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Open Mapping Guru Fellowship Journey

Posted by Aarogya Pandey on 9 June 2024 in English. Last updated on 10 June 2024.

Open Mapping Guru Fellowship Journey


Disasters, climate change, and various natural calamities profoundly impact the lives of humans, animals, and the environment. If we do not take action, the planet we call home becomes a place of fear and uncertainty. While we cannot prevent all natural occurrences, we can work towards a better future by addressing the mitigating factors that make Earth a more resilient place to live. Solutions come in many forms—distributing food, clothing, and financial support to those affected. One crucial method is through Open Mapping. Recently, the importance of Open Mapping has grown exponentially. From voluntary mappers to local government bodies, the significance and impact of Open Mapping are increasingly recognized. OpenStreetMap (OSM) serves as a platform for mapping purposes, while the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) leverages mapping for humanitarian causes. Since 2019, I have been an active mapper, experiencing the profound journey of becoming an Open Mapping Guru and participating in the Open Mapping Guru Fellowship Program. This journey has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of mapping, focusing on validation to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Fellowship Journey

Discovering Open Mapping

Five years ago, I embarked on my journey with Open Mapping, discovering its critical role in humanitarian efforts. The fellowship provided various tracks, and I chose the Validation Track, where I believe the most crucial and important details are checked and validated. Accurate mapping leads to more reliable results, which are essential for humanitarian purposes.

Learning and Using Validation Tools

Validation ensures that maps are accurate, free from errors such as overlapping buildings, crossing highways, and incorrect tagging. Several validation tools assist in this process, including JOSM, OSMCha, MapRoulette, OSM Inspector and Mapillary. These tools are not only effective but also enjoyable to use. For example, MapRoulette feels like playing a game rather than performing a tedious task. Engaging in changeset discussions was equally important, involving mappers in their valuable contributions and providing feedback for further improvement. The fellowship also introduced me to the intricacies of each tool. JOSM, a powerful desktop editor, allowed for in-depth editing and validation. OSMCha provided a way to review and analyze changesets, identifying potential issues that needed attention. Map Roulette turned validation into a gamified experience, making it engaging and less monotonous. OSM Inspector helped visualize various types of errors on the map, facilitating easier correction.

Professional Growth

Contributing to open mapping is prestigious work. The validation team focuses on data quality, offering feedback to mappers for improvement. This role has significantly boosted my confidence and professional growth. The five-month fellowship was a turning point in my life, providing invaluable experience and enhancing my skills in using validation tools. The structured training sessions and hands-on projects during the fellowship honed my analytical skills. Each validation task reinforced the importance of meticulous attention to detail, teaching me how to detect and correct even the smallest errors. These experiences not only improved my technical abilities but also developed my communication skills, as I regularly interacted with other mappers, providing constructive feedback and guidance.

Community and Collaboration

One of the most enriching aspects of the fellowship was the sense of community. I was part of a global network of passionate mappers, all working towards a common goal. This collaborative environment fostered a spirit of teamwork and mutual support. We shared insights, discussed challenges, and celebrated each other’s successes. Participating in community events and mapathons further strengthened this bond. These gatherings were opportunities to learn from experienced mappers, exchange ideas, and contribute to significant projects. The camaraderie and shared purpose made every contribution feel meaningful and impactful.


The fellowship covered various topics related to validation, with constant support and guidance from HOT members. I now feel more motivated and rejuvenated about contributing to OSM. The experience has made me proud of my efforts, knowing that my contributions to Open Mapping are important for humanitarian purposes. This journey has instilled a deep sense of responsibility and pride in my work. My efforts in validation have had tangible impacts on humanitarian projects. Accurate maps are crucial during disasters, providing essential information for rescue and relief operations. My contributions have helped improve the quality of data available to organizations responding to crises. Knowing that my work aids in real-world applications has been incredibly fulfilling. Moreover, the skills and knowledge I gained during the fellowship have been instrumental in my professional development. I have applied these competencies in my academic pursuits, enhancing my coursework and research projects. The fellowship has also opened doors to new opportunities, including collaborations with other mapping enthusiasts and professionals in the geospatial field.


This fellowship had a profound impact on all participants, whether in validation or other tracks. It would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of Mikko Tamura, Dinar Adiatma, Honey Grace Fombuena, and many others. Their motivation and support have been instrumental in my success. I extend my heartfelt thanks to Open Mapping Hub Asia-Pacific and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) for making this fellowship program a grand success. The mentorship and guidance provided by these individuals were invaluable. They shared their expertise generously, offering insights and feedback that significantly enhanced my learning experience. Their encouragement and recognition of our contributions kept us motivated throughout the fellowship.


The Open Mapping Guru Fellowship was a transformative experience, enhancing my skills and confidence in Open Mapping. It reaffirmed the importance of quality mapping for humanitarian purposes and left me more committed to contributing to OSM. This journey has been an invaluable part of my professional and personal growth, inspiring me to continue making a difference through mapping. Reflecting on this journey, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be part of such a meaningful initiative. The fellowship has not only equipped me with technical skills but also instilled a deeper appreciation for the power of collaborative efforts in addressing global challenges. I am excited to continue my contributions to Open Mapping, knowing that every edit and validation can make a difference in someone’s life.

This diary entry captures my journey, experiences, and the profound impact of the Open Mapping Guru Fellowship. It highlights the importance of quality mapping and the tools that ensure accuracy, emphasizing the significance of our contributions to humanitarian causes.
Location: Dhumbarahi Pipal Bot, Dhumbarahi, Kathmandu-04, Kathmandu, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Kathmandu, Bagmati Province, 00975, Nepal

There is always a milestone waiting for everyone, and one of them was meant for me. A voyage that taught me several tools that can be used for validation and some that would help with mapping. We also had a lot more sessions with aerial images, mobile data collection apps, and other things.

Pre-Journey of DQI:

It was a lovely sensation to be noticed and called for the intern interview. Ralph and Becky were there to guide us. I couldn’t believe it till the mail arrived informing me of my selection and subsequent processing. From a total of 1008 applications from 81 different countries, representing the country of highest peak was an incredible achievement that I could never have imagined. We had a kickoff for the internship after a week or two, and I had an amazing voyage of friendship, professionalism, passion, and future.

Journey of HOT_DQI_2022

The three months’ journey with fellows from different nations was quite interesting. A bit of their languages, their culture, tradition, their mapping career and other opinions were magical and all these were possible because of the ‘Coffee Chat Session’ we had together.

Week 1 and 2

The week included basic and advanced ID Editor and JOSM training with numerous plugins, which has actually helped me with quality mapping and a bit faster mapping. The most intriguing thing I learned was about OpenCycleMap, multipolygons, and tall building mapping. I’m still surprised at the mapping of the tall buildings. I had a hunch I was a mapper, but there were many holes in my knowledge, and now that I’ve started learning about mapping from the first week, I am feeling a bit confident about mapping. The most important session was with Samson who walked us with the effective session of Top 10 Data Quality Aspects. We were so much excited for the further weeks to come.

Week 3

We finally had an actual session for what we were supposed to be doing. We had now begun training on Validation tools and methodologies. For proper validation of the mapped tasks, an inline validation tool, building level labels, missing maps, map paint styles, and so on were employed. We had a fantastic Coordinate system session on the JOSM.

What could be better than getting to know the HOT team members and having a fantastic session with them? We also had a number of sessions with them. A very effective communication. Personally, I am grateful to them for meeting us and inspiring us to pursue future attempts in the field of mapping.

Week 4

This week was about the Quality Assurance tools OSM Inspector, Keep Right and OSMose. These tools were widely used as Quality Assurance tools. We interns were lucky enough to learn about all these tools. My personal opinion might bend towards working with OSM Inspector as it is quite easy to handle and handy in use.

Week 5

Meeting with the regional hubs for Eastern and Southern Africa, Western and Northern Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean was the main focus of this past week. The many hubs are actively involved in their projects for community development. All of the hubs were operating beautifully and had their principles followed. We were all interns, and we were having coffee discussions with teams while Becky also arranged for us to have coffee chats with DQI graduates and other HOT staff.

Week 6

This week was more about Disaster Ninja and OSMcha. Disaster Ninja uses data from the OSM for analysis purposes. The Disaster Ninja is a responsive online map that achieves the goal of our analysis and produces the best outcome. Regarding the OSMcha, it is a fantastic approach to learn about your own edits as well as those of others and get to know their work. the contribution they made, as well as the changes and deletions they made. You can acquire whatever you require from OSMcha.

Week 7

This week will always be useful, and this one is a continual learning experience. Yes, I’m referring to the QGIS program. We need to visually represent and visualize the data we produce. For this aim, we had a lesson on the fundamentals of QGIS, and the following week we gained deeper understanding of QGIS (Exports and layouts with QGIS). We interns had also participated in the discussion about the OSM Community Channels later that week.

Week 8

Having heard about the Mapillary but unknown about it was troublesome for me personally. However, I had the opportunity to learn about the Mapillary in Week 8 of the internship. The island of data is called Mapillary. It is a crowdsourced data source, and the key benefit we receive from Mapillary is the ability to filter the data in accordance with our preferences.

The hashtags, and the double hashtags, use of brackets and then another bracket for the link, well I am talking about the OSM diary. We had learned about writing the diary too and not to forget that THIS IS MY FIRST OSM DIARY. This journal is yet another product of the intern who helped me learn and shape who I am now.

Week 9

It was dedicated to Overpass, Umap, MapRoulette and Map paint. The Overpass and Umap are also connected in some way. The Overapass is used to filter and get the data, and Umap assists in visualizing the data in the map by being customized to meet our needs. These high-quality tools are highly helpful in the fields of data visualization, validation, and mapping.

Week 10

The Field data collecting tool and the Field data cleaning tool were the focus of this past week. We discovered the Openrefine and ODK tools during our tenth week of the internship. The open source mobile data gathering is known as the ODK. When online, the acquired data can be updated and delivered to the server even though it is now offline. One of the better tools for gathering data in the field is this. The Openrefine utility is particularly effective at cleaning up messed-up data and converting its format from one type to another. The Openrefine cleaning tool also allows for reversing and undoing. On further learning, we had an interesting session on RapiD.

Week 11

The internship’s final week had just passed. We held sessions on Third Pass Validation that week. Another important mass validation tool is third pass validation, which is probably utilized by those who get exhausted late at night. The third pass is a fantastic tool since it speeds up tile-to-tile confirmation. Although it is not for beginners, specialists can make considerable use of it. Using the third pass validation, projects, mapathons, and quality assurance can be evaluated. According to my personal space, the third pass is very helpful for mapping roads, rivers, and streams because the nodes need to be connected. When a large number of tiles are validated at once, the connections can be guaranteed because checking each tile individually does not verify the ending and joining of nodes. Additionally, the structures on the corners of the edge are double mapped or left, thus this may also be controlled by third pass validation. Also, Mapbox was also learned during the final week of the internship. We built the custom web maps using the Mapbox.


As I progress through the internship, from the first week to the last, I can clearly picture myself as a mapper who has learned a great deal about OSM-related technologies, however I like to believe that I still have a great deal of work to do. The changes that have occurred in me over the past three months are astounding. I balanced my college work, my internship, and my personal time. Those internship friends are amazing. We’ll never forget some of our Mentor Becky’s inspiring statements. Also, Arnalie had helped and motivated me during the internship. A heartful gratitude to her. Dinar who is really a great person has always helped me to complete the task that I have faced difficulties. Still, whenever I feel hesitated, I call out for him. Thanks to him for his lovely effort. No words could define Can, he is mentor of mine for lifetime and Geoffrey is the nicest guy who had helped me for my personal things as well. I admire all the HOT members for their selfless efforts.


Thank you HOT for providing such an immense platform for the mappers to evolve. I would also like to thank the key persons who have always been with us during the internship. This DQI journey was immense and was very valuable. Becky Candy, Ralph Aytoun, Arnalie Vicario, Can Unen, Geoffrey Kateregga, Dinar Adiatma. They deserve special recognition because they helped us develop throughout the entire internship. Attending such fantastic workshops would not have been feasible without them. A hearty thank you as well to all of my other interns. We all worked hard to get to this point, and I am grateful that we can all communicate well. HOT Data Quality Interns

Location: Plaza Area, Chabahil, Kathmandu-07, Kathmandu, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Kathmandu, Bagmati Province, Nepal