This post has the goal of sharing my experiences and perceptions about the State of the Map 2018, that was hosted in Milan, Italy, in September 2018, as also some keynotes about my brief talk (Lightning talk – just 5 minutes) that I had the opportunity to give there.
This was my first SotM, not the first Global one, the first SotM event that I had the opportunity to participate! It was incredible to be able to debut in this kind of meeting, participate in one of this scale. The opportunity to do it arrived with a scholarship that I received from OpenStreetMap Foundation, that allowed me to travel from Colombia to Italy and stay in Milan during the days of the event. When I arrived at the SotM, I started to meet other scholars, and, taking advantage of the inspiring Arnalie’s post about inclusivity. I found excellent the effort they made to bring people from different countries and continents, and also from different backgrounds, to the event. It is normal that in an event there is more representation of people from neighboring countries, but regarding the scholars, we had a grand representation of different (and also distant) countries.
I was there representing my research group and YouthMappers´ chapter from Universidad de Antioquia, where I am a professor and chapter´s coordinator. GeoSIG UdeA is a research line of Geolimna group, and our objectives are: to promote the learning and use of free and commercial tools, the generation of geospatial data through the use of alternative and novel technologies, and the planning of mapping, analysis, monitoring, evaluation and dissemination of georeferenced data. The areas of interest of the group are framed in four major themes: Environmental Management; Society and Culture; Urban Sustainability, and Innovation and Education.
As I mentioned before, I had the opportunity to give a Lightning Talk, a 5-minute talk in which I talked about the projects that we have been developing in the group. In 2017, we were selected in the HOT Microgrants 2017 with the proposal “Mapping of coastal wetlands in the Urabá Gulf to help planners and the local fishing community to respond to flooding hazards in the area”, or CASTOCOSTA-URABÁ as we call it as a short name.
We have developed this project working on three scales: in the macro-scale, we have mapped all the settlements in the municipality of Turbo in the Gulf of Urabá; in the meso-scale, the entire urban head of Turbo; and on the micro-scale, we have worked with the fishing community of Bahia El Uno.
This year, we had a student selected in the 2018 YouthMappers Research Fellowship, which allowed us to develop the second version of the CARTOCOSTA-URABA project, this time in Bocas del Atrato. The community, which is also characterized as a fishing community, is located on the western side of the Urabá Gulf, accessible from Turbo only by boat.
My talk was focused on how to engage community and volunteers in open mapping projects. Involving the local community is always very difficult, but especially when working with low budget. So my keynotes from this presentation are:
- Work where there is already an established trust network. If that relationship does not exist on the part of the group, seek to ally with local groups.
- Always contact the leaders of the community before starting a project, hold a socialization meeting and explain what it is about, the importance of the project to them, and how they can continue working with the results for their development.
- Only start the project with the approval of the leaders and the community.
- Do the possible to involve university students in the field activities. For example, instead of sending professors to the community by airplane, we preferred to rent a minibus to take 12 students with us :)
- We went from a methodology work of three trips to the community (socialization, field activities, and delivery of results) to work with four trips to the community. Before socializing the final results, we returned to the community to analyze the data with them, allowing the community members to participate in it.
To conclude, it was a really interesting experience for me to participate in the SotM. I was also nominated for the OpenStreetMap Awards 2018, in the category Improvement the Improvement the Latin America Award, and I won it!
There were too many options of talks, it was impossible to attend all those that I was interested in. The good thing is that the main ones were recorded and can be viewed in the SotM 2018 Youtube channel. In this type of event in fact, from my point of view, it is more important to create a network of contacts than to be trying to attend all possible talks.
All that remains for me now is to express my thanks to the OSM Foundation for the opportunity to participate in SotM 2018, all the stakeholders that made the event possible, HOT, and YouthMappers for all the opportunities I have had since I started working with humanitarian mapping and open data.