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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

Introduction

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.

Impact

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.

Acknowledgment

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.

Conclusion

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.
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