My State of the Map Experience in Heidelberg

Posted by tshedy on 8 October 2019 in English (English)

Earlier this year I applied for the scholarship to attend HOTSUMMIT and State of the Map (SOTM) global Conference in Heidelberg, Germany. The application was accepted and I got fully a funded scholarship. It was the first SOTM conference that I was able to attend and I was looking forward to meet other OSM mappers and data users and have a clear picture of the experiences shared.

OSM Foundation Assistance

In preparation for the conference I received an email from Christine Karch asking whether I would be interested in joining and working together with the program’s committee, and of course I accepted. Being part of that team gave me an insight of how preparations for such a huge conference are done, as well as the criteria used on how the choice of proposals submitted is done. That task was a good experience and I was grateful.

I would also like to show my appreciation to Dorothea for here support and guidance from the day I got accepted for scholarship. She was always available through emails and ready to respond to all the questions I had. The process of getting visa was successful first hand because of her help in listing all that’s needed and sending all the documents I would need. She also made my travel to Heidelberg stress-free from flights connections, train and public transport connections.

I also like to thank Christine ones again for believing in me and giving me an opportunity to chair nine sessions at the conference. I was grateful that I was given that chance because in my experience such little opportunities help in building one’s confidence in public speaking.

Conference Presentations

The presentations at the conference were interesting so much that one would get confused because some session that a person was interested in would be parallel. But then the fact that the sessions were recorded made it possible to listen to the sessions after. The presentations I was able to attend to were enlightening as presenters shared their knowledge of how OSM data could be used. Some of the sessions which I found useful for my profession as a Spatial Planner had the following titles:

*How to use OpenStreetMap data with the Desktop GIS, QGIS.

*OSM data processing with Postgres SQL/PostGIS.

There were also sessions on Transport and mobility which I found very useful. Nowadays traffic congestion is a serious issue in Lesotho and one task I felt we have to do in Lesotho is to ensure that all the road networks are well mapped showing clear hierarchy of roads. I learned from the sessions that mobility could be improved as the OSM data could be manipulated to see what needs to be done.

As scholars we were also given opportunity to give lightning talks. I had my presentation on “How OSM is used in Spatial Planning in Lesotho”.

Tshedy giving presentation


In both conferences HOTSUMMIT and SOTM I met people I have connected with on social media, and communication channels used by OSM users such as WhatsApp and Telegram. I was happy to see OSMAfrica friends and we got a chance to have short meeting face to face and talk about the coming SOTM Africa event in Ivory Coast.


As scholars we were staying in one hostel and we got a chance to share with each other the various projects we are involved in on OSM. We were treating each other like family and made sure nobody got lost in the streets of Heidelberg.


There was a social event planned every evening and the most favourite event for me was the quiz session, whereby cities were extracted from OSM showing mostly roads and people had to identify cities and say the names. Hahah, let me make a confession though: I looked at the answers before having to guess the names of the cities. To my surprise, Maseru the capital city of Lesotho was on the list. The reason for my surprise is because most of the time when I introduce myself I have to explain to people that Lesotho is a country not part and parcel of South Africa. So seeing Maseru made me proud, yay!

Closing Session

The closing session had two very fascination announcement that I think I should mention. One is approval of OSM Ireland as an official Local Chapter. Pursuing my studies in Ireland for two years I was able to join the team in some of their meetings so in a way I was happy that the finally got the approval. The second announcement that got me clapping none stop was the news that next year SOTM 2020 will be in Cape Town. That is close to home (Lesotho) and I feel like I’m also the host.


I would like to thank OSMF for giving me an opportunity to attend the conference.

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