Tension, Excitement, Mad Chatter and a Major Milestone

How many mappers does it take to #MapLesotho? Simple answer: All of us!

In point of fact *at least* 250 individuals have made their marks on the Lesothan digital landscape in the Rural Task alone. From a collection of NGOs, a Local Authority, Local Schools in Lesotho, in Ireland, in the US and Canada, OSM.ie, from towns, groups and planners around the world and even his Excellency Paramente Phamoste (who has quite literally thrown his hat into the mapping arena that is Fingal County Council Chamber) we have all made a real map. You have made a real map. We are #MapLesotho.


The Mapping Arena – Fingal County Council Chamber

After a series of successful and fun mapathons, last night, as we pinned our modes, lines and edges, tagged our features and marked our tiles as done, we waited on a lone mapper labouring on tile #2057 – up in top left of the task buried in green and yellow tiles – a lone tile crying out to be mapped and a mapper working his craft. We tweeted with fervour, egging each other on, waiting, waiting, waiting. Sharing our excitement, our impatience, holding our collective breath until finally with a click – @DaCor marked the tile done and we hit a major milestone: 100%!!! – the Lesotho Rural Task has been mapped! The graphs ticked over and the wee thermometer on the Task Manager doesn’t lie. We all pulled together and made it happen. 100% Mapped! It feels great. With a massive push of 7% at last Friday’s marathon we pushed to within 3% of our goal. And then we all pushed on and wish wide contributions we made it happen.

We map with varying levels of detail, some painstaking, some clever, all methodical and all make our own mark. We map in different guises, with funny handles, at different times and in different places – but we all map together. We sit in front of our own screens and interpret the landscape. Sometimes we have the pleasure of coming together in physical surroundings and sharing our passions and enthusiasms. Wherever we are though we never map alone.

As we pat ourselves on the back, all so deserving, much of the real work now lies before us as we move back to the Urban Task (already at 54%) and continue the painstaking task of verifying each others work. But tonight we can rest gratified with a job well done. Tomorrow we can start to share in the benefits of having a solid, workable basemap upon which to build. A map that can change the way people live their lives and see their own world.

Thanks to all and good night.

80% Complete – Nothing like a target of 90% for the New Year

In case you missed it last night a number of #MapLesotho mappers pushed the rural task over 80% complete and 14% validated. We are almost there!

In the spirit of end of year targets, don’t we all love those? We want to break the 90% barrier before the end of 2014! Can you help us? 5 Days. 2% per day. Can we do it!? Spread the word!

Join in!

So please steal some time from your employer / study / family this last week of the year and push#MapLesotho over the 90% mark for the new year.

80% Complete

Mark Your Diary!

There will be a Mapathon taking place on the 16th of January. More details to follow in the coming days.


#MapLesotho hits the magical 2 million openstreetmap nodes

Sounds good, hey?

Creating a whole map of a country is a huge task. And such huge tasks have lots of landmarks along the way.

A node is created every time we click the map, putting the turn of a river, the junction of a road, or the corner of a building. A collection of nodes is a relation, so all four corners of a square building are a relation.


When the Fingal Team touched down in Lesotho in February 2014 the kingdom had just over 25,000 nodes. Most of these nodes were uploads from people who drove around the main highways and  tagged a handful of significant building in Maseru. Some mapping was done near Morija outside Maseru, but little else in the countryside except for the dams, the airports and the centre placemark of the bigger towns. Now with 2,044,582 nodes the country has increased in OSM detail by a factor of 82!

Along the way we have had huge inputs from groups and individuals who are too numerous to mention. The Basotho Planners were the first to go, creating around 100,000 of the nodes in an intensive week in February and concentrating on Ha Foso. Then with the help of Dave Corley in April five #hotosm tasks were set up which easily doubled that.

Then we started using the hashtag #MapLesotho all around the world people joined in and our Polish, Canadian, German and Catalonian colleagues each contributed a big splash of edits at various times in the urban and rural tasks.  The person who I need to mention, because he works regularly and consistently is our learnod G.I.S. teacher Shawn Day who trades under the OSM handle Eireidium. Also worthy of mention is Soren Johannessen who, apart from mapping, watches the OSM system stats and tweets about progress!

Soren has compared the OSM penetration in Lesotho with six similar African countries and this makes very interesting reading because it is now, rightfully, a hotbed of sustained OSM activity. The fact is if node creation is a sound measure of mapping engagement then Lesotho is now the 29th most mapped country on the planet, and the fifth most mapped African country.

The challenge we all have is to balance the short-term appeal of crisis mapping, with that of a more sustained interest in mapping a continent that lacks environmental control, and orderly physical development. All of these facts are acknowledged in the Lesotho Government’s own strategies. And we also may need to “end-run” the mapping process in some countries to show what effect creating a freely useable and re-useable store of spatial data has for African governance in planning and environmental management. That sounds lofty, but something we have the chance to prove if we continue to #MapLesotho.