Today (1st July 2020) marks the first birthday of HeiGIT gGmbH! Over this first year, HeiGIT, the Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology at Heidelberg University has been involved a large number of events, projects, publications, and press coverage. Founded on the 1st July 2019, HeiGIT is a non-for-profit organisation receiving core-funding by the Klaus Tschira Stiftung, with an objective of improving knowledge and technology transfer from fundamental research in geoinformatics to practical applications.
Over the past year there have been a number of technological advancements made in the various open source tools and services that HeiGIT provides. These include for example the release of the public ohsome API (1.0), inclusion of super fast routing with restrictions in openrouteservice, a brand new version of the widely used MapSwipe app, or the Covid-19 Map of Hope in cooperation with the GIScience and medicine groups of Heidelberg University. During the current Corona outbreak, HeiGIT has worked closely with various humanitarian organisations to provide assistance where our services can make a large impact. Examples of these activities include for example analysing the healthcare access in Sub-Saharan Africa or increasing the quota of the openrouteservice optimize API for better logistics and fleet management for distribution of food and medicine.
The services offered by HeiGIT have also received attention from a number of prestigious organisations. Examples of these include the use of openrouteservice in flood assessment by NASA, the prize for MapSwipe as best humanitarian app at Mobile World Congress, or the publication of an article in Nature Neuroscience about the effects of urban greenspace on peoples’ wellbeing.
Working closely with our colleagues at the GIScience research group at Heidelberg University, several of our services have been implemented and extended in a research context. The MeinGrün, BKG and TARDUR projects all extended openrouteservice, with MeinGrün improving on the already existent healthy routing, the BKG project implementing really fast isochrones and TARDUR introduced time dependent routing functionality. The ohsome API has been used for OSM data extraction and data analysis in a number of projects together with the GIScience group including among others the Waterproofing, IDEAL-VGI, OSMlanduse, DEEP-VGI and HCE Klimahandeln projects.
It hasn’t just been the development and research that team members of HeiGIT have been highly involved in. In September 2019, the HeiGIT and GIScience team hosted the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team annual Summit (HOT Summit 2019) and the annual international gathering of the OSM community, the State of the Map 2019 conference. Both of these featured workshops and presentations predominantly relating to OpenStreetMap. With the State of the Map conference having about 600 attendees from all over the globe, and the HOT Summit having over 200 attendees from more than 40 different countries, they were the biggest State of the Map and Summit events to date.
Apart from this, there have been a couple of interesting partnerships and collaborations that have been further established throughout the first year. While HeiGIT, GIScience and the German Red Cross already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2018, last September was the starting date of a German Red Cross (GRC) project, which facilitates closer further collaboration. In addition to several joint presentations, workshops and project ideas, HeiGIT and GRC are currently working together in the “25 Mapathons” initiative supported by the Klaus Tschira Foundation to raise awareness about our work and the Missing Maps initiative in regional and youth associations of the German Red Cross all over Germany. In December 2019, an additional MoU was signed between HeiGIT, GIScience and healthsites.io with the objective of producing and completing new joint ideas, and to conduct joint activities related to research as well as development of GIS technologies, workflows and communities in relation to health contexts.
These are just some of the highlights from the first year of HeiGIT gGmbH, and here’s hoping to continued success for many more years to come! Some things to look out for in the not too distant future include a new mobile friendly web client for openrouteservice, and an extension of the MapSwipe app and of ohsomeHEX.
Finally, the team at HeiGIT would like to cordially thank the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg for their continued support in facilitating our vision of a better society and environment by improving open geoinformation and geoinformation technology.