Out and about in Yogyakarta, Indonesia: An OSM workshop sponsored by the World Bank

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My name is Katrina and I am a new addition to the HOT team in Indonesia. My first day of work started out with a morning plane from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, the historic and cultural kingdom of Indonesia. The reason why I call it a kingdom is because it is the only precinct in Indonesia that still contains a king. Unfortunately, Kate, Emir, Vau and I were too busy with the two day workshop to see the king's residences. Hopefully, we can sneak away next time we visit for an intermediate and advanced OSM workshop we will have more time... I would love to map those quarters.

The Participants

Sponsored by the World Bank, this workshop focused on teaching World Bank representations, RECOMPAK officials, and Universitas Gadjah Mada geo-engineering students and professors the basics of collecting and organizing data in OSM. A majority of the participants had backgrounds in GIS and therefore OSM and Quantum GIS were manageable tools for them to wrap their heads around. These geographers desired to learn how to collect mapping data in OSM for 101 villages in and around Mt. Merapi, Central Java. These areas are volcano and flood prone.

The organization that many participants were working with, RECOMPAK, is working to engage in community focused planning and construction. They desire to use OSM to update hazard maps. These hazard maps, which will contain impacted infrastructure, settlements and will provide details for creating better contingency and evacuation plans.

More information about the area and organization can be found at:


Figure 1. Some of the participants in the workshop are trying the map 101 villages, or provinces (which are found in dotted purple on the map) around Gulung Merapi, or Mt. Merapi, which is an active stratovolcano (View on openstreetmap.org)


Figure 2. The menacing Mt. Merapi. (CC-BY-SA-3.0 Merbabu on wikimedia commons)

Among the reasons they cited for wanting to use OSM were that it was free, accessible, synced up with InaSAFE (a hazard modeling plug-in). With the right data, this tool will help emergency managers know things like how many people will need to be evacuated and sheltered, which schools and roads will be closed, and/or which hospitals can still take patients.

Participants were quite excited for OSM and the potential it has for their community mapping projects. I look forward to seeing what they produce after a few months!

The Curriculum

The workshop covered the basics of collecting OSM data, through GPS and Walking Papers, and editing in JOSM (Java OpenStreetMap). Participants were required to upload a handleful of softwares so that the three programs we covered could run: FlashPlayer, Java and JOSM; Garmin USB Driver and GPS Babel; notebook for XML editing; QuantumGIS for post-analysis. GPS Babel is the preferred since it works on all operating systems and has an easy to use interface (http://www.gpsbabel.org/).

We also exposed participants to a website hosted by Geofabrik, a service used to download OSM data, and the Hot Export tool, which allows the user to specify what attributed they would like to download. For instance, the user can limit their data to a specific area or specific building attributes. The last topic we covered involved how to create customized presets. The default presets in JOSM are strangely organized and limiting, especially for specific projects. For example, in Indonesia there are many small gas stations that just provide fuel for motorcycles and not cars. Therefore, when a car-driver looks at the map and sees a generic fuel station symbol he may be surprised when he cannot fit next to the pump. Customized the presets also allows participants to translate them into Indonesian. This may make it easier for other Indonesians to categorize attributes in JOSM.

There were some unique requests from this workshop. For example, a few participants requested that Walking Papers have an option to print on larger pieces of paper. Unlike most workshop participants for the pilot project, these geographers have access to plotters and can print out large maps for community members to mark up.

A key tips I took away from the workshop is that you should probably always have someone really good with XML on your team so that you do not have to create customized presets. Rather that expert can deal with the headaches of XML scripts. Recruit well...

A MESSAGE TO THE READER: HOT currently only has five functioning GPS devices for these types of workshops; therefore, any donated GPS devices would be greatly appreciate for future workshops. Please contact info@hotosm for more information on donating.


Figure 3. Participants practice using Walking Papers. Later, they can scan this paper and trace the buildings and path they took. (Source: Emir Hartato 2012)

The Culture

I was quite impressed with the manners and graciousness of the participants. In comparison to some workshops I have participated in the US, these participants were mellow and quite laid-back. When someone had a problem or question they did not yell it out in front of everyone, but rather waited until one of us came around and asked if they were having any problems. We taught the workshop mainly in English and most seemed to follow along well, even if English was their third or fourth language.

This workshop gave me the opportunity to experience some Indonesian cuisine. For breakfasts, traditional tofu and soya products filled my plate, as well as some soursop, jackfruit and snake fruit chips.

Hopefully, I can recover from all the sugary ginger and tamarine candies the hotel provided us during the conference!

Until next time...

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