Mapper since:
August 26, 2010

Africa is my home. I divide my time between home in Durban, South Africa and other home in Nairobi, Kenya. I also travel, these days mostly to Silicon Valley in the USA.

I came out of a local government background, where as a spatial planner I received formal training in aerial photo interpretation, photogrammetry and land survey, so I enjoy a challenge turning the satellite pics into OSM data. I have used commercial GIS systems since the 80’s, starting on the simple but very effective Atlas GIS by Strategic Mapping Inc. and later moving on to the infuriating but effective ARC/INFO by ESRI when we found we could afford the astronomical licence fees. Now I’m a QGIS fan and have used it supporting philanthropic work in Rangpur Division, Bangladesh.

I’ve done lot of Land Use mapping for city planning purposes. I wrote a data management system to facilitate this, and I worked on classification schema - what OSM calls Tagging. I’ve picked up a lot of information technology knowledge over the years, and really appreciate the unseen and mostly unrecognised technical work that the operations side of OSMF does to keep our favourite mapping system on our screens.

I concentrate on mapping in Africa, though I’ve mapped all over the world. I especially like mapping poorly or unmapped places. I love the knowledge that I’ve put a village on the map so perhaps now the residents can be recognised and can receive development support and humanitarian aid. I’m also very interested in conservation and climate change, so I do a lot of mapping of threatened forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in several places in Kenya, such as the Mara reserve and forests and wetlands inland of Lamu town. I map a lot of rocks, sand and dry river beds in Chad because I am interested in both rock arches and the East Saharan montane xeric woodland which somehow survives on high mountains in the Sahara.

In my later working life I did less geography and demographics and I turned to Strategic planning, Risk management, Performance management, Budgeting and other grey lifeless management drudgery. Those tiresome things do have their uses for building and managing organisations, and I watch the work of the OSMF and the development of global OSM communities with a lot of interest.

All the close watching with lots of interest has more recently led to me getting elected onto the management board of the OSM Foundation and more recently promotion to the post of Secretary of the Board and Chair of the Finance Committee. We’ll have to see what comes of that…