OpenAerialMap will lessen the tension of humanitarian image sharing


As a disaster manager or GIS and remotesensing expert you will easily accept how much it is difficult to collect, manage the remote sensing data (either aerialmaps or satellite images), during emergency. These remote sensing data is valuable in detecting and mapping many types of natural hazards when, as is often the case, detailed descriptions of their effects do not exist. If susceptibility to natural hazards can be identified in the early stages of an integrated development planning study, measures can be introduced to reduce the social and economic impacts of potential disasters. The good news is OpenAerialMap(OAM) brining a solution to this for disaster  manager or humanitarian mapping communities arround the world.  OAM is a set of tools for searching, sharing, and using openly licensed satellite and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)/ drone imagery. OAM is a browser for openly licensed satellite and drone imagery. Disaster response organizations like Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and satellite companies like Astro Digital have contributed thousands of overhead images from around the world. OpenAerialMap infrastructure will be extended to make it easier for individuals and communities to use, from the drone hobbyist with imagery to share, to the community worker who wants to analyze and annotate public areas in need of improvements. From many perspective OAM is better than the WMS which is a common standard for mapping service but bit old and useful for small area where OAM

  • Can access to larger areas – In general, WMS services limit request sizes to smaller than a certain area. This limit can be impractical for users who need to produce images for reports or other similar offline use.

  • It can be used offline – One of the canonical use cases for OAM-style imagery is for use in disaster situations. In those situations, access to an ‘online’ API is inappropriate due to poor internet connectivity, and downloading data is neccesary. WMS does not make this possible.

  • Possible mosaicing  – In general, when delivering output data as JPEG, mosaicing responses from multiple services together is hard or impossible.

  • The primary purpose for not making OAM host imagery products/access tools itself is to help eliminate bottlenecks in mission-critical services by allowing them to be replicated in the places they’re needed most.

The key to this approach is to make each step of the process as simple as possible; that way, there is very little that can’t be replicated or replaced easily, and there are no complex moving parts that require significant maintenance. The key parts of such an infrastructure are:

  • Imagery Index – a readily accessible way of finding information about imagery that is available and how to access it.
  • Storage – A distributed set of resources through which imagery can be made available for access by OAM tools.
  • Access Tools – Tools which use the Index and access data from Storage to build output that users of the OAM data will want. This includes everything from a WMS to a set of tiles that can be made available offline.

The imagery index is the core of the OpenAerialMap project. It acts as a clearinghouse for the OpenAerialMap imagery data. The core object in the imagery index is an License API. There are two types of images – an Archive image, and a Processed image.

  • Archive Image: This is designed to be metadata about a file which has not been processed for OAM, but which could be processed either by tools or by a human. This might mean that the imagery is only available in a compressed format, or is in an unusual projection. Generally speaking, this is the case for imagery provided over the web by most government agencies.
  • Processed Image: A processed image is an image which has been specifically created for OAM, or fits the needs of an OAM client well. For more details, plz visit OpenAerialMap Archive Image.

The concept behind the storage layer is:

  • Use simple, existing technologies
  • Search out friendly patrons in the short term, and investigate more complete solutions in the long term
  • Treat the URL/HTTP access as the primary way to find information, and don’t tie storage to any aspect of the catalog directly. For more, plz visit Storage

And the area of OAM that has the most room for experimentation is access tools, or other tools for building products out of the Imagery Index.

OAM was available at between November 2007 and December 2008. HOT were working to relaunch OpenAerialMap and have been award a Humanitarian Innovation Fund grant to DevelopmentSeed that has launched OAM Beta version

Currently OAM has imagery from the Nepal earthquake response, high resolution satellite imagery of Finland, agriculture imageryover Nebraska, and drone imagery from Vanuatu.

DevelopmentSeed team are welcoming to the user community for feedback on Twitter. Or open an issue or make a contribution on Github.

Challenges :

Definitely OAM is a great tool and stress remover for disaster data handlers arround the world but still it has to go a long way to develop the system more and make this great initiative it running. From my side OAM have to look in-
1. Image availability  for whole world

2. Image quality – Spatial resolution and contrast

3. Scale of the image

4. Temporal resolution of the image

I wish successful growth for this great initiative and thanks to  Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) to carry this forward.





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