Mapper since: August 03, 2012 | Contributor terms: Accepted almost 4 years ago
I've always loved maps. The big, foldout maps that came with my subscription to National Geographic were among my most treasured possessions as a kid. I started to make my own maps as a graduate student after I took a couple of courses in GIS. During my thesis research in rural North Carolina I came to realize that the mapping tools I had learned in school really weren't an answer for the mapping needs of the communities that I was working in. The software was expensive, the hardware required to run it was expensive, and it required technical expertise wasn't widespread. The web-based commercial options like Google Maps, weren’t adequate either. The imagery was out-of-date and of poor quality and on the off chance you could find good imagery of your location, it was insanely expensive to license.
In trying to find some solution for bridging the gap between the mapping needs of rural communities, particularly those engaged in social and environmental justice disputes, and the available mapping tools, I got involved with Public Lab. I’ve been participating in that community and using their balloon mapping technique for the past two years. It was Public Lab that in turn introduced me to OpenStreetMap.
I was fortunate enough to have spent the past year living in the Baltimore/DC area where there is a tremendously vibrant and involved OpenStreetMap community. I got to participate in the Spring Editathon at MapBox’s offices and attend the near-legendary monthly GeoDC meetups. It was a really exciting introduction to the OpenStreetMap community. This summer I moved to Lexington, Kentucky where I’m now a PhD student in the University of Kentucky’s Geography Department. I’m starting to understand just how spoiled I was in DC. Lexington doesn’t have quite the cohesive OSM community that the Baltimore/DC area has. So, I’m working on improving that. I organized Lexington’s 1st OSM Editathon this summer and there’ll be another one this October. I’ve been encouraging the students in the Digital Mapping course I’m a teaching assistant for to participate in OSM. My fellow TAs and I are even planning a couple of introductory lessons on OSM for the entire 200 person Digital Mapping course during the week leading up to the fall editathon in the hopes of getting students interested in joining the OSM community. I’ve also been stepping up my own participation in OSM. I even ran for the OSM-US board!
The quickest way to contact me is Twitter: @jessibreen
Or you can send me an email: email@example.com