Citizen Science, Open Data, and Public Good: Dr. Lagmay’s Keynote Speech at Pista ng Mapa 2023

Dr. Lagmay’s keynote speech at Pista ng Mapa 2023 was a compelling exploration of the transformative power of citizen science and open data in shaping more inclusive and resilient communities. Pista ng Mapa is the pioneer and premier free (as to cost and as in freedom) and open conference in the Philippines made for and by people who have a passion for open mapping, open data, and open source. It is an outreach activity to generate public interest, advocate and advance the use of open (geo) data, promote free and open source software for geospatial (FOSS4G), and support local open mapping communities around the Philippines.

One of the notable initiatives discussed was the Taal Volcano tephra fall deposits from crowdsourced information and field data, where collective intelligence played a crucial role in understanding the volcanic processes around Taal Volcano (Read: This groundbreaking effort brought together citizens, researchers, and technology to create a comprehensive map of affected areas, with the corresponding thickness of the tephra fall deposits during the 2020 eruption. The real-time data collection not only facilitated rapid response efforts but also empowered local communities to build resilience.

Another significant highlight was the integration of OpenStreetMap (OSM) data into the National Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) website, through the collaboration among different OSM communities, including the local YouthMappers chapters. Dr. Lagmay emphasized how this collaboration enhances the accuracy and accessibility of critical information for disaster risk reduction. By combining the open data from OSM with NOAH’s sophisticated tools, decision-makers and the public alike gain a more comprehensive understanding of their exposure to hazards, contributing to more effective preparedness and response strategies.

The keynote also delved into advancements in earthquake shake table technology and crowdsourcing initiatives. Shake table is a device capable of simulating actual earthquake ground motion using Arduino technology, which is being co-developed with Anthony Guiller Urbano and Eligio Caluya Obille Jr. of the National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP-NISMED). Dr. Lagmay underscored the importance of these developments in seismic research and preparedness. Engaging the public in data collection and analysis fosters a culture of preparedness and resilience, contributing to a more nuanced understanding of earthquake patterns.

Dr. Lagmay’s keynote at Pista ng Mapa 2023 showcased the importance of citizen science, open data, and community empowerment. The discussed initiatives, from Taal Volcano Crowdsourcing to the integration of OSM data into the NOAH website and advancements in earthquake shake table technology, exemplify the potential of collaborative efforts in the geospatial technology landscape. These endeavors not only contribute to more effective disaster response but also empower individuals and communities to actively participate in building a safer and more resilient future.