OpenStreetMap

La Boquilla Project

Posted by Humberto_Yances on 16 April 2013 in English (English)

La Boquilla Project

Before start with a chronological description of the project, I desire to bring up antecedents of this inniciative, regarding use of OSM maps for mangrove conservancy, social inclusion and community strenght. Drived by the desire to generate Social Innovation based on Knowledge Management.


Special visit to Cartagena de Indias. April 2011, I was sat in one of the high stools positioned on the side of the walls of a historic spanish bulwark, with 180º degrees view of the Caribbean sea, talking about possibles uses of OSM maps and ICTs to create early alerts systems for recent colombian floods, intern conflict and strategies for economic development with Robert Soden (a former HOT board member). Soon after his depart, he introduce me to --a now commom friend-- Viviana Mourra, Executive Director of Ecoprogreso, a small local conservancy NGO focused in resolve enviromental issues at Ciénaga de La Virgen & Juan Polo, part of Tesca Wetland, an hidrological system surrounding La Boquilla village.


Participatory Mapping

Friday, march 23, 2012. With just one hour of daylight, time when the birds start returning to their nests to be observed, within a picturesque small canoe we were released by the impulse of the rower stick over the waters of the Ciénaga de Juan Polo. Saling into natural mangroves tunnels with particular names like Chagó --onomatopoeic from sound created by walking on shallow water--, "Love" or "Felicity", gived during the film of a TV serial novel in middle of 80's. Learning about local species and fishermans culture, in the meanwhile making first traces of sketch for "La Boquilla project". Canoe mapping (This picture was selected as OSM Image of the week) First activity in mind: a participatory mapping workshop with community to create a detailed map of the area, including deforested areas and ecotourism routes into mangroves, then reproject over the map georeferenced pictures, with the winners of near photo contest "Mangrove forest, unprotected treasure".

Saturday, june 9, 2012. After some meetings with community members and inviting Computer Software Engineering students of University of Cartagena, we start planning mapping activity.

List of participants

  • President of Community Conseil;
  • Director of Fisherman Association;
  • 4 members of different Ecotourism Assotiations;
  • 4 Computer Software Engineering students from University of Cartagena;
  • 2 members of Fundación Ecoprogreso;
  • and I as mapping consultant & HOT member.

Sunday, june 10, 2012. Early in the morning three teams part into canoes from ecotourism piers, each team is composed by:

  • 1 photographer (+GPS): with the rol of take pictures, mark GPS waypoints and tracks;
  • 1 chronist: who take detailed chronological notes about names and enviromental description;
  • 1 rower: tourist guide, related stories and local knowledge.

A map team

At noon, three ecotourism routes were documented and later shared using dropbox folders containing gpx files, pictures and chronics texts.

Saturday, june 23, 2012. Two weeks later a mapping worshop is held at Piedra de Bolívar camp of University of Cartagena. During workshop we use canoe gathered data and other data colected by walking papers and Bing imagery, starting with a short introduction about OSM and GIS technology to follow editing traces and tagging with JOSM.

JOSM Workshop

Friday, june 29, 2012. The final map was plottered and delivery to the community, a MapOSMatic instance was presented to Community Conceil board in Ecoprogreso office. I exposed about the map creation process and chat with them about map value for territory planning and development.

Community Conseil Board

A few months before, La Boquilla receive collective land titulation by Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER), the title was gived to Benjamín Luna, President of Community Conseil by Barack Obama, President of the United States, during OAS's Sixth Summit of the Americas (in the picture with Juan Manuel Santos, actual President of Colombia).

La Boquilla Land Titulation

This is one reason why a GIS becomes an important and value tool for this population.


In the middle of this mapping activity, looking for new collaborators, the colombian OSM community member Ariel Núñez, introduce me to Robin Tolochko, a geographer from University of Atlanta who works with Centro de Estudios Estratégicos Latinoamericanos (CEELAT), an independent think tank. This is an interview at Universidad de Cartagena conducted by CEELAT about this activity: Español English


Conservancy Promotion Map

La Boquilla problem resume. 200 years ago migrants families comming from San Onofre (Sucre) and Villanueva (Bolívar) settled in this area thanks to the support provided by fishing craft that typically defines the culture of this town. By 1980 modern constrution start, thanks to a new highway for light transport (like cars) between Cartagena de Indias and Barranquilla (other important city in the north coast of Colombia), this bring as a consecuence the lost of hundred hectares mangrove areas, that local people filled to construct new buildings. High income families from other part of the country start buying this buildings to transform it into recreation houses. More recent, national and international hotels chains are buying more buildings and filled areas to arise modern hotels with more than 400 rooms. With a high rate of population triggered by teen pregnancies, poor families forced to move more at north to new areas (Marlinda and Villa Gloria) between sea and Ciénaga de Juan Polo, building huts without water or electricity, deforesting more mangroves and suffering floods. Weak institutions, lack of law enforcement, and society’s permissiveness, that stems from ignorance of the value of the ecosystem. Few schools in the area, low education, sexual tourism, loss of cultural heritage and land conflict, give them low chances for a better human and economic development.

It is a complex situation, so we decide to start creating a tool for promote conservancy bewteen local actors, I mean, constructors and people from La Boquilla. With the collaboration of Robin Tolochko, using winner pictures of photo contest "Mangrove forest, unprotected treasure", this Mapbox interactive map was created.

Mapbox La Boquilla

Other map uses

  • World Environment Day: OSM maps were used during an observation rally with boyscouts pic.twitter.com/LkowJW7A. This activity result as winner of UNEP World Environment Day Challenge 2012 in the category: Best Delivers Effective and Substantive Impact. April 2012.
  • Conservancy Community Commitment Agreemment: In the middle of Ciénaga de Juan Polo representatives of local institutions signed on august 29 2012 a commitment agreement over OSM map
  • Conservancy Worshops: In company of University Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Ecoprogreso carry out conservancy workshops pic.twitter.com/zVEmHRV8 November 2012.
  • Security ecoturism routes: Ecotourism associations give to police printed OSM map to prevent robbery, during a shameful case involving residents of a neighboring village with international tourists. December 2012.
  • Cleaning activity: La Boquilla OSM map was used during planning, april 2013 pic.twitter.com/5YY4wamI77
  • CSR Hotel Capilla del Mar: Mapbox interactive map was published in a CSR website page of Hotel Capilla del Mar. April 2013.

Social Innnovation based on Knowledge Management

OK, we have a mapbox conservancy promotion tool, some map uses, but ¿how to deliver a tool that fit better to help solve the complex problem? So we create the concept project "Social Innovation for Mangrove Conservation". This mockup summarize the workflow to involve community in advocate activities, creating knowledge from data and information gathered and using it to resolve their enviromental problems.

Firts focus was on conservancy; but with same model we can open it to new edges, regarding social and economics areas, looking for a change of behaivor related with poverty, following a knowlegde flow process:

  1. Data gathering: OSM, common land titulation polygon, enviromental measures, etc.
  2. Visualization: GIS, Mapbox, stats and infographics.
  3. Sharing: Portals, SMS, social networks for citizens and stakeholders communication.
  4. Using: Communities of Practice, advocate networks, legal complaints, workshops within universities and for journalists.
Location: Carrera 7, MARLINDA, Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar, Colombia

Comment from Tom Chance on 17 April 2013 at 08:50

This is all really wonderful work, thank you for sharing.

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