Take a spin around Lesotho with Mapillary

downloadMapillary is a mobile and tablet application which enables picture capture and sharing, as well as geo-tagging. It allows pictures to be assembled to form street views and panoramas. However, unlike the universally known google street view the picture data is crowdsourced, and so is free of copyright. The map is downloaded free from the play store, and app store.

Mapillary Icon

Mapillary Icon

 Mapillary is available to openstreetmap users in ID editor as a layer, and now lately in JOSM as a plugin. This gives a mapper a ground level view of a feature, additional to the top-down view which can limit perspective, and the likelyhood of correct interpretation and tagging. It gives the chance also to overcome the blurring and lack of rectification of some of the satellite tiles for Lesotho.
In February 2014 the Fingal Trainers in Lesotho tested Mapillary over a period of 10 days to see if it would be useful as a reference that would speed up mapping, and improve the accuracy of mapping. Thousands of images were captured by Dave Corley as the team travelled around urban Maseru and to the airport. A longer drive south to Ha’Mats’ebo on the border between Maseru and Mafeteng districts tested the usefulness of the application in rural areas. This drive took the opportunity to head east, into the generally flat terrain of Ha Phohleli Makoaleng, and then north to Mahlabateng.
Test route

Rural test route

A good example of a feature that cannot be interpreted correctly in Urban Lesotho is an overhead gantry. These gantries serve no traffic management purpose in Lesotho. However, they are used as a source of advertising income for Maseru City Council. These signs look like level road crossings, or zebra crossings from the air.
Overhead road signage

Overhead road signage

We intend to use Mapillary much more than this. Future tasks are going to rely on a variety of sources to capture ground truth, and improve accuracy and tag buildings correctly, as well as see roadsigns and walls and fences which sometimes aren’t visible from the air.

#MapLesotho – Heading towards a full basemap

12 months of edits

Its nearly a year since I started working with Fingal County Council on the #MapLesotho project and in that time a number of great milestones and activities have been completed so of which are:

  • Last July a huge mapathon with users from around the world added over half a million nodes of data for Lesotho
  • In Sept we had a mapping party in the Lesotho Embassy in Dublin with the Irish OSM community

Mapping party at Embassy of Lesotho in Dublin

  • A dedicated website has been setup – https://maplesotho.wordpress.com/
  • A series of classes where held with school children in Dublin teaching them to map and getting them involved in #MapLesotho

Fingal Council and Irish OSM members teaching in a Dublin school

A number of Irish OSM members / Fingal County Council staff are heading to Lesotho for 2 weeks from Feb 06th to 20th to work on the following:

1. Get the local mappers (there are quite a few now) more involved, editing more frequently and start discussions about them forming a Lesotho OSM group with semi-regular meetups
2. Train govt. planners (most are mappers) on the use of JOSM and OSM data with QGIS
3. Conduct a number of mapping sessions at the national university
4. Meet with govt. data owners to talk about release of (i) data to OSM for imports and (ii) permission to scan, recitfy and derive info from existing maps

We’ve still got 2 tasks running in the HOT tasking manager since last July’s mapathon which we’ve been silently tipping along on.

  • Urban Task (mostly buildings) – 52% complete – please focus on Maseru if choosing this one
  • Rural Task (mostly rivers, streams, roads) – 90% complete –

With all of this in mind, a number of the folks in Lesotho have set next Friday Jan 16th as a date for the next #MapLesotho mapathon. A large group are coming together in Dublin in the Fingal Council offices to carry out a supporting mapathon.

#MapLesotho Poster

We are looking for other groups around the world to again join in with us in our mapathons.

  • Organise you own mapathon / mapping party
  • Although it would be nice, it doesn’t have to be on the same date so chose a date that suits you
  • Promote #MapLesotho among your local OSM community. Drop a mail to your local mailing list or see if there are a few folks meeting up, they might like to work on this at their meetup
  • Join in anytime! The 2 tasks listed above have been running since July so feel free to just jump straight in and take a tile or two.