Recent diary entries
OpenStreetMap Community Playbook by ChatGPTPosted by Kateregga1 on 27 March 2023 in English (English).
I asked ChatGPT to create an OpenStreetMap Community Building Playbook, this is what it came up with
OpenStreetMap (OSM) is an open-source project that relies on the contributions of volunteers to create and maintain a free and editable map of the world. To build a strong OSM community, it is important to create a framework that promotes engagement, inclusivity, and collaboration. This playbook outlines key strategies for community building that can help OSM communities thrive.
Define your community’s vision:
The first step to building a strong OSM community is to define your community’s vision. What is your community’s mission? What are your goals and objectives? What values do you want to promote? Clarifying these key elements of your community’s identity will help you attract like-minded individuals and organizations.
Identify your community’s strengths and weaknesses:
To build a strong community, you need to understand your community’s strengths and weaknesses. What are your community’s assets? What skills, knowledge, and resources do your members bring to the table? What are your community’s weaknesses, and what are the areas where you need to improve? Identifying these factors can help you develop a plan to build on your strengths and address your weaknesses.
Establish clear roles and responsibilities:
To ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals, it is important to establish clear roles and responsibilities for community members. This can include defining the roles of community leaders, project managers, and volunteers. Clarifying these roles and responsibilities can help prevent confusion and promote accountability.
Foster communication and collaboration:
Effective communication and collaboration are critical to building a strong OSM community. Set up communication channels, such as mailing lists, forums, and chat groups, where community members can share ideas, ask questions, and collaborate on mapping projects. Use tools like GitHub to manage code and project documentation, and organize regular meetings or virtual hangouts to facilitate face-to-face interactions.
Promote inclusivity and diversity:
Inclusivity and diversity are essential to building a strong OSM community that reflects the diversity of the world we live in. Take steps to ensure that your community is inclusive and welcoming to everyone, regardless of their background, experience, or identity. This can include creating safe spaces, establishing codes of conduct, and providing training on issues such as unconscious bias.
Encourage learning and skill-sharing:
OSM is a constantly evolving project, and there is always something new to learn. Encourage learning and skill-sharing within your community by organizing training sessions, workshops, and webinars. You can also set up mentoring or buddy systems to help new members learn the ropes, and create opportunities for experienced mappers to share their knowledge and skills.
Recognize and celebrate achievements:
Recognizing and celebrating achievements is an important part of building a strong OSM community. Celebrate milestones such as completing a major mapping project, hitting membership targets, or contributing to global mapping events. Recognize individual contributions, such as the completion of a challenging mapping task or the development of a new tool or application.
Building a strong OSM community requires a combination of vision, strategy, and hard work. By defining your community’s vision, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, establishing clear roles and responsibilities, fostering communication and collaboration, promoting inclusivity and diversity, encouraging learning and skill-sharing, and recognizing and celebrating achievements, you can build a community that is engaged, inclusive, and committed to the ongoing development of OSM.
What do you think is missing, share in the comment section
A hybrid conference set up for State of the Map Tanzania 2023, lessons learnedPosted by Kateregga1 on 6 March 2023 in English (English).
During the COVID-19 outbreak, online conferences became more popular as that was the only way for conferences to happen, State of the Map Africa 2021 happened online as well, which made the conference more accessible to people than before, a record 597 participants joined through Hopin the conference platform which had features that allowed participants to actively engage and interact.
Post COVID-19, there is now interest in organizing hybrid events instead of going back to completely offline conferences, to take advantage of the benefits that come with an online event that makes a conference more accessible. During the State of the Map Tanzania 2023 conference we tried out the hybrid set up, with a view that it would also help us prepare for State of the Map Africa 2023, in Yaounde Cameroon, which is going to be a hybrid event. Below I share lessons learned that may be helpful for other conference organizers in setting up a hybrid event
To set up a hybrid conference, you need at least five basic things
- A conference platform for online and offline participants to engage and interact. The conference platform should have an option for embedding livestreams from YouTube or directly from a streaming software. The platform should also have chat, Q&A, polls, reply and comment features. Options for speed networking, booths for sponsors, etc. There are hundreds of conference platforms out there, below are some that have been used at State of the Map and related Conferences;
- Venueless - used at State of the Map 2021 and State of the Map 2022
- Hopin - used at the HOT Summit 2021 and State of the Map Africa 2021
- Livefi - used at State of the Map Tanzania 2023
- Airmeet - used at Wiki Indaba 2021
A sound system that can capture speaker audio from the microphones and feed it into a mixer or streaming software.
A video camera to capture the speaker. A low-cost option would be to use good smartphones to capture the videos, but if you have budget you can hire professional videographers that can capture high quality videos from different angles.
A computer with access to the speaker slides or presentations. Capturing the slides on video does not provide good quality, instead pull in the slides from a computer. For the best quality in terms of transitioning, connect the speaker computer to your streaming software, so that the slides on the online stream transition at the same time as those of the speaker.
Livestreaming software that can capture and mix video, audio and slides. Options to use here are OBS Studio + Video Ninja (For remotely connecting slides computer and online speakers) or else Streamyard.
For State of the Map Tanzania 2023, we did not have a big budget for the hybrid set up, and we were looking out for a simple solution. The conference platform used was LiveFi which allows you to embed a live stream from YouTube for the participants to follow. So we looked at options to stream the live sessions to YouTube. We had two streaming software options, plan A was to use OSB Studio + Video Ninja and Plan B was to use Streamyard.
Option 1 - OBS Studio + Video Ninja
For this option we used OBS studio a Free and open source software for video recording and live streaming to stream to YouTube, and then used Video Ninja a free web service that allows you to bring in the speakers video as well as the slides directly into OBS Studio from remote devices. We used this option on day one of the conference, but we had to change to plan B, the internet which kept on dropping made the streams from Video Ninja drop in and out which made it challenging. Also the video quality was that streaming was really low because of the slow internet.
Option 2 - Streamyard
Streamyard is a web-based streaming and recording studio, that allows you to multistream directly to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. In addition to that Streamyard also has built-in commenting for engaging audiences, with features where you can customize the logo, colours and overlays. And you can upload slides, images and videos to your live stream. It also offers a backstage that makes it easier for speakers to join the event without downloading any software. It has the same features as OBS studio but in a web-based environment.
Streamyard has a free plan, but for more options that would allow at least three multistream options and up to 10 on-screen participants, the basic plan for 20$ per month is affordable for a one-off conference event. We used Streamyard to bring in remote presenters and also to record the video and share the slides of the in-person event presenters.
We did test runs before the conference, where both options seemed to work, however, during the conference we faced some unforeseen challenges that as elaborated on below.
Both OBS Studion and Streamyard require a good strong dedicated internet connection for live-streaming. During State of the Map Tanzania 2023 we had two options for internet, the conference venue WiFi and Mobile Phone hotspots for backup, however, both options failed to provide a consistent connection for the best experience for online participants, whenever the connection would drop, the online stream would be cut off. Advice - have a dedicated high-speed internet that is not shared with other conference participants.
At State of the Map Tanzania 2023, there was a sound system in the conference room, however, we were not able to directly capture the sound from the mixer, as the service provider did not have a cable which could do that. We were left to capture audio directly from the speakers in the room, which always brought an echo and made the audio quality poor for the online participants. The advice here is to always hire a sound system service provider who can provide a clear sound output from the sound mixer to your computer and go into OBS Studio or Streamyard.
At State of the Map Tanzania 2023 we used a Google Pixel 7 Pro smartphone with a tripod stand to capture the video from the speakers. This worked out well, but the limitation was that it was not possible to zoom in on the speaker, while connected to either Streamyard or Video Ninja. A good DSLR camera would have provided better options for zooming in and different angles. And when streaming, the video quality really dropped because of the poor internet. Advice, get at least 2 DSLR cameras, one to focus on the speaker, and the other on the audience in case there are questions from the audience. If there are budget hire professional videographers. Then connect the video output to the OBS studio or steamyard.
At State of the Map Tanzania, we collected all the slides from the speakers in advance, which made it easier to have them on the main laptop that was used for presentations, we connected the slides to OBS Studio using OBS Ninja and to Streamyard as a participant, this made it easier to share slides on the live stream. Tip - make sure to collect all the slides from the speakers beforehand, and use the same laptop for all presentations, except for workshops where the speaker may want to use their own computers.
At State of the Map Tanzania 2023, the plan was initially to only livestream only speakers in the main conference room who were all expected to be there physically, however, some speakers were not able to travel and we had to bring them in remotely, for this we used streamyard which is easily set up for speakers, they were just provided with a link to join backstage 15 minutes before their talk. The challenging bit was to get their audio broadcasted for the offline participants.
Although the priority is to livestream, make sure you record the video and audio offline on your computer for backup in case the livestream goes down. The offline recording is better quality as it is not affected by the slow internet, this allows you to publish a better quality video in case the live one does not come out clearly. This option is available in OBS studio. Streamyard on the other hand provides you with an online backup of the video which is still better quality than the live stream.
For the best experience for a hybrid conference, make sure you plan in advance, and do a test run in different scenarios to try out everything. Do check out the different conference platforms and make a comparison in terms of features and pricing to make sure you get the best that will work best with your livestreaming solution. Do several test runs to check the quality of audio, video, and slides. Have a contingency plan, in scenarios where something that is unexpected happens, it may be the internet or power going off for example. As you do the live stream always have an offline backup.
What is your experience setting up a hybrid conference using, what works and what doesn’t? Share in the comment section.
See you at State of the Map Africa 2023!
Lessons Learned from the Wikimedia Summit 2022Posted by Kateregga1 on 6 October 2022 in English (English).
On September 9-11, 2022, I attended the Wikimedia Summit 2022 in Berlin, Germany as a representative of the Wikimedia Community User Group in Uganda. As someone who belongs to several communities, I was interested in learning from the Wikimedia community lessons that could be replicated by the OpenStreetMap community.
The Wikimedia Summit is the annual conference that brings together Affiliates of the Wikimedia Foundation. The program was designed around the implementation of Wikimedia Foundation’s 2030 Movement Strategy initiatives, and provided a space for connecting, celebrating, learning and planning for the future of the Wikimedia movement.
Photo by Jason Krüger CC BY-SA 4.0, from Wikimedia Commons
It was interesting to compare it to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap’s unSummit events this year, which is spreading the HOT Summit across the globe in collaboration with different events in different regions of the world. The Wikimedia Summit this year was a hybrid event, with both online and in-person participants. The organizers did a very good job of making sure the online participants can actively participate in the discussions at the conference. There was very good equipment in each of the 8 breakout rooms with cameras, speakers and microphones to make this happen in real time.
2030 Movement Strategy
Since 2017 the Wikimedia movement has been working towards their 2030 Movement Strategy.
People from across our Wikimedia movement came together in an open and participatory process to discuss a strategy to work toward 2030. The result was a set of recommendations and underlying principles that propose structural and systemic changes that will enable them to create the future of the Movement.
The strategy outlines how the movement can grow sustainably and inclusively. They suggest how the community can strive for knowledge equity and knowledge as a service, so that everyone – those already within the Movement and anyone who wishes to join it – can play a role in capturing, sharing, and enabling access to free knowledge.
The ten recommendations are:
The whole program of this year’s Wikimedia Summit was around sharing updates towards the implementation of the recommendations, mainly focusing on three main topics, Movement Charter, Regional and Thematic Hubs, and then Revenues and Resources.
Below are my main three takeaways from the conference that I think would be good for the OpenStreetMap and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap communities to learn from.
Let’s Connect - Peer Learning Program
The Let’s Connect program was designed to develop capacity-building opportunities within the Wikimedia Movement through peer knowledge sharing in multiple flexible and interactive spaces that allows for personal connections, solidarity, and a sense of community for Wikimedians in all regions of the world, seeking to share their knowledge and learn from others.
The program is composed of two main learning spaces, Learning Clinics for monthly live connections between groups of around 20 participants, collectively defined around topics of interest, case studies and Wikimedia funding cycles. One-on-one matches between community members to share during live virtual conversation (coffee/teas), opening the door for further resource sharing and mentoring. These happen on a continuous basis with connections being made directly by participants and proposed by the Let’s Connect working group.
And there are three support elements so that these spaces can work. Skills Directory: a general database that identifies skills and sharing interests amongst community members that forms the basis for the “matching”. Resource centre: a very basic space on Meta for sharing any material associated with the learning spaces – video recording, guidelines, documents, references, decks. Connections: informing and connecting participants to existing spaces within the Movement. These spaces vary in each region and around different topics or programs, such as communities of practices, periodic meetings, training, events, etc. One important source of information and connection is the Movement’s community calendar.
I think as the Open Mapping Communities, we need something similar to facilitate knowledge sharing and peer learning across the movement. We need to match skills with needs, and do matchmaking and facilitate learning across communities. The solutions to the challenges the communities face already exist, and what we need to do is to connect the dots, by documenting where they are and who needs them and making that connection.
Movement Strategy - Connecting the Dots
One of the strategy recommendations is to Manage Internal Knowledge by making the internal knowledge of the Movement easy to capture, discover, consume, and adapt by all contributors to facilitate sustainability and resilience, individual and organizational skill development, and growth in an equitable way across all communities.
Because the movement strategy implementation is generating lots of projects and initiatives, it’s important to document all the activities and projects, who is working on the Movement Strategy, what parts of it, where, with whom, so that all different stakeholders across the movement can learn about each other’s work and connect with each other to collaborate on current and future projects.
To do this, the Wikimedia Foundation is using Baserow, an open source no-code database tool similar to Airtable to document the Movement Strategy Implementation projects https://baserow.io/public/grid/1QInEGZMJHSaMOHxPEPVo5DOr8woCxS1PbV0P1wE090
During the Wikimedia Summit, participants were asked to fill in their initiatives and projects using a form and within a few minutes the database was populated with over 150 projects and it was easier to connect the dots on which projects are happening in which region around which recommendations.
The database allows you to search, sort and filter and provide very useful insights into the Movement Strategy Activities.
In Open Mapping is a similar context. There are hundreds of projects that have been done within the OpenStreetMap community, and many are documented on the Wiki, but its hard to filter search or sort. It takes a lot of effort to find what you are looking for, if you are lucky enough to find it. That is why I think we need something like Baserow or Airtable to solve this problem.
Regional and Thematic Hubs
One of the initiatives of Wikimedia’s 2030 Movement Strategy Recommendations focuses on regional and thematic hubs. The idea of hubs responds to the desire to share power, moving more decision making closer to the communities, which can lead to greater efficiency.
The roles and responsibilities of the hubs is being defined the in the Movement Charter which is being drafted at the moment, and there are also several hub projects undergoing research, discussion and planning. The hubs which may be regional (for example, West African hub, European Hub, etc) are expected to emerge by identifying and advocating for the needs of the communities they serve. Possible roles may include legal support, resource allocation (grant making), capacity building, inter-group coordination, technology development, mentorship, evaluation services and more.
The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team recently launched regional hubs, with 3 of them already operational and one of them in the pipeline. It would be interesting to see the results of the ongoing research and how the hubs shape themselves compared to HOT’s Open Mapping Hubs, and what the Wikimedia Movement’s charter would look like in regards to the governance of the hubs, because that will be key to make sure there is a transfer of power to the communities.
In conclusion, the Wikimedia Movement has a different structure from that of OpenStreetMap and they have more access to central resources and funding, but the communities also have a lot in common in terms of the challenges they face and can learn from each other on the approaches used to meet those challenges.
Localizing Community Support through regional hubsPosted by Kateregga1 on 23 December 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 31 December 2020.
This year, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) community received funding from The Audacious Project. Over the next five years, this funding will enable us to scale up its support for local mapping communities with the aim of mapping an area home to one billion people, adding places at high risk of natural disaster or experiencing poverty.
Over five years, HOT plan to:
- Set up a network of regional hubs in South Asia, East Africa, West Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean, which will engage with local mapping communities, facilitate knowledge exchanges, distribute funding, and provide training and support in order to massively scale local edits to OpenStreetMap in 94 countries
- Invest in technologies that enhance mapping contributions on mobile to enable scaling of local contributions to OpenStreetMap
- Invest in map data quality and ethical collection and use of map data
- Work with humanitarian organizations, governments, and other actors to help them use OpenStreetMap to deliver more effective and efficient aid
- Work more closely with the OSM community/OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF), supporting the community and core systems and software
The East Africa Hub, where I will be working as the Community Manager will be located in Nairobi, Kenya, will work with OSM communities in 21 countries, in Northern, East and Southern Africa. As the new Community Manager in the E Africa hub, part of my job is to look at the status of OSM communities in these countries, to help us plan our engagement with them.
Existing OSM communities per country
These include local OSM Communities such as YouthMappers Chapters and organizations that promote and use OSM in their activities. These groups are essential in the development of OSM; they organize meetups and trainings, and encourage the use of OSM data through collaboration and engagement with government and other stakeholders. Most importantly, they contribute to OSM by adding detailed information and filling in data gaps with local knowledge and ground-truthing, as well as reaching out to and collaborating with the communities being mapped.
Since 2017, HOT has been supporting OSM communities with microgrants up to $7500 to run projects. Out of the 21 countries to be served by the East Africa hub, 13 have applied for microgrants, and 7 of those have received the microgrants. Through Audacious, HOT will be able to support the communities in all the 21 countries in the next 5 years.
HOT voting members are people in the humanitarian OpenStreetMap community who have shown a commitment to the HOT mission, they are responsible for voting on matters affecting the organization including, but not limited to, the election of the board members. Currently, there are 15 voting members from 7 of the 21 countries that will be served by the East Africa hub. We aim to increase voting membership from African countries to have a more diverse and inclusive humanitarian OSM community.
The level of detail in mapping differs from country to country. Looking at the number of mapped buildings in relation to the population, we see eSwatini, Lesotho as the most mapped countries, followed by Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia. Most of this mapping is done remotely though, and we need to measure the level of local edits needed to scale up local contributions in OSM.
Based on these different criteria we approximate the capacity in the different countries into 3 categories: high, medium and low - which can help us determine the amount of support that will be needed and also track progress as we engage the OSM communities in these countries.
We would like to improve the methodology of assessing local communities and local mapping, and we welcome feedback and suggestions on how we could do this. Most importantly, I would love to hear from the communities in the countries we will be working with.
The State of OpenStreetMap in AfricaPosted by Kateregga1 on 11 August 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 7 September 2020.
Ahead of the State of the Map 2020 conference, which was supposed to take in place in Africa for the first time, but was held online due to COVID-19, OSM Africa surveyed OpenStreetMap community leaders in different countries in Africa, to assess the state of OpenStreetMap in their countries. We heard back from 52 out of the 55 countries in Africa and the results were presented at the conference.
OSM Africa is a network of OpenStreetMap communities from all over Africa working together to grow OpenStreetMap on the continent.
The brightest spots on the map below illustrate substantial amounts of OpenStreetMap node density in different places in Africa.
This visualization shows the total number of mapped buildings per year in each country from 2007 to 2020. Which also shows the history and journey of OpenStreetMap editing in Africa.
By June 2020, there was a total of 57,766,001 mapped buildings in Africa, with Tanzania leading at 11 million, thanks to the work done there by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), the World Bank through Ramani Huria and Crowd2Map Tanzania.
We also looked at the population in comparison to the number of mapped objects, to measure map completeness in each country, which shows Eswatini, Lesotho, Seychelles, Botswana and Zimbabwe as the most mapped countries. Map Lesotho is an interesting case where the Government is leading in the use of OpenStreetMap for rural and urban planning.
Existence of active OSM Communities
Sixty-five percent of the countries that participated in the survey indicated there is an OpenStreetMap community in their country, although the levels of activity differ from country to country, from very active to inactive. It is also interesting to note some countries like Egypt and Morocco where there is active mapping but no single community.
For the countries where there are existing OSM communities, we look at some of the factors behind their existence that were pointed out in the survey.
YouthMappers in Africa
One of the reasons for the growth of OSM communities in Africa is the rise of YouthMappers. Although it started its African presence with the founding of the University of Cape Coast chapter in Ghana in 2016, there are now 105 YouthMappers chapters in universities across Africa, which is 50% of the total number globally. Nigeria and Tanzania have the most chapters with 17 and 15 respectively.
YouthMappers is an international network of university student-led chapters who organize, collaborate, and implement mapping activities that respond to development needs around the globe, creating and using geospatial data and information that is made publicly available through OpenStreetMap.
Growing OpenStreetMap through universities is a good model, as the students have a direct incentive to volunteer through mapping and are gaining geospatial skills while at the same time contributing to open data. YouthMappers provide Leadership and Research Fellowships to a number of students per year, who go on to become leaders of OSM communities in their countries.
Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team in Africa
Since 2015, HOT has run country programs in eight countries in Africa and also supported OSM communities with devices and Microgrants in 19 countries in Africa. In most of the countries where HOT has worked, they have engaged the local communities in different projects, and have helped start up communities.
Open Cities Africa
Open Cities Africa is a World Bank project that promotes collaborative mapping to build resilient societies in 16 cities in 13 countries in Africa. This project collects data, and builds skills and networks to support disaster risk management in Africa and makes the much needed connection for OSM communities and governments to collaborate on projects.
Definition of Membership
Over the years, the different OSM communities have been growing their membership and it is interesting to see how they define their membership, which is different from country to country.
- 56% - Everyone who contributes to OpenStreetMap in our country
- 38% - People who participate in events e.g. mapping parties, mapathons and Meetups
- 6% - People who have paid a membership fee
OpenStreetMap communities in Africa do meetups for mapathons, mapping parties, and planning. Meetups are a good way to keep the community engaged and active. It requires space, an internet connection, a team to organize, and in most cases funds to pay for these resources including snacks and refreshments.
From the survey we found out that 46% of the communities have not met in a long time, meaning that the community is in place but not particularly active. Out of all of the communities, 24% have never had any meetup, which suggests there is not an active network in place. The remaining 30% meet regularly, either weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
The regular Meetups indicate the existence of leadership and the capacity to raise funds or resources through membership fees, through funded projects or through partnerships with a university, NGO, or company that can provide space and internet.
When it comes to communication, most OSM communities in Africa communicate through Facebook and WhatsApp. The other communication channels used are Telegram and the Talk Mailing Lists. Only 34% of the communities have a website. When reaching out to these communities, it is important to use their preferred channels. Otherwise they may miss out on the information.
Having a leadership and organizational structure for an OSM community is an asset for community growth as it makes it easier to partner with other organizations and even take on a wider scale of projects. Of the 52 countries that responded to the survey, 45% have some kind of leadership structure for the community. It is also interesting to note that there is no uniform leadership structure. One of the challenges that new communities face is deciding on what kind of leadership or organizational structure to put in place.
In particular, the structure they choose should be able to accommodate different groups promoting OSM in a single country. If not done properly, this choice can lead to divisions within the local OSM community as some groups may feel left out.
For countries that have a leadership structure in place, the following are the examples of structures they have in place.
- National Coordinator, Secretary General, Treasurer, and a Chairperson
- NGO structure with a Board and Secretariat
- National Association
- NGO structure: President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Project Managers
- OSM Lead and Activity Communication Person
- Country Coordinator, Project Coordinator, Training Coordinator and Personnel Coordinator.
- Core group of 5 individuals
- YouthMappers chapter with a leadership structure modelled off of that organization’s structure
Depending on how long the community has been in place, each community defined success in a different way.
- Organizing community led projects
- Mapping public transport in cities
- Organizing regular mapathons and training events
- Establishing YouthMappers chapters in different universities across the country
- Contributing to open data through mapping
- Participation in the Open Cities Project
- Mapping all health facilities in the country
- Starting an OSM community where none existed before
- Completely mapping the country and using the data for spatial planning
- Organizing the State of the Map Africa conference
- Government, NGOs, and businesses using OpenStreetMap
- Humanitarian mapping to address Cholera, Ebola, Lassa Fever, cyclones, and flooding.
- Running HOT Microgrant projects
- Getting more women involved in mapping
- Registering as a non-profit organisation
Growing an OSM community in Africa comes with challenges. The countries which have active communities are the ones who have managed to find solutions to these challenges.
- Lack of tools, laptops, or phones for mapping.
- Unstable internet connections, which are also expensive.
- Lack of commitment from members to volunteer for free.
- Lack of funding for activities.
- Lack of awareness and buy in from decision makers in government.
- Little knowledge about OpenStreetMap.
- Lack of space for Meetups and trainings.
- Lack of leadership within the community.
- Low membership retention levels and volunteers losing interest along the way.
- Some YouthMappers chapters not being represented in the local community.
- Multiple languages, including Arabic, French, Swahili, and English, which makes coordination difficult.
- The lack of official postal addresses and zip codes in cities makes mapping of useful data much more difficult.
- Political challenges, war, and occupation by other countries making all activities, including mapping, difficult and dangerous.
- Some governments in Africa are reluctant to open up their data. They want to retain control of all mapping and surveying activities.
- Difficulties accessing funding without formal registration.
- Gender imbalances, with less women being involved in OpenStreetMap.
- Poor coordination in countries where there are multiple groups promoting OpenStreetMap and doing work in the same area but with different goals.
- Concerns around data privacy when pitching OpenStreetMap to potential partners.
- Lack of a volunteer culture, with volunteer work not being valued in some countries.
- Low resolution, unclear imagery, especially in informal settings, makes mapping very difficult.
- There is no OpenStreetMap tagging for some features unique to Africa.
- Lack of an open source culture in some countries.
- Concerns around data quality, since anyone anywhere can edit the map.
Solutions to the challenges
For all the challenges faced, there are solutions which have worked in some countries that can also be applied in the other countries facing the same challenges.
- Collaboration among different actors, GIS professionals, business, and government
- Creating OSM, open data, and open source awareness through trainings and online campaigns
- Establishing local OSM communities where they don’t exist
- Establishing more YouthMappers chapters
- Formal registration as an organization to open up opportunities for funding, partnerships and projects.
- Forming partnerships with organizations and companies can make it easier for a community to get things like internet access or meeting space easily.
- Writing Project proposals and applying for grants to get funding through OSMF & HOT Microgrants and other funding opportunities.
- Development of value-added applications on top of OpenStreetMap that meet everyday challenges
- Organizing State of the Map conferences where the different communities share their stories and learn from each other.
- Organizing regular Meetups, mapathons, and mapping parties to keep the community active.
- Establishing digital champions in villages, that can be given access to devices and internet and help update the map in their village.
- Segmenting WhatsApp groups by city, by district, and by university to make collaboration and communication easy.
- Mobilizing funds from community members contributing for internet access and space.
OSMF Microgrants 2020
One of the major challenges pointed out in the survey was lack of access to funds for internet access and other things. Yet communities in only 11 countries from Africa applied for the OSMF Microgrants this year.
For the countries with no applications, some had communities that were not aware of the call for applications or no active community to begin with. For others there was just a lack of capacity, with no team to work on a proposal, and a few felt they had no need for a microgrant.
The OSM Foundation has a membership scheme which costs £15 per year. It also has the option of a fee waiver for people who don’t have access to suitable money transfer options or can’t afford the fee because of financial hardship.
Members of the OSM communities in Africa need to become members of the Foundation so they can participate in the decision making process about the future of OpenStreetMap and so they can propose things that work for them within OpenStreetMap.
However, only 32% of the people who responded to the survey are members of the OSMF Foundation.
The following were given as some of the limitations for becoming members.
- Payment platform limitations - Paypal is not accessible in several countries.
- Some were not aware of OSMF membership at all.
- Some felt being OMS volunteers was enough for them and didn’t see the need to be members.
- Others expressed that they had a lack of funds, suggesting they were not aware of the fee waiver option.
The lack of awareness shows the need for the foundation to consider using different communication channels when reaching out to the communities in Africa, including Facebook and Whatsapp. Otherwise many will be left out.
OSMF Working Groups
The OSM Foundation has different Working Groups through which the Foundation supports OpenStreetMap in specific areas.
- Licensing Working Group
- Data Working Group
- Operations Working Group
- Engineering Working Group
- Communication Working Group
- StateoftheMap Organizing Committee
- Membership Working Group
- Local Chapters and Communities Working Group
It is important for OSM Africa members to also participate in these working groups, not only to support the foundation, but also to be part of the process of shaping OpenStreetMap in a way that works for us. When asked about participation in the OSMF Working Groups, 36% didn’t know about the existence of Working Groups at all, 41% participate in some way, and 23% were aware but unable to participate.
Reasons for lack of participation in the OSMF Working Groups
- Lack of awareness of the existence of the Working Groups
- Lack of time to participate in the Working Groups
- Lack of access to the internet
- Language barrier
Establishing OSMF Local Chapters in Africa
Local Chapters are country level or region level organizations affiliated with the OSM Foundation. There are several benefits in becoming a local chapter, among which is being a legal entity representing OpenStreetMap and mappers when dealing with the local government, business, and media. At the moment there are only 9 official Local Chapters recognized by the OSM Foundation globally and none of those are in Africa. Why are there 33 OSM communities in Africa, yet no local chapters affiliated with the OSM Foundation? We asked the members what steps should be taken to change this.
- Start with individual membership in OSMF
- We need to set up local structures
- There is a need to make the application process easier, which means participating in the Local Chapters and Communities Working Group to make this happen.
- Create incentives or benefits for becoming a local chapter
- Create more awareness about the process and benefits of becoming a local chapter.
- Provide mentorship and leadership training to local OSM Communities
- Invite OSMF Board and WG leads to speak to OSM Africa members
- Provide communities financial support to get registered
Where will OSM be in 10 Years.
Lastly, we asked the OSM Africa community leaders about their vision for OpenStreetMap in 10 years time, and this is what they had to say:
- OpenStreetMap will be the main source of spatial data for both national governments, organizations and development spearheading solutions and policies.
- Entire countries completely mapped on OpenStreetMap
- More members, more job creation through OpenStreetMap
- More strong local communities in most countries in Africa
- The entire world will be using OpenStreetMap
- There will be more mappers and more users
- YouthMappers chapters in every University
- Number one reference for Mapping across the continent
- More integration of OpenStreetMap in games 3D Mapping, Points Clouds, VR and Entertainment
- More OpenStreetMap based projects in Africa
- OpenStreetMap will be the number one basemap in the world
The purpose of the survey was to see where we are as OSM Africa, where we need to be, and now we can focus on achieving our goal to map each and every corner of Africa.
My experiences from State of the Map 2018, Milan, ItalyPosted by Kateregga1 on 4 August 2018 in English (English). Last updated on 5 August 2018.
State of the Map 2018 reinforced the diversity of the global OpenStreetMap Community and also lit a torch into the future of the OSM. This blogpost highlights my experiences in Milan and my key takeaways from the conference.
From the day I received the news that I was granted a scholarship to attend the conference, to the day I landed in Milan, it was all an awesome experience. The OSMF through Rob and Dorothea, provided wonderful support to make sure we all got our visas approved, and flights and accommodation booked. Visiting a new place can be intimidating, but thanks to the wonderful support everything went smoothly.
For me the fun began in Dubai where I met other scholars and participants Arnalie, Montshy, Iyan, and Eugene on the way to Milan, traveling as a group made it more fun and easier. The train ride from Malpensa Int. Airport to the Milan Central station took about 55 minutes, and then a 15 minutes walk to our hotel welcomed us to Milan.
Milan, a bit warmer than i expected - did not disappoint, with a mix of modern and ancient architecture, there was lot to take in even on the first day. But what made it even more interesting were the people I met, the scholars and other participants. New friendships were made.
Before SOTM 2018 I had attended State of the Map US in 2015 and 2017 and also helped organise State of the Map Africa in Kampala in 2017. But I had always wanted to attend the global one, and so my chance came at Milan, 2018.
SotM 2018 was a wonderful conference, I enjoyed every bit of it from day one to the last day. It was interesting to meet in person people I have been interacting with for a long time online. I was able to connect with different international and local organizations and communities, like the HOT community, FOSS4G 2018, YouthMappers, OSM Africa and Mapillary.
On day two of the conference, I was able to participate in a panel discussion on “Sustaining OSM Communities” led by Erica Hagen. It was interesting to talk about the challenges around sustaining an OSM community and the solutions different communities are trying to come up with.
The sessions ranged from technical to non-technical ones, there were always so many good choices that it was always very hard to make choice, the good news is that most of the sessions were recorded and I can revisit and listen to those that I had missed.
On the third and last day of the conference I was also able to do a presentation about our project in Uganda - Mapping for Refugees. You can watch the video here
The conference also announced the Swahili Version of WeeklyOSM which will be coming out soon, we are putting together a team of contributors, most of them YouthMappers from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
It was also good to meet other mappers from other countries in Africa, and we were able to have an OSM Africa BoF meeting at the conference where we talked about the upcoming SotM Africa 2019 as well as setting up local chapters in different countries in Africa. The session was attended by mappers from Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Togo, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Senegal, and a board member of OSMF.
My favourite part of the event was the closing session where OSM Awards took place. It was so exciting to see my friend Tshedy from #MapLesotho win the greatness in mapping award and Crowd2Map Tanzania who won the Africa award, both were well deserved. Afterwards, they announced the venue for the next SOTM which will be in Heidelberg Germany.
The conference made my love for OpenStreetMap grow even stronger. My dream is to see OpenStreetMap communities in Africa get more organised and become official local chapters of the OSM Foundation. It is about time the State of the Map Global comes to Africa and when the opportunity comes, it should find all of us ready.
Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Voting Member Nomination 2015Posted by Kateregga1 on 14 November 2015 in English (English).
How did you become involved in HOT?
I got involved in HOT in March 2015 as a Regional OSM Trainer for the [Tanzania] (https://hotosm.org/projects/tanzania) project with Mr. Jeff Haack. This came after OpenStreetMap work done with [Mapping day Uganda] (http://www.mappingday.com/) organizing mapping events and training university students in different parts of the country on how to map and using the HOT tasking manager to help when disaster occurs elsewhere in the world.
In June 2015 I was lucky to be one of the scholarship winners for [State of the Map US 2015] (http://stateofthemap.us/) in New York. This gave me an opportunity to learn more about how HOT operates through attending HOT meetings at conference and sharing experiences with several people involved in HOT.
Could you tell us about your involvement in HOT, mapping and/or humanitarian response?
I am currently involved in HOT as the Lead Mapping Supervisor working on Community Mapping for Flood Resilience - [Ramani Huria] (http://ramanihuria.org/) in Dar es Salaam Tanzania. My work involves supervising and coordinating all mapping activities. We have trained over 150 university students who are all part of the HOT community in Tanzania now.
In June 2015, I was one of the participants who attended the HOT Activation Curriculum workshop in Dar es Salaam. At the workshop I was able to meet with other 13 HOT people from different parts of Africa where we were able to share experiences on what HOT means to everyone and what we would like to see happen in the future especially for Africa.
What does HOT mean to you?
For me HOT is one of the big inspirations for people to map. It is human nature to offer help to anyone who is affected by disaster, mapping and organising mapathons is the only way through which some of us can give the much needed help. But also being part of HOT gives very many OpenStreetMappers a sense of belonging to something special that is being done for the map that we all love.
Why do you want to be a voting member?
Becoming a HOT voting member will give me an opportunity to have a voice within the global community to be able to contribute to its growth. A lot of things happen behind doors to make what the rest of the world see as HOT, it will be an honor for me to be able to contribute to this process as a voting member.
As a voting member of HOT what do you see as your most important responsibility?
As a voting member, my most important responsibility will be to voice the opinions of the growing community in Eastern Africa in matters affecting the corporation and helping it grow by openly expressing my point of view on different issues whenever necessary. Also it will be my responsibility to be an ambassador of HOT in Africa by promoting the aims and objectives of the corporation in whichever way that I can.
How do you plan to be involved in HOT as a voting member?
As a voting my member my role will be to participate in the voting process by supporting initiatives that are important for the growth of the corporation. In addition I also hope to take part actively in future activations especially in Africa basing on lessons learned from the HOT activation workshop that was organized for us in June 2015 in Dar es Salaam Tanzania.
What do you see as HOT’s greatest challenge and how do you plan to help HOT meet that challenge?
The greatest challenge I can see for HOT is finding a reasonable balance between community development, technical projects and collaborative mapping. From my experience gained on working on community mapping for flood resilience in Dar es Salaam, I will be able to contribute by giving my opinion whenever required on the course of direction to take on any project that arises.
OSM TrainingPosted by Kateregga1 on 20 May 2014 in English (English).
Training youth at http://mweva.com/ a youth ICT training center how to map with the team from www.mappingday.com