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  • Lucy Meyer, The George Washington University

Happy #ValidationFriday From the YouthMappers Validation Hub!

On Friday, October 25th, the YouthMappers (YM) Validation Hub hosted a validation party at the Spatial Analysis Lab on the George Washington University (GW) campus. Students, faculty, and professionals attended the event and were taught about the importance of data quality, the validation process using the advanced editing tool Java OpenStreetMap (JOSM), and the Hub’s recent priority task.

Figure 1. Attendees of the Hub’s #ValidationFriday event posing with the GW Geography alien mascot, Geoid.

What is the YM Validation Hub?

The YM Validation Hub was created in summer 2019 by the team at GW. The Hub formed to ensure a high standard of data quality in OSM, to enhance validation techniques, and to facilitate a community of student mappers who are passionate about humanitarian mapping. The primary role of the organization is to validate the work of other OSM contributors, particularly from YouthMappers affiliated tasks. In addition, the Hub aspires to engage with new and current mappers by virtue of in-person training sessions, and online communication via HotTaskingManager (HOT), a collaborative mapping tool that operates with OSM. Currently, the Hub consists of a group of experienced OSM student mappers from GW. (My name is Lucy and I am one of five students that are a part of the Hub!).

The Hub’s validation event is an ode to the event’s founder – Missing Maps. Missing Maps is a humanitarian project that maps regions around the world which are vulnerable to conflict, epidemic, and natural disaster. In 2017, Missing Maps introduced the hashtag #ValidationFriday. #ValidationFriday is a reminder for users to validate and give positive feedback to fellow mappers. Inspired by the mindful and sympathetic efforts of Missing Maps, the YM Validation Hub presented its own interpretation of #ValidationFriday, by hosting an event where new and current mappers could learn about the validation process using JOSM and validate together.

To learn more about Missing Map’s #ValidationFriday initiative, check out Matt Gibb’s post on the Missing Maps blog here.

Validating HOT Project #2742 for PEPFAR in Siaya (Bondo), Kenya

For the last several months, the YM Hub has been validating Project #2742. This task focuses on the region adjacent to Siaya Lake in Bondo, Kenya. Moreover, this project assists The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a U.S. Government initiative that helps the lives of those suffering globally from HIV/AIDS. PEPFAR requested YouthMappers' assistance in creating an inventory of building and roads surrounding Bondo to understand whether HIV/AIDS services are appropriately placed. As of now, the project is completely mapped but needs to be validated to make sure the features are correctly mapped and tagged.

Mappers in attendance at the Hub’s #ValidationFriday training event contributed to validating this task. New and experienced mappers from GW and USAID learned how to validate using the advanced desktop editor JOSM. Mappers worked one-on-one with Hub members so that they could navigate through the editing platforms and ask questions. First, the Hub introduced the mappers to the project then showed them how to access the ‘Validate’ tab within HOT (Figure 2.).

Figure 2. Student Validator Grace Donovan showing a student how to access the ‘Validate’ tab in HOT.

Next, the mappers were introduced to JOSM. They downloaded and installed the editor, set up preferences and plug-ins, and walked through the tools using a tile from the selected task. This way, mappers were able to learn the fundamentals of JOSM while working on one of the Hub’s priority projects. Lastly, the Hub guided the new validators through the data uploading process. The beginner validators left changeset comments in JOSM, and reached out to previous mappers in the HOT comments section, leaving encouraging and informative suggestions.

Building Validators

Altogether, the new validators were given a taste of the work performed regularly by the Hub. In addition to building and expanding upon attendees map editing skills, the Hub’s #ValidationFriday training event also hoped to facilitate a community among a diverse group of mappers. Here, it was demonstrated that YouthMappers doesn’t just build maps or mappers, we also build validators!

Lucy Meyer is a senior at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. She is earning a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Environmental Studies, and a minor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). She is passionate about environmental conservation and management, and previously interned for the environmental watchdog non-profit SkyTruth. Currently, she is a member of the YouthMappers Validation Hub.

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