#MapLesotho phase 2 begins

It’s all too exciting!

Yesterday evening #MapLesotho DaCorr launched another eleven tasks on HOTOSM. These tasks match perfectly the ten districts of Lesotho, with a task for Maseru City being the eleventh.


Taking Buildings to a higher quality level

Three things drive the mapping tasks. of course it is designed to do what is orthodox in improving from a basemap. But it also has a to find unmapped things and improve the tracing significantly. Finally there are a number of items that will drive forward the foundation of settlement  planning in Lesotho.

In the first phase a lot of buildings were skipped over in the rural mapping as they were optional in the task instructions.


On this last point there is an initiative to apply a methodology to mark the areas of human settlement on all scales. This will help enormously to start with the calculations of built up area and density, rather than calculating from known sizes of districts and community council areas. This is a big help to Lesotho’s Planners. They can see low densities and try to earmark those places to meet demand for land, rather than allowing the land take to constantly and unsustainably sprawl out, at the expense of Agriculture.


Marking out residential areas to assist settlement planning


In order to kick-start this new phase the OSM community in Lesotho means to pass a modem clockwise around the country starting on the 1st June and finishing on the 30th.


Schedule for June Mapping


A schedule was developed to maximise access to the Modem. Its like a big relay race, with gatherings in the district camp-towns and of course Maseru.

Watch out for the tasks on the hotosm projects list. We have Quthing, Mohale’s Hoek, Mafeteng, Maseru City, Maseru District, Berea, Leribe, Buthe-Botha, Mokhotlong, Thaba Tseka, and Qacha’s Nek. Also watch out for #MapLesotho tweets in June as the Modem travels around the mountain Kingdom.

Outcome of the #MapLesotho Mapillary Challenge

The challenge was discussed here has been going for 7 weeks. On the 31st August 2015 it ended at midnight. Mappers all went to bed, early for once…. wondering if their score was high enough to rise a place or two. Of course the prize for 10 lucky mappers is a gorgeous smartphone, pre-loaded with several useful mapping apps with help from Eduardo, Peter and Jan from Mapillary.

Peter Neuebauer

Peter Neuebauer – Mapillary

Jan Erik Solem

Jan Erik Solem – Mapillary

What a roller-coaster ride it was for the last few weeks. Positions changed on a daily basis. Mappers engaged in banter in English and Sesotho. Generally the good spirits were wrapped in encouragement, for friends, for district loyalties and for people who were exciting us all by charging up the leaderboard.

Very valuable exchanges took place between mappers trying to tether to the internet using their phones, or using HOTOSM task manager, or even how to draw circular huts (Mokhoros) or using the ford tag. All of this re-inforced previously learned OSM skills.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 11.02.44

Mapillary can be used to add details like posts and road signs to the map of Lesotho

And since we began all previous #MapLesotho records were broken here are some:

  • Basotho based OSM users created 2.9 Million nodes over the period of the competition
  • An average of 54,419 nodes were created by each tracked user. Twelve mappers exceeded this average.
  • Manobby rose from number #48 on week 2, to number #3 on week six, with about 90% of her mapping squeezed into week 6
  • She was only surpassed by Ntebo who squeezed the creation of almost 200,000 nodes all the in the final week
  • Tshedy was the 10th biggest mapper in the world for the month of August. Four of the mappers above her were doing bulk imports, which means Lesotho has an elite mapper
  • On the 28th of August mappers collectively made 252,185 nodes, which is a record for any single 24 hours during over a year of #MapLesotho
  • Lesotho was in the top 5 countries in the world for the number of “modified” nodes on 14 occasions during the 7 weeks
  • The #MapLesotho Urban task had taken a whole year to reach just 68% completeness was finished off before the end of week 4

The end result of the competition is that there are 10 winners, who are seen here. The Final table of the top 10 winners now makes a little Mapillary community in Lesotho who will eventually create a free-of copyright resource used to assist with accurate mapping.

#MapLesotho Mapillary Leaderboard

#MapLesotho Mapillary Leaderboard

Huge lessons were learned from this phase of #MapLesotho. One is that OSM can be gamified. A second is that mobile phones are a reliable, and now affordable source of internet connection. Third is that Basotho Assistant Area Planners are capable of mapping (on average) 1,000 nodes per day. A fourth is that as mapping increases so does the quality of mapping. Fifthly, a critical mass of people mapping creates a community effect, people who are also mapping but not with winning the challenge as as target. Lastly, not all districts in Lesotho are created equal in terms of their enthusiasm to participate in #MapLesotho.

District tallies for the #MapLesotho Mapillary Challenge

District tallies for the #MapLesotho Mapillary Challenge

Finally, on behalf of all judges, contestants and OSM enthusiasts I want to thank Mapillary for supporting this initiative through sponsorship of this phase and the use of their wonderful free resources to help #MapLesotho in the future. And on behalf of our sponsors I want to congratulate all those who took part. Now, instead of monitoring use, animating new users, and I myself can get back to mapping as DeBigC.

From the Archives: Last Day Mapping On Site 18/02/14

Today was our last day on site with our planners. It started out as a scorcher with the mercury touching over 33 degrees celsius today.

We collected over 120 points of interest in the two hours and as you can see the map is very rapidly becoming filled with useful data for the planners to use in their day to day work.

The information collected today consisted of the location of various facilities such as septic tanks, telephone poles, shops, boundary walls, latrines and many more points.

*More updates to follow this evening the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the Lesotho Government and Fingal County Council. *

From the Archives: Monday Mapping Contest between the Planners 17/02/14

The area to be mapped today will be divided into three groups. Groups 1 – 4. The map below show’s their boundaries. We will be digitizing from 13h00GMT today if you would like to join tweet us.


If you would like to watch some live updates please checkout the map below. note that you must wait a minute of two before it starts pulling in updates.


From the archives: Mohale Dam

Mohale Dam

Every day in Lesotho brings us something different. As a last minute suggestion on Friday some of the Lesotho Planners said they were interested in a trip to Mohale Dam on the eastern border of the Maseru district.

The dimension of learning, [apart from the lovely drive up and down to a height of 2,200 metres through hairpin bends and stunning countryside] would be to see the GPS devices capture altitudes as well as locations. Everywhere we go in Lesotho we are capturing points is what we are doing, as the country has relatively little of its features on maps. The data capture on the way up shows the hairpin bends as the GPS unit was set to capture our journey ar regular intervals.

Back to the Dam. It certainly is an impressive structure, standing 145m tall and 620m across the valley through which the Senqunye River. It is constructed mainly from compacted rock and not from cast concrete. We received an orientation talk from the Highlands Development Authority on the history of the project at their visitor centre.

@CiaranStaunton on TwitterLook, everything is postmodern now so nobody has any original ideas anymore. My views are therefore yours. Public servant, father, coach and obsessive.

From the Archives: Similarities to note from Lesotho 13/02/14

On Monday the Chief Planner of Lesotho asked if we would look at the issues caused by the sudden, and in some cases unplanned, building out of part of the Berea district call Ho Fuso. When the team started analysing the population data it seemed like Berea was very familiar. Here’s why:

  • Berea has a current population of 273,832
  • Berea is located on the Northern Fringe of the national capital in mainly agricultural land
  • Residents of Berea district are affluent and economically mobile as they commute to Maseru to work
  • Berea has seen a rapid population increase exceeding 20% in a five year period

Almost all of these things could be said of Fingal. However, here’s what’s different:

  • Development in Fingal is directed into urban and suburban building, while Berea is almost completely peri-rural and involves one-off dwellings.
  • Development in Fingal is infrastructure-led (drains, water, power, access roads are built first).
  • Fingal has a mix of specific zones for agriculture, industry. commerce and residential. Berea (and specifically Ho Fuso) is mostly residential with few other activities to speak of.

From the Archives: Fingal Team Land in Lesotho 11/02/2014

We set off from Dublin Airport on Saturday morning 8th of February and flew into London Heathrow, then we took a South African Airlines flight to Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo) and then almost 24 hours later we arrived at Moshoeshoe airport in Lesotho. We were greeted at the airport by our colleagues from the Fingal based charity group, Action Ireland Trust (AIT). We got a great welcome from the AIT guys and they swept us all off to our hotel where we will base ourselves for the next two weeks.

On Monday morning we joined our AIT colleagues for the first visit to the school project in Hlalele, just outside the city of Maseru. AIT has carried out building works over the last three years at the school in Hlalele and has transformed the lives of many families in the area. For more information on what AIT and Portmarnock Community School do there, just have a look at the blogs on their websites. We received a phenomenal welcome from the teachers, children and their families. Also contributing to the school project is Lusk (Fingal) based fresh produce growers and food processors, Country Crest. Commercial Manager, Tony Doyle has played an immense role in promoting local horticulture in the area and works closely with a number of organisations in Lesotho. This year is a culmination of the hard work carried out over the last short number of years and this year everyone will be benefitting from home grown pumpkins, potatoes, broccoli and spinach. Tony works with local farmers and students to build capacity and expand their knowledge of all things relating to horticulture. No better man!

The Fingal Team Land in Maseru, Feb 2014

The Fingal Team Land in Maseru, Feb 2014

On Monday afternoon we met with the Chief Physical Planner for Lesotho to whom we presented our programme. There is already an agreed theme for the programme we deliver and it is always agreed well in advance of us travelling to Lesotho. The theme was agreed in 2013 and it is centred on spatial planning and information technology. You will know from earlier blog posts that we have already focussed on the formulation of evidence based planning policy and the use of ArcGIS in planning. This year we will continue this theme by incorporating Open Street Maps and using GPS technology as part of the planners’ toolkit. There are many challenges facing Lesotho in regard to increasing development throughout the country. However on this occasion we have been tasked with focussing our efforts on an area on the outskirts of the Lesotho capital city of Maseru. The area we have been given to work with is called Ha Foso. This area is growing in population and there is already pressures occurring in regard to services such as wastewater treatment and roads.

We will spend the next week working with some of the most learned planners in Lesotho from various districts around Lesotho. Our approach this year will be to deliver a series of talks and site surveys in a CPD format. We will have around 12 planners attending our CPDs with five planners delivering the subject matter. This year the team is made up of myself, Hazel Craigie, Ciaran Staunton, Colin Broderick and Mark Whelan. Mark lives in Donabate near Swords, is part of the AIT team and is also studying planning in University College Dublin. Mark is valued member of our team and is eager to learn about what we are doing and gain some practical planning experience from his participation.

Today we did a recce of the Ha Foso area ahead of commencing our CPDs on Wednesday (12th of February). We have a good programme to deliver and we are all looking forward to getting stuck in to our mapping work.

Plenty of photos to follow.

@joesephcorr on Twitter