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Mapping Hope: Open Source Unites in the Face of Crisis

In the wake of the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, the world witnessed the transformative power of open source collaboration. Over 9,000 individuals came together, utilizing the strength of open tools like the Tasking Manager to provide aid and support to the affected regions. This collaborative effort centered around OpenStreetMap (OSM) and its Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) platform, illustrating how open source can be a beacon of hope in times of crisis.

A Symphony of Open Collaboration

The Türkiye and Syria Earthquake Response unfolded as a symphony of open collaboration. From editing OpenStreetMap to providing open licensed satellite imagery, the community worked across various open source tools, with the Tasking Manager playing a crucial role. The result? A constantly updated and accurate map that empowered humanitarian organizations and civil societies to navigate disaster areas, coordinate responses, and assess damages.

A Surge of Solidarity: The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT)

The success story of this open response is incomplete without acknowledging the key players: the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) and the global OSM community. These entities served as vital connectors, linking local communities and humanitarian organizations to urgent information. Their work is a testament to the power of open collaboration in addressing critical challenges.

Voices from the Front Lines: Dr. Çevik and Dr. Uçum

In the midst of the crisis, voices emerged from the front lines, underlining the importance of open tools. Dr. Çevik, a Turkish surgeon, expressed gratitude for tools like Organic Maps and OpenStreetMap when traditional navigation failed. Dr. Uçum from Kahramanmaraş highlighted how OSM data-supported maps aided logistics and operations in camps, later used by local authorities for planning and infrastructure.

Years of Preparation Leading to Swift Response

The success of integrating OSM into a large-scale response didn't happen overnight. It was the result of years of socialization and education by OSM communities in Türkiye and beyond. Organizations like Yer Çizenler, a local NGO within the OSM Türkiye community, played a crucial role in raising awareness on open data and mapping. Their coordination with HOT in the aftermath of the earthquake showcased the power of long-term preparation.

Innovation Amid Complexity: Syria Response

While Türkiye faced its challenges, the response in Syria presented a unique set of complexities due to the ongoing conflict. HOT worked closely with OSM colleagues and partners, carefully assessing tasks to avoid causing harm. The workflow involved rendering satellite imagery into manageable tasks through the HOT Tasking Manager, adapting as new information emerged.

Building Bridges with Satellite Imagery and Drones

The collaboration extended beyond mapping. Satellite imagery, with Creative Commons licenses, was uploaded to OpenAerialMap by HOT, creating an open data platform. Drone images, generously provided by Help.NGO, further enriched the dataset. Free and open software facilitated integrations, increasing data accessibility and usability.

A Growing Community: The Heart of the Response

The response saw a national volunteer community of over 1,200 individuals within the first week. Daily "mapathons" guided by local communities supported mapping tasks. In just one month, the global OSM community grew to include 8,414 contributors from every region. Additional datasets, organized editing activities, and collaboration enhanced the OSM database with crucial information.

Yer Çizenler: Pioneers of Open Advocacy

The roots of success trace back to key players like Yer Çizenler, founded in 2017 to advocate for open methodologies, open data, and open mapping in Turkey. Their efforts paved the way for the response, connecting OSM-TR community with universities, governmental organizations, and open communities globally.

Looking Ahead: A Long-Term Commitment

As the active humanitarian response continues, Yer Çizenler's focus is on coordinating with organizations and engaging the volunteer community. The long-term goal includes documenting open workflows, offering lessons on incorporating open source, open data, and open methodologies for effective emergency responses.

In the face of crisis, this collective effort reinforces the belief that open collaboration is not just a method but a lifeline, offering hope and assistance when it's needed most. As we reflect on this inspiring response, the journey towards interoperable and open solutions during emergencies continues, guided by the principles of speed, quality, and service. Share your thoughts and examples in the comments, as we learn and grow together in the realm of open source humanitarian aid. Credit:

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