My name is Grace Donovan and I am about to start my junior year at the George Washington University where I study Environmental Studies, Sustainability, and Geographic Information Systems. I will be starting the position of training coordinator for GW’s Humanitarian Mapping Society in the fall and am a current participant in the YouthMappers virtual summer internship program. These past few months I have been a part of YouthMapper’s new validation hub.
The validation hub is composed of a small group of students from George Washington University who are paid validators. The purpose of this hub is to push forward an effort to validate old YouthMapper’s projects that have been completely mapped for a long time but need to be validated by a more experienced mapper. Before joining the validation hub, I familiarized myself with Java OpenStreetMap (JOSM) and Andrew Wiseman’s Validation Workflow document. JOSM is a great software to use for validation because there is a tool within JOSM that highlights most mistakes and errors making it easier for the validator to go in and fix those problems before uploading the data to OpenStreetMap. Learning JOSM in depth and becoming comfortable with it has been a really rewarding aspect of joining the validation effort. It has made the validation workflow more efficient and has also helped me to map on other tasks more efficiently as well.
Validation is a crucial part of Open Street Map and making sure the data exported from this platform is reliable and correct. The validation process can be summarized by an experienced mapper going into completely mapped squares and checking over all the work done in that specific area to make sure it is correct. The validator makes changes and corrects mistakes before marking the square as valid and messaging the mapper. There have been three types of mistakes that have been the most common in the projects I have begun to validate so far: Geographic errors, Tagging errors, and Completeness errors. We have tried our best to correct these mistakes instead of invalidating the square because since the project had been completed months to years ago, the mappers are not as likely to fix their squares. This experience has made me realize the importance of quick validation on tasks in the HOT Tasking Manager.
The final step of the validation process is to message the users that mapped in the square you have validated with supportive, polite comments that provide them with constructive criticism to help them be better mappers. Messaging users helps to retain mappers because it shows them that their changesets are not going unnoticed and are appreciated by the Open Street Map community. The constructive criticism they receive during the validation process helps to maintain the integrity of the data coming from OSM and from YouthMappers.
In the future, I hope that the validation hub can expand to more schools and students around the world. I am excited to see if quick validation and feedback on projects will help to retain first-time mappers during Mapathons and expand the OSM and YouthMappers community.
Special thanks to the GW Geography Department and Chad Blevins of USAID for this opportunity!
Grace Donovan is a current junior at George Washington University in Washington D.C. She is currently studying Environmental Studies with a double minor in Sustainability and Geographic Information Systems. Grace is a part of Humanitarian Mapping Society at GW and will begin the role of training coordinator in the fall. She is also part of the Youth Mappers Virtual Internship program for the summer of 2019.