I'm in São Paulo (in Brazil) at the moment, enjoying a sunny Christmas holiday ('#uksnow' WTF?) . I actually mapped it a little bit before back in 2007 last time I was on holiday here. Since then there's been some great progress made by the locals, on Saturday it was time to meet with those guys and do a São Paulo Mapping Party
I met Claudomiro at SOTM09 in Amsterdam (He gave a little presentation. The second speaker in the State of Brazil talk). Back then we agreed to organise some kind of meet-up here. Diogo is a big enthusiast. As well as mapping his area to the East, he has done yahoo sketching throughout the whole "Rodízio" area. This is a large area around the whole city centre which is a congestion control zone in which cars with certain number plates are banned on certain days of the week. We also had Michael along, who runs an internet cafe. Could be useful kind of person to know when it comes to finding venues for tech events. Finally I also brought along the ladies: My girlfriend, her friend and her sister.
It's early days for the mapping here, and it's a gigantic city, so even rapid yahoo sketching will seem like a massive amount of work. The familiar frustration was evident. To improve map coverage we need more people in São Paulo to get involved -> We need some good press coverage or more sites using the maps -> We need better coverage. It's a classic community-building chicken and egg problem, but we have the advantage that the coverage can only get better. I shared some experiences from London, where we have a larger mapping community, but certainly we haven't come up with all the answers to these problems yet.
São Paulo is more of a car-oriented city than London, so perhaps the growth in satnavs (and even better, smartphones users looking to use cheaper satnav style "apps") will cause more people to look at the project. I've been doing some photo mapping out of the car window while my girlfriend chaufeurs me around the city.
On Saturday though, we did some mapping on foot, getting some missing names of streets in the area to the North of Se (the historical centre of São Paulo) This is the place tourists are most interested in, so it will be good to fill in some more coverage here. The sun was beating down, although it was only Diogo who did some mapping before lunch. We met for lunch in the china-town area of Liberdade, and hit the streets after that. There were some streets we decided to avoid for safety reasons. I blatently look like a "gringo", so wondering around with devices on display is not a good idea in some areas. Luckily most of our cake slice was busy well-policed shopping streets.
It was great fun to have this little get-together, and the guys here were very welcoming and very keen. Although they said there is less of a culture of social geek meet-ups here, I'm optimistic that they'll manage to get a community going here. Hopefully we'll see more São Paulo events on the OSM calendar in 2010!