Crowdsourcing with Mapillary – How students of Pansio primary school used open data to create information for decision-making

As part of the Good Everyday Environment (Hyvä Arkiympäristö)-project, Gispo Oy was involved in hosting a Mapillary workshop for Pansio primary school. Gispo provided Mapillary training for the teachers of the school and suggested other uses for Mapillary, such as assessing the condition of bikeways in the winter.  The City of Turku wanted to review the school routes of the students and discover potential safety hazards and other issues along them.

"The City of Turku has a feedback system where the public can comment and express their wishes and concerns. This great service doesn’t reach every inhabitant, which is why other ways are needed to hear from people living in the city. This is why we carried out a part of the Good Everyday Environment-project with the students of Pansio primary school. In 2017, the project has been credited with the national Municipal Engineering Achievement award", Risto Anttonen from the City of Turku tells us.

Led by their teachers, the school’s students took photos of their routes from home to school using action cameras. They uploaded the images to Mapillary and added comments to the routes based on discussions they had in class.

An example of markings made by the students of Pansio primary school using Mapillary (image: City of Turku, Risto Anttonen)

“The routes and the comments were then sent to the Municipal Property Corporation Infrastructure Services and a solution was found for every issue. The Infrastructure Services addressed the issues within their remit by renewing asphalt, solving urban runoff water issues, repainting street markings etc. Other comments and proposals for development will be forwarded to the respective municipal administration entities”, Risto Anttonen says.

This way the entire city organization will be made aware of the comments made by the students. It’s also important to quickly finish the project and execute concrete actions in order to emphasize the value of their work to the students.

Teachers and students were excited by the new approach and the possibility to influence on public matters near them. Getting started required some briefing in using Mapillary and the action cameras, and affordable high-quality training will be needed in the future. Mapillary is a good tool when working with children and youths. The city of Turku will potentially utilize Mapillary in the future with winter cycling services.

What is Mapillary?

Street-level imagery is no doubt familiar to most from services such as Google StreetView. Mapillary provides a similar service, but anyone can collect the data.

With Mapillary, street-level data from the environment can be collected without heavy equipment or camera vehicles. This way, images can be captured from nature trails and bike paths. The crowdsourced data is collected using a smartphone or GPS-equipped action camera - all that's needed is some free memory and enjoyment of outdoors.

How we can help you

Mapillary is a worldwide service that stores captured street-level images uses them to form routes and virtual views. The images are open data and can be compressed and downloaded for personal use. Gispo Oy provides Mapillary training and workshops and we can assist in creating crowdsourcing opportunities. We can also help you get the most out of the service by planning how Mapillary can be used to suit your needs. Contact info@gispo.fi or call +358 40 725 2042 (Pekka Sarkola) for more information!

5 QUICK TIPS FOR USING MAPILLARY

  • The mobile app has a low learning curve and is an easy way to get started.
  • Using action cameras is a bit more challenging, but at the same time the image quality is improved. Invest in equipment if possible.
  • Professional-grade cameras can be expensive, but they can often be loaned. As an example, public libraries could loan digital cameras for users.
  • Host contests to get your target audience involved! Organise a commuter challenge and use Mapillary to document the routes, or host a “capture your home street”-event to motivate users to contribute.
  • Seasonal imagery can provide valuable information on e.g. the condition of cycle paths in the winter, but be prepared for cold conditions and early nightfall!