– By Melanie Eckle, HeiGIT
Since 2009 the GIScience Research Group at Heidelberg has been conducting cutting edge research and application and service development around the use and creation of OpenStreetMap data and open data in general. In this vein, they are collaborating with different stakeholders and organizations to create relevant, up-to-date and innovative research and applications to address current challenges. The use cases and collaborations range from routing, data quality analyses and economic development to humanitarian aid and disaster management. The Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT) of the GIScience Research Group was launched with the objective to facilitate better transfer of knowledge and technology from academia to practical applications and professional services. The focus hereby lies on the analysis, refinement, enrichment and usage of big spatial data from the crowd for innovative applications and services for the crowd. Sounds familiar? These objectives and this approach constitute Kathmandu Living Labs philosophy for several years already. HeiGIT/GIScience and Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL) share a common vision with respect to supporting the creation, analysis, visualization and effective use of OpenStreetMap data in diverse applications and will therefore now strengthen their existing collaboration through a formalization of their partnership.
For the last few years, HeiGIT/GIScience have been supporting KLL through mapathons, the KLL team in turn shared their experience with the university students and researchers in webinars as well as by hosting internships for Heidelberg students at KLL.
This previous collaboration enabled learning about each other’s work, interest, ideas and strengths. The recently signed Memorandum of Understanding synergizes HeiGIT/GIScience and KLL’s respective expertise and the institutions’ shared interests in contributing to disaster response, governance, and economic and sustainable development through creation, processing, and use of OpenStreetMap data to bridge the science-to-society gap. Closer collaboration of the groups will enable direct implementation of the latest research for current challenges in Nepal and beyond.
Melanie is a research assistant at HeiGIT (http://www.geog.uni-heidelberg.de/gis/eckle_en.html) and board member of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (https://www.hotosm.org/users/melanie_eckle). She supported KLL as an intern in 2013/2014 and recently visited the team to explore overlaps and discover collaborative opportunities between KLL and Heidelberg University.