Over christmas (it’s March, the perfect time to post your new year’s post! Happy new year, BTW!) I finally sat down and re-made www.openstreetmap.pl, the site about OpenStreetMap in Polish, similar to what you can find at the other openstreetmap sites under country-level domains. It’s nothing spectacular but the remake was long overdue. While at it I also launched a blog where any high-level news or propaganda about freeing geospatial information and about OpenStreetMap itself, relevant to Poland (or not), can be posted in Polish. I think there was a need for a place like this even though there isn’t a whole lot to post there yet and not a whole lot of interest either (yet). The openstreetmap diaries at the main site collect all kind of small and big news and user comments, so I missed a place that’s like the OpenGeoData blog in English. If you have anything relevant to share, you can post it on blog.openstreetmap.pl now.
Second new (to me) thing in the last months was the internet’s reaction to the disaster that was the Haiti earthquake January 12. It caused a great range of destruction and chaos and when the humanitarian relief teams rushed there it became apparent that lots of IT resources available for other places were not available for that area. This is where people all over internet tried to help and their reaction was somethign I had never seen before, a whole new experience. The leading by CrisisCommons and the crisis camps organised as soon as January 15 where people met to code new needed services, give ideas or just collect data. On one day we saw more than 20 people from different crisis camps around the world joining the OpenStreetMap IRC channel asking if there was anything urgent for them to work on right now, and everyone planning how to best use their time resources. Needless to say the advancement in terms of data quality the Port-au-Prince area was huge, much bigger than in the case of the Gaza strip initiative a year ago and than perhaps any other moment in OSM history. Other very cool projects like this also sprung up really quickly. A very interesting experience alltogether, one that also exposed the OSM project in a new use case / situation. OSM proved extra valuable in it and this is always a gain for the project at the same time, now that it became part of the official FEMA resources, International Red Cross’s as well as US navy’s and got some more mainstream media attention than usually. Now the newly created HOT or Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team is gearing up for helping Chile overcome the damages resulting from the recent quake and is already providing accurate maps of the flooded Albanian regions.