Palestine Open Maps mapathon: follow up and data usage experiments
This guest post is by Majd Al-Shihabi, he is a systems design engineer and urban planning graduate student at the American University of Beirut. He is the inaugural recipient of the Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship. You can find him on Twitter as @majdal.
Last Saturday, the British Library hosted a mapathon run by Palestine Open Maps team to vectorise the map content of 155 maps made at 1:20,000 scale by the British Mandate of Palestine.
Before the mapathon itself, I visited the maps collection at the Library, and after working with the maps for almost two years, I finally saw the original maps in physical form.
Iâ€™m at the @britishlibrary looking at the original maps that weâ€™re using in #PalOpenMaps. I got the 1:20k scale series out of the archive, and they are even more beautiful in physical form than as images. Saturdayâ€™s mapathon will be special! pic.twitter.com/od1xL6YjMjâ€” Majd Al-shihabi (@majdal) June 6, 2019
About 35 mappers participated in the mapathon, and they vectorised content covering most of historic Palestine. The flashing features in the animation below are the ones created through the mapathon.
They include hundreds of features, including cisterns, schools, police stations, places of worship, parts of the road network, residential areas, and more.
Some of the features, such as towns, had Wikipedia articles and Wikidata items, which we linked to the map data as well.
The data is already being used by other projects. For example, Ahmad Barclay, a partner in the Palestine Open Maps project, has collaborated with the Palestinian Oral History Archive, to map all landmarks mentioned in testimonies by Palestinians recounting life in Palestine before the 1948 Nakba. The result is a map that serves as a spatial way of navigating oral history. View the map here.