Unpredictable global connections to map a Philippine village

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Nov 18, 2020

Unpredictable global connections to map a Philippine village


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Nov 18, 2020

This month, the OpenStreetMap (OSM) and FOSS4G communities are gathering virtually for the annual Pista ng Mapa conference in the Philippines, in concert with OSM GeoWeek. As an example of the global collaboration that is made possible by OSM, I want to share with you the story of Lupang Arenda in the Philippines, where I am based.

Lupang Arenda Barangay Santa Ana, Taytay is an urban village just east of Metro Manila. Over the last two years, this community has been mapped in precise detail through the efforts of local mappers, drone pilots, local government workers, and Mapbox. Together through OpenStreetMap, this coalition has built accurate, highly detailed maps and imagery to help the local community with land registration and other community initiatives.

It started with a flag about OSM editing activity. Every day, the Mapbox Data team in Minsk reviews and validates all map changes from OpenStreetMap. When a suspicious edit is flagged, it is blocked from the living map data pipeline and the edit is investigated. Edits are either corrected or observations are shared back to the OpenStreetMap community, through the validation tool OSMCha

Two years ago, edits in the region of Lupang Arenda set off alerts about personally identifiable information being added to the map. Personal information does not belong in open data. My team immediately reached out to the local OpenStreetMap community in the Philippines about the incident, local mappers removed the personal data and connected with the group making the edits to offer support. 

We learned that the map editors were using OpenStreetMap within their barangay (Filipino for “village”, and the smallest administrative unit in the country) to record land ownership and to inform the community about local hazards and disaster vulnerabilities - particularly flooding in low-lying areas. Inspired by the effort, the Philippines OpenStreetMap community provided training and found additional sources of reference data to support the mapping, including drone imagery.

Volunteers used the DJI Go app to plan the imagery capture.

Lupang Arenda is so dense that existing sources of satellite imagery don’t reveal enough detail to map buildings and other infrastructure accurately. To support the effort, local drone enthusiasts and several OpenStreetMap volunteers visited Lupang Arenda to collect drone imagery.

Drone imagery showing localized flooding due to blocked drainage canals.

The collected imagery was processed using OpenDroneMap and then uploaded to HOTOSM’s OpenAerialMap. The imagery is now the default base layer for this area in OpenStreetMap’s iD web editor, for digitization by anyone in the mapping community.

iD Editor using the high resolution drone imagery for tracing buildings.

The new imagery allowed more accurate tracing of buildings and made it easier to validate data for Lupang Arenda’s land registration system. The private information originally added in OpenStreetMap was moved to a separate database that is accessible only to the project managers to ensure that confidential information is secure. Today, the village mappers have completed mapping all buildings and have started using the imagery in other community planning activities.

The detailed data of Lupang Arenda from OSM is also now in Mapbox basemaps.

From a data quality alert handled in Minsk, to drone-aided land registration for a village in the Philippines, OpenStreetMap makes it easy to build amazing collaborations. Make sure to tune in to Pista ng Mapa sessions for more stories like Lupang Arenda and local mapping initiatives, and for the session on working with the Mapbox Community team to use maps and open data for positive impact. Happy mapping!

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