finished clinical trials related to COVID-19. The map shows the location of clinical trials differentiated by study type. The time slider allows to analyze when studies were registered at the different (national) registries. The location of the studies is accurate to the city level.

The information on clinical trials is based on data from the WHO Clinical Trials Search Portal about COVID-19 related clinical trials. The Clinical Trials Search Portal provides access to a central database containing the trial registration data sets provided by important international registries. The WHO portal gets updated every Friday by six important registries and every 4 weeks by additional registries. We aim at updating our maps without too much delay.

Medical know-how comes from Markus Ries, data pre-processing and the service deployment is performed by the HeiGIT team members. Geocoding was done using the openrouteservice API. This is a free to use service by HeiGIT for many geographical applications such as geocoding, routing and accessibility analysis. Please contact us if you are interested in using it for your research, especially if it is related to health and disaster management.

This is a first draft prototype and work in progress, we are looking forward to your comments and ideas. Any assistance welcome. Stay tuned and check again for updates soon.


25 Jahre Klaus Tschira Stiftung: KTS fördert zum Jubiläum zahlreiche 25er Aktionen - HeiGIT mit 25 Mapathons dabei

In diesem Jahr wird die Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS) 25 Jahre alt. Zu ihrem Jubiläum hat sich die Stiftung eine ganze Reihe von Aktionen überlegt, die der Gesellschaft zugutekommen sollen. Die Vorhaben drehen sich überwiegend um die Zahl 25 und finden – sofern möglich – im Jubiläumsjahr statt oder beginnen in diesem.

Alle Aktionen werden von der Stiftung gefördert und von ihr selbst sowie von den Instituten, die die KTS gegründet hat oder die sie unterstützt, veranlasst. Sie konzentrieren sich auf die Bereiche Wissenschaftskommunikation, Forschung und Bildung, also auf die Felder, in denen die Klaus Tschira Stiftung vor allem tätig ist.

Die Stiftung denkt in diesen Tagen auch zurück an das Jahr 2015. Im 20. Gründungsjahr war am 31. März unerwartet der Stifter Klaus Tschira gestorben. Der Physiker und SAP-Gründer hatte seine Stiftung Ende 1995 als gemeinnützige GmbH gegründet und mit dem größeren Teil seines privaten Vermögens ausgestattet. Gefördert werden seither Naturwissenschaften, Mathematik und Informatik sowie die Wertschätzung für diese Fächer. Heute gehört die Klaus Tschira Stiftung zu den großen gemeinnützigen Stiftungen Europas.

Die Aktionen zum 25-jährigen KTS-Jubiläum

Die Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS) fördert im Jubiläumsjahr vier besondere Aktionen:

In der Corona-Krise verbreiten sich Halbwahrheiten und Fake News besonders schnell. Seit Auftreten der ersten Corona-Fälle ist das Science Media Center Germany für Journalistinnen und Journalisten zu einer unersetzlichen Quelle evidenzbasierter Informationen geworden, das heißt von Informationen, die auf gesicherten wissenschaftlichen Ergebnissen beruhen. Zudem vermittelt das SMC-Team Einschätzungen ausgewiesener Expertinnen und Experten an die Medien. Alle Informationen sollen so schnell wie möglich zu den Medienschaffenden gelangen und ihnen eine fundierte Berichterstattung erleichtern.

Damit das SMC seiner enormen Verantwortung gerade in der aktuellen Lage gerecht werden kann, entwickelt es neue, der Situation angepasste, Webinare und weitere Formate. In einem Forschungsprojekt erstellt es eine Website, die Umfragedaten zur Risikowahrnehmung der Bevölkerung darstellt und aktuelle evidenzbasierte Kommunikationsstrategien erprobt. Die Klaus Tschira Stiftung, die das SMC gegründet hat und maßgeblich fördert, hat für diese erweiterten Aufgaben in Zeiten der Corona-Krise eine sofortige Sonderförderung in beträchtlicher Höhe zugesagt. www.sciencemediacenter.de

Mit einem Film erinnert die KTS an den Physiker, SAP-Mitgründer und Stifter Klaus Tschira (1940 –2015). Der Journalist Eberhard Reuß erstellte das Porträt dieses außergewöhnlichen Menschen, der das zurzeit wertvollste Unternehmen Deutschlands mitgründete und privat eine der großen gemeinnützigen Stiftungen Europas ins Leben rief: https://www.klaus-tschira-stiftung.de/ueber-uns/stifter/

Mit dem KlarText-Preis für Wissenschaftskommunikation zeichnet die Klaus Tschira Stiftung jährlich Forschende aus, die einen anschaulichen und allgemein verständlichen Beitrag über ihre Doktorarbeit verfasst haben. Das Preisgeld pro Preisträger wird ab 2020 um je 2.500 Euro auf dann 7.500 Euro erhöht. www.klartext-preis.de

In ihrer ersten Podcast-Serie bringt die Klaus Tschira Stiftung Menschen aus unterschiedlichen Bereichen der Gesellschaft miteinander ins Gespräch. Im Podcast „Treffen sich Welten“ werden sich bekannte Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler mit Prominenten aus Politik, Wirtschaft, Kultur und Sport austauschen. Wie sehr unterscheiden sich diese Welten tatsächlich? Welche Gedanken werden bei diesen Treffen ausgesprochen, und welche neuen Ideen werden geboren?  Die Podcast-Serie soll im Herbst starten. www.klaus-tschira-stiftung.de

Bereich Wissenschaftskommunikation

Wenn Forschung Schlagzeilen macht, wenn die Gesellschaft Themen wie den Klimawandel diskutiert, oder wenn Großereignisse zeitnah nach wissenschaftlicher Einordnung verlangen, dann setzt die Arbeit des Science Media Center Germany (SMC) in Köln ein: Schnell und fundiert liefert es zuverlässige Fakten und Einschätzungen von anerkannten Fachleuten aus der Wissenschaft an die Medien. Damit trägt es zu einer aufgeklärten Diskussion von kontroversen, komplexen oder ambivalenten Themen bei, die große gesellschaftliche Relevanz haben.

Die Kampagne „Together for Fact News“ soll das SMC – als Garant von Kompetenz, Unabhängigkeit und Glaubwürdigkeit – in seinen Zielgruppen Forschende und Medienschaffende bekannter machen. Dazu schafft das SMC zum KTS-Jubiläumsjahr 25 Anlässe. In Interviews, Filmen oder Veranstaltungen sucht das SMC-Team gemeinsam mit Forschenden und Journalisten nach tragfähigen Konzepten für den aufgeklärten Diskurs über Themen mit Wissenschaftsbezug – auch jenseits der Corona-Krise.

25 Kommunikationstipps veröffentlicht das Nationale Institut für Wissenschaftskommunikation (NaWik) auf verschiedenen Social-Media-Kanälen (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube). Die Tipps kommen aus den fünf Bereichen: Grundlagen der Wissenschaftskommunikation, Schreibtipps, Visuelle Kommunikation, Soziale Medien sowie Dialog. Es geht beispielsweise um die Kommunikation mit verschiedenen Zielgruppen, Storytelling, Illustration, neue Formate in Sozialen Medien, Präsentationen von Forschungsinhalten, Krisenkommunikation, Vertrauen und vieles mehr. Alle 25 Kommunikationstipps werden schrittweise auch auf www.nawik.de festgehalten.

Bereich Forschung

Weil in vielen Regionen der Welt genaue und öffentlich zugängliche Landkarten fehlen, will das Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT) 25 Mapathons in ganz Deutschland ermöglichen. Bei einem „Mapathon“ treffen sich Freiwillige für einige Stunden, um gemeinsam Geo-Daten für Landkarten zu erfassen – es ist quasi ein „Hackathon“ zur Erstellung einer „Map“ (Karte). Die Daten, etwa Luft- oder Satellitenbilder, werden in „OpenStreetMap“ eingefügt, einem Projekt, das eine umfassende kostenfreie Weltkarte im Internet erstellen möchte. Bedeutsam ist die Erstellung von Karten in unterentwickelten Gebieten, weil sie dort die Einsätze internationaler Hilfsorganisationen ermöglichen oder erleichtern. Bei den 25 Mapathons arbeitet HeiGIT daher mit dem Deutschen Roten Kreuz zusammen. https://heigit.org/

Die Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation (HLFF) lädt jährlich Preisträgerinnen und Preisträger der höchsten Auszeichnungen der Mathematik und Informatik zu einem Netzwerktreffen mit ausgewählten jungen Forschenden aus aller Welt ein. Bei der sechstägigen Tagung und dem umfangreichen Begleitprogramm steht der Austausch zwischen den Laureaten und den Nachwuchswissenschaftlerinnen und -wissenschaftlern im Mittelpunkt. Zudem vergibt die HLFF jedes Jahr Travel Grants, um Wissenschaftsjournalistinnen und -journalisten aus der ganzen Welt eine Teilnahme am Heidelberg Laureate Forum zu ermöglichen. Jährlich dürfen je 100 junge Forschende aus der Mathematik und der Informatik am HLF teilnehmen. Im KTS-Jubiläumsjahr sind 25 weitere Teilnehmende aus der Mathematik, Informatik und den Medien eingeladen.


Im Heidelberger Institut für Theoretische Studien (HITS) forschen rund 120 Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler aus 20 Ländern. Sie analysieren und strukturieren komplexe Datenmengen in den Naturwissenschaften. Darüber hinaus engagieren sie sich im Dialog mit der Öffentlichkeit über ihre Forschung. Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter des HITS möchten erneut am Spendenlauf des Nationalen Centrums für Tumorerkrankungen (NCT) in Heidelberg teilnehmen. Die Startgebühr der HITS-Läuferinnen und -Läufer wird mit 25 multipliziert und geht als Spende an das NCT. www.h-its.org

Bereich Bildung

Die Forscherstation – das Klaus-Tschira-Kompetenzzentrum für frühe naturwissenschaftliche Bildung – qualifiziert pädagogische Fach- und Lehrkräfte in Kindertagesstätten und Grundschulen. Mit einem Patenschaftsprogramm hat sie darüber hinaus bereits über 50 dieser Einrichtungen mit ihrer eigenen „Forscherstation“ ausgestattet. Dort stehen Kindern und ihren Betreuern Ideen und Materialien zur Verfügung, mit denen sie jederzeit Naturphänomene im Alltag erforschen können. Zum 25-jährigen Jubiläum der KTS richtet das Kompetenzzentrum 25 weitere Forscherstationen ein. www.forscherstation.info

Das Carl Bosch Museum bringt seinen Besuchern Leben und Wirken des Chemie-Nobelpreisträgers Carl Bosch nahe. Im früheren Wohnhaus von Carl Bosch sitzt heute die Klaus Tschira Stiftung, in seinem ehemaligen Garagenhaus das Carl Bosch Museum. Mit zahlreichen Sonderausstellungen, museumspädagogischen Programmen sowie Veranstaltungen bietet das Museum für alle Altersgruppen abwechslungsreiche Einblicke in naturwissenschaftlich-technische Themen. Zum Jubiläumsjahr der KTS wird es zu 25 besonderen Objekten des Museums den wissenschaftlichen Hintergrund verständlich erläutern. www.carl-bosch-museum.de

Die Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS) fördert Naturwissenschaften, Mathematik und Informatik und möchte zur Wertschätzung dieser Fächer beitragen. Sie wurde 1995 von dem Physiker und SAP-Mitgründer Klaus Tschira (1940–2015) mit privaten Mitteln ins Leben gerufen. Ihre drei Förderschwerpunkte sind: Bildung, Forschung und Wissenschaftskommunikation. Das bundesweite Engagement beginnt im Kindergarten und setzt sich in Schulen, Hochschulen und Forschungseinrichtungen fort. Die Stiftung setzt sich für den Dialog zwischen Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft ein. Weitere Informationen unter:


Foto: © Klaus Tschira Stiftung

As noted in a previous blogpost, the scientific committee of the Academic Track of State of the Map 2019 -  Dr. Yair Grinberger, until recently a member of the GIScience research group, Dr. Marco Minghini, Dr. Levente Juhász, Dr. Peter Mooney, and Dr. Godwin Yeboah - is organizing a special issue of the ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information dedicated solely to OpenStreetMap research.

The deadline of the call for papers for this special issue has now been extended to 31 August 2020.

The aim of the “OpenStreetMap as  a Multi-Disciplinary Nexus: Perspectives, Practices, and Procedures” Special Issue is to showcase both the ongoing innovation and the maturity of scientific investigations and research into OpenStreetMap. We expect empirical, methodological, or conceptual contributions addressing any scientific aspect related to OpenStreetMap, in particular, but not limited, to the following:

  • Extrinsic and intrinsic quality assessment of OpenStreetMap data
  • Analysis of contribution patterns in OpenStreetMap
  • Interactions between OpenStreetMap and other data sources
  • Analysis/comparison of available software for scientific purposes related to OpenStreetMap
  • New approaches to facilitate or improve data collection in OpenStreetMap (e.g., through gamification or citizen science approaches)
  • Bridging the communities: Creating better connections and collaborations between the scientific community and the OpenStreetMap community
  • Open research problems in OpenStreetMap and challenges for the scientific community
  • Cultural, political, and organizational aspects of data production and usage practices in OpenStreetMap
  • Literature reviews and theoretical papers on any of the listed topics or topics related to the scope of the Special Issue
For more details, see the Special Issue’s webpage.

We are pleased to share that because of the response to our work, ISPRS IJGI selected our paper on Detecting Graffiti with Street View Images and Deep Learning to be highlighted as a title story through some graphics on the journals main page.

Novack T, Vorbeck L, Lorei H, Zipf A. (2020): Towards Detecting Building Facades with Graffiti Artwork Based on Street View Images. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. 2020; 9(2):98.

As a recognized type of art, graffiti is a cultural asset and an important aspect of a city’s aesthetics. As such, graffiti is associated with social and commercial vibrancy and is known to attract tourists. However, positional uncertainty and incompleteness are current issues of open geo-datasets containing graffiti data. In a recently published paper, we present an deep learning approach towards detecting building facades with graffiti artwork based on the automatic interpretation of images from Google Street View (GSV).
It starts with the identification of geo-tagged photos of graffiti artwork posted on the photo sharing media Flickr. GSV images are then extracted from the surroundings of these photos and interpreted by a customized, i.e. transfer learned, convolutional neural network (CNN). The compass heading of the GSV images classified as containing graffiti artwork and the possible positions of their acquisition are considered for scoring building facades according to their potential of containing the artwork observable in the GSV images. More than 36,000 GSV images and 5,000 facades from buildings represented in OpenStreetMap were processed and evaluated for a case study in London (UK).

Precision and recall rates were computed for different facade score thresholds. False-positive errors are caused mostly by advertisements and scribblings on the building facades as well as by movable objects containing graffiti artwork and obstructing the facades. However, considering higher scores as threshold for detecting facades containing graffiti leads to the perfect precision rate.
Our approach can be applied for identifying previously unmapped graffiti artwork and for assisting map contributors interested in the topic. Furthermore, researchers interested on the spatial correlations between graffiti artwork and socio-economic factors can profit from our open-access code and results.

Last week, members of GIScience Heidelberg participated in the 40th annual meeting of the DGPF (German association for photogrammetry and remote sensing) in Stuttgart, Germany.

Presentations were contributed by PhD students Lukas Winiwarter and Katharina Anders (3DGeo Research Group), as well as former GIScience fellow Jun-Prof. Dr. René Westerholt. Read up on the presented topics in the DGPF proceedings (in German):

Anders, K., Winiwarter, L., Mara, H., Lindenbergh, R.C., Vos, S.E. & Höfle, B. (2020): Einfluss der zeitlichen Auflösung auf die raumzeitliche Segmentierung geomorphologischer Änderungsprozesse in 3D-Punktwolken. In: 40. Wissenschaftlich-Technische Jahrestagung der DGPF. Vol. 29, pp. 312-316.

Lorei, H., Höfle, B. & Westerholt, R. (2020): Spatial Structure as an Element of Motivation in Location-Based Games. In: 40. Wissenschaftlich-Technische Jahrestagung der DGPF. Vol. 29, pp. 290-298.

Winiwarter, L., Anders, K. & Höfle, B. (2020): Herausforderungen in der Fehlerfortpflanzung von Laserscandaten für multitemporale Analysen zur verbesserten Quantifizierung des Level of Detection. In: 40. Wissenschaftlich-Technische Jahrestagung der DGPF. Vol. 29, pp. 373-380.

Further big news: In the frame of the meeting, the lead of the working group Geoinformatics (AK Methodik Geoinformatik) was handed over from Prof. Dr. Bernhard Höfle and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jan-Henrik Haunert to the new chairs Jun-Prof. Dr. René Westerholt and Dr. Franz-Benjamin Mocnik - congratulations!

If you’re interested in meeting and discussing with colleagues of the community, the next opportunity will be the PhD colloquium on “Methods for analysing spatiotemporal data, in October 2020 in Dortmund, Germany. The call is open: https://www.geoinfo.uni-bonn.de/publikationen/2020/gimethods2020/

This week, at the prestigious GSMA MWC series (formally known as Mobile World Congress) MapSwipe was awarded the top prize in the Global Mobile Awards’ category for the Best Mobile Innovation Supporting Emergency or Humanitarian Situations. The award recognizes how mobile connectivity can provide a lifeline in major humanitarian disasters, providing access to critical information and communication. The judges prized MapSwipe as  “an exceptionally important project with clear results and impact across multiple geographies – definitely a stand-out winner showing clear innovation and potential”.

The team at the Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT) and the GIScience Research Group at Heidelberg University has shaped MapSwipe’s development from the very beginning by designing the crowdsourcing approach behind MapSwipe, providing the tools needed to manage such a global project and make use of the data in timely manner. As part of the Missing Maps project, MapSwipe is a mobile app that was created to crowdsource map data from a network of global volunteers - just one swipe at a time. Individuals, volunteers from communities all over the world, can swipe through the app and tap areas where they find crucial infrastructure such as buildings and roads, identify changes in areas.

Through the research at HeiGIT and GIScience Research Group Heidelberg University it will soon be able to use machine-learning technologies to improve the open mapping. HeiGIT provides an API for enriched data sets based on MapSwipe results for humanitarian organization, develops and researches new project types such as for change detection or improving data completeness and also develops tutorials to help users contribute better data, to name a few Heidelberg contributions since the initial concept development.

MapSwipe is an open source project built and maintained by volunteers, with the support of the British Red Cross, HeiGIT and the GIScience Research Group, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and Medecins Sans Frontieres. The projects have supported a range of missions and global organizations, such as the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and Medecins Sans Frontieres, as well as local NGOs like the Tanzania Development Trust and MapPH.

Once a project has been requested by a community, the MapSwipe team creates it in the app, using imagery from a variety of sources and creating instructions that help the user to understand what to look for and the resulting action they should take. Each set of imagery is viewed by at least 3 individuals to improve data-quality. Users can track their impact, receiving badges for the distance swiped.

MapSwipe has engaged more than 29,000 volunteers around the world to map vulnerable communities across 29 different countries, with projects ranging from supporting the refugee response in Colombia, identifying populations for vaccination campaigns in Chad, and identifying buildings in the Democratic Republic of Congo to support ongoing response to the Ebola outbreak. The data can be used to identify population size and needs, address critical health challenges and prevent the spread of disease, and create resilience for communities in the midst of climate change. To date, volunteers have swiped over 850,000 sq.km of imagery, nearly the size of Pakistan.

The team behind MapSwipe wants to send a big “Thank You” to all our passionate volunteers that keep on swiping day to day and help us filling the missing maps.

The objective of HeiGIT gGmbH is to improve knowledge and technology transfer from fundamental research in geoinformatics to practical applications. This includes developing open geoinformation technology related to disaster, health and environmental topics. A focus is on generating open geoinformation data products, routing and navigation based on OpenStreetMap data, improving mobile crowdsourcing apps, and research on analysing and improving open geodata or effective combination of crowdsourcing and machine learning. HeiGIT receives core funding from the Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS).

Selected related references from HeiGIT/GIScience:


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