MapLesotho Impressions

Three days after arriving in Lesotho there are a lot of impressions to gather. Meeting the Lesotho planners and the trainers from Fingal County Council has been amazing. Getting a first hand view of the progress and challenges of the #MapLesotho project is very eye opening.

Mapping training

Over the last couple of days the Fingal mapping trainers Ciarán, Colin, and Dave have been organizing workshops and training around three main topics – engagement, analysis, and tech. The aim of the training is to take the planners knowledge level about mapping with free and open tools close or equal to the experts from Fingal.

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Engagement, analysis, and tech

The engagement part is focused on getting people involved and spreading the mission, both around the world and within Lesotho. Cooperating with people engaged in OSM and mapping communities all over the world will still be integral when Fingals involvement decreases. By being active and open about what is happening on mapping forums the project can gain attention, interest, and in the end help. At home, a different story can be told and getting awareness of the significance of improved maps will be important on many levels.

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The engagement team enjoying a discussion

The analysis group is using advanced GIS tools such as PostGIS and QGIS to query and visualize different aspects of the OSM data. A deep level of understanding – including database queries – is needed and the planners take on this challenge.

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The analysis team reflecting on their progress

The technical team work does hands on identification of mapping errors and improvement of the existing maps mainly by using JSOM together with a number of powerful plugins.

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The technical team doing some serious OSM validation

The aims of the focus groups overlaps which is quickly learned. Analysis can give direct input to the tech team of where to look for certain problems. Increasing engagement will require teaching the technical side and so on.

Responsibility

Active participation and discussion is both a goal and a means of the training. A lot of the responsibility for learing is in the hands of the planners, and they grasp the chance to learn. Passing on this knowledge is important for the continued effort. The planners will go out at the end of next week as teachers themselves. After that they have the responsibility of not only doing what they have learned, but to pass it on to others.

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With tools like Mapillary, which we will do training and workshops around in the coming days, the mapping can be more detailed. The more fine grained the mapping gets, the more resources are needed and therefore more people also need to get involved, from grassroot to minstry level. Everyone can help because crowdsourced mapping is a big project. The importance of the ambassadorial role of the planners will therefore increase. Being able to spread the word is integral to the continued growth and success of the #MapLesotho effort. Their own mapping effort is still as important as before though. Being able to show what you have made a great effort yourself gives you a big advantage when convincing others to participate.

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Lesotho is by now the most mapped country in Africa. But this is not a reason for slowing down. Learning what the mappers are learning right now and passing this on will instead ensure that the mapping accelerates.

/Oscar Lorentzon, Mapillary

This post is published jointly on the #MapLesotho and Mapillary blogs.

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