CDDL and UrbanAfrica Host Addis Ababa Transit Mapathon

12/02/19
The Civic Data Design Lab and UrbanAfrica @ MIT partnered to host an OpenStreetMap (OSM) transit data Mapathon over the Veterans’ Day holiday. Students and other members of the MIT community convened in the MIT Dept. of Urban Studies City Arena to collaboratively upload geospatial data on mass transit stops in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, onto OpenStreetMap—a crowdsourced global map database which has become one of the world’s most widely-used geographic services. These data on Addis Ababa’s transit services were provided courtesy of AddisMap, who also extensively assisted with technical guidance leading up to the event.

The AddisMap data was supplied in the form of a GTFS feed, then translated into spreadsheet format and annotated by CDDL assistants for use by Mapathon participants. CDDL assistant Sofia Gulaid (MCP 2021) led participants in creating OSM accounts and learning the OSM user interface. Subsequently, participants set out individually assessing Addis transit stops for data accuracy and applying necessary updates.

Once this procedure was underway, CDDL faculty member Yuan Lai piloted an effort to develop a workflow on data acquisition from the OSM API and data processing in a Python programming environment.

Availability of the updated transit stop data on OSM will enable trip planning as well as transportation and accessibility network analysis through the use of OSM-affiliated applications.

In the words of Samra Lakew (MCP 2020), representing UrbanAfrica at the Mapathon:

"African cities are doing more with less. They are growing faster, growing bigger, and digitizing rapidly faster than anywhere else and city governments are managing that growth with a fraction of the resources and revenue available to their western counterparts. Given the reality of data availability and resource limitations, we know that fluency with crowdsourced platforms and open-source data analysis tools will be an essential skillset for practitioners working on the Continent. We are so happy to have partnered with CDDL on this event and hope to collaborate on future events!"

CDDL research assistant Sofia Gulaid leads an opening tutorial of the OSM online editor user interface.
CDDL research assistant Sofia Gulaid leads an opening tutorial of the OSM online editor user interface.

Addis Mapathon student attendees gathered at MIT with their laptops to help crowdsource the Addis transit data upload effort.
Addis Mapathon student attendees gathered at MIT with their laptops to help crowdsource the Addis transit data upload effort.