Joint achievements

After two weeks of challenges and valuable experiences we are able to present the printed DIN A1 maps at the Refugee Welcome Center. We attach them visibly at this prominent and popular space, where they immediately attract the attention of residents and volunteers passing by. Especially the surroundings map causes a lot of interest and leads to discussions and inqueries. And of course, besides positive response we also get suggestions and critical remarks, which features and names are missing and what should be improved in the rendering.

Small format maps are distributed to the refugee council that will use them to manage the distribution of residents to shelters, and to Utopia56, the association that runs the camp and offered us kind support (and chairs!) during the time of our stay. The translation of the map content to Kurdish and Arabic has been done by our refugee team members. As soon as we have resources these multilanguage maps will be printed and made available to the camp residents.

To finalize and produce printed maps was one of our main deliverable in this project, and we can say we have met this goal, although there are still improvements and refinements needed. But there is now a basemap of the camp and its surroundings that can be built upon and used for various causes: orientation and finding directions  for new arrivals and volunteers, better contingency planning for associations and NGOs, communication and interaction within the camp community as fostered by the refugee council.

Equally important as the provision of accurate and useful camp maps was the training and interaction with the camp residents. We met persons with differing professional background and educational levels, some immediately understood the techniques and procedure of mapping and were able to edit and clean the data independently after a short while, while others preferred to simply go out with fieldpapers and a GPS to collect waypoints and traces. Some joined us only for a few hours, others came nearly everyday. But everyone showed curiosity, open-mindedness and ambition and was eager to transfer the knowledge about their living conditions to an offline and online available map. It was a joy to see their reaction to the many possibilities OpenStreetMap offers, it was hard for them to believe they actually could add to this worldwide database.

All map files and the bus guide are available for download as pdf and png  here

Final review and a Fieldtrip

Our last days were full of intense work, as we wanted to meet also the last goal set prior to the start of the project: digitization and rendering of the data collected on the ground to make it available to camp residents in printed format.  We started printing test maps on the weekend, and exhibited them at the Refugee Welcome Center to give as many people as possible a chance to review and provide feedback. Our trained mappers were by now involved in refining and detailed data editing in JOSM, learned more about tags and good practices in mapping. As usual, new mappers kept dropping in, which gave us the chance to head out once more and collect missing data with GPS. Nearly everyday a new feature pops up at the camp, be it shop, restaurant, bicycle repair, tipi or vegetable beds.

There was a huge demand from the residents to have a map of the camp surroundings (“how to go to…”) So we headed out for a fieldtrip to the nearby lake, the commercial center and busstops. We investigated potential ways to get to the camp, and identified safe routes and alternative directions to those commonly used. To complete this task we had to rely on the knowledge and experience of our refugee mappers who knew much more than us about the dynamics between the camp and the destinations outside.  We discussed and debated what to put on the map and finally agreed to limit the area displayed to the commercial center and a small number of bus stops nearby.

Now we faced the problem how to visualize the missing points of interest like ATMs, post office, Western Union and train station which are situated in the center of Dunkerque which would not be part of our surroundings map. A camp resident threw in the idea of a printed guide in A5 for handout, and use icons and simple Kurdish and English terms to give residents and new arrivals a better orientation and enable them to reach their destinations safely. Combined with the maps we would then have a complete set of points and areas of interest. He invested lots of time and energy in creating this visual guide, from design to translation to communication with the camp residents and associations.

Bus guide.jpg