Good Citizenship in Open Data

I didn’t expect my rant would strike such a nerve, but maybe I’ve been holding my tongue for a long time. Thank you for the many responses, online and off, both supportive and challenging.

We must work to understand what good citizenship and ethical behavior means in open data projects. The nature of communication, copying and competition in the space of open data is very complex. Yes, it’s not just about Google, but about raising the awareness of these issues among the people organizing open data projects, and especially the communities where we want to have an impact. The best idea I’ve heard this week (in a week of amazing ideas in Cambridge) was from Jeffrey Warren. We need a clear set of principles and ethics to guide the practice of open data initiatives in new communities. Open data collection should have: open and clear explanations of the purpose of data collection and the license of data; effort to find existing sources of data, rather than replicating and resurveying, and lobbying for the sharing of that data; effort to give the communities that collect data every opportunity to use that data in their own work, however they see fit; etc…

Participation in open data is both about the arcane topics of data licensing, and simply and most importantly being a good citizen. The impression of legal matters is usually all any non-lawyer grasps … it’s just too hard to understand the subtleties of legal text, and we rely on trusted intermediaries to explain what’s what. Google is trusted, and they’re misusing that trust with communities, NGOs, and governments. And Google has huge resources, they get a lot of attention. They’re representing their mapping offerings as free and open, when they’re ultimately controlled by their business concerns. Google has one of the slickest communication practices around, with subtle phrasing that gives an impression of cooperation, but with built in protection whenever someone digs into the details. This is deceptive.

There’s no problem with copying, it’s encouraged. Mapping Parties are not patented. There’s no license on ideas, because fair play is expected. Simply, being a good citizen, being a friend in this diverse space, means giving credit and giving back. Google has taken a concept, adapted it, and not attributed. Not until last year did they even use the phrase Mapping Party for Map Maker events (sometimes that got the attention it deserved). In places where there’s been exposure, Google didn’t “throw Mapping Parties”, because of course it would’ve been noticed as deriving from OSM. And Google is alergic to giving any notice to OSM, for example omitting any mention of the biggest open data project on the planet, which originated in the UK, from their glossy magazine on UK Open Data.

Competition is a very crude and inaccurate way of describing the relationships in the open data space, especially between OSM and Google, and is based on confusion of what OpenStreetMap is all about. OSM is essentially a commons, a data project where everyone can contribute, share and use. OSM is not a company, it’s not an NGO. It’s a collective where hackers, governments, universities, anarchists, slum dwellers, multinational corporations, and international organizations all contribute to a common endeavor to map the world. Every other major internet company contributes to OSM in some substantial way. It is Google only that has decided it’s in competition with OSM, not because of the designs of engineers and product people, but because doing so would undermine something Google thinks it can profit from.

Honestly, I would be thrilled to see Google adopt the use of OSM. The data of OSM is very different from the interfaces and the software. The site and tools definitely need improvement, but it’s not because wants to take away traffic from Google Maps. OSM’s frontpage needs to do something different: “The frontpage fails to communicate what the project does and why it does it effectively. The controls are confusing for new users (lots of random tabs and sidebar). In addition, it totally fails to connect new users to others around them and thus create a community.” Google could even be helping with this.

Never did I say that Google should stop making its products, but rather than it should stop exploitation. In more positive terms, Google must be a better citizen. I even said that a lot of what Google is doing in Africa is good for Africa. I use Google products all the time, live by Google Calendar, and think Summer of Code is awesome no matter how many spaces OpenStreetMap gets. They’ve contributed in great ways to humanitarian response. I have many friends at Google, who are not surprised by what I said, but perhaps surprised that I said it out loud on the Internet. But this is one place where Google’s Africa Strategy has fouled up directly in a space I care deeply about, fueled by business concerns, cloaked in open data clothes, but ultimately dangerous. As Ping said on Crisis Mappers (about a different OSM-Google issue, but equally valid here) …

It is okay to have issues with Google. Google is a big place; there are a lot of different people and different teams here, all trying to accomplish different things. It’s tough to assign a coherent intent to the entire company; we’re a bunch of people trying to work together even though we don’t always agree. No individual person is trying to be evil. Sometimes we screw up, though.

So yea, I’m pissed off, and can’t keep quiet. And actually, as some have asked, there is a lot more to these stories that you’ll only here about over a beer. If you only know me by this post, perhaps you’re surprised to hear that I’m usually known as a mediator, diplomatically open to all sides of an issue, generally a nice guy who just wants to map the world. And in case it wasn’t obviously clear, this all is my personal opinion. Another aspect of our open world is our multiple public representations, and I wasn’t speaking for the OSM Foundation, Humanitarian OSM Team, or GroundTruth. And yes, the OpenStreetMap community has a reputation for being “caustic”, which is based on a very small segment of our community, mostly the osm-talk list. Anyone who has ever attended State of the Map, gone to a pub meet, contributed to a HOT response, posted to nearly any other list, will have a different impression.

Finally, I regret to say that Unosat got caught in the cross-fire of this post. Unosat has an evolving cooperation with many entities, including HOT, where we have been given access to imagery in Japan and Liberia. While I find fault with their Google MapMaker cooperation, they aren’t giving Google any data, rather using Google data. They are well versed in the details of open data, of licensing, and are wise to explore opportunities equally. They’ve generously explored how they can work together with OSM, most recently in Japan and I look forward to more.

We Need to Stop Google’s Exploitation of Open Communities

Google’s strategy is to build market in Africa by appropriating the appearance of open data community methodologies, yet maintaining corporate control of what should rightfully be a common resource. They are specifically targetting govts and NGOs, offering to “map their country for free”, but keeping the results, and attracting customers.

What bothers me so much is how they have blatantly copied OpenStreetMap. First their MapMaker product is directly modelled on OSM, but with a restrictive data license, where you can not use the data as you see fit. Second, they have stolen the idea of Mapping Parties, a unique concept and name we developed. Third, they’re even copying initiatives to map impoverished informal settlements, like Map Kibera.

All of this with no credit, and no shame. I’m sick of Google. What can we do?

I’ve tried to stay civil with them, through years of this kinda stuff. I’m friends with many googly Googlers. But I don’t see cooperating or being quiet helping at all. They’re deceptive and need to be stopped.

Seriously, Google claimed to map “the largest slum in Africa”, with “citizen cartographers”. They’re building their business by glorifying half-baked “community” mapping initiatives, promoting their brand on the back of poverty.

I totally get why African governments and techies are excited about Google. Their moves in Africa are going to help build up the market for everyone. What is horrible is the hidden dangerous bargain they’re offering. To most people, Google is not just a company, but a force for good in the world. They even forget its a business, with so much done for “free”. But remember, it’s an extremely lucrative business, and they reason they don’t participate in OpenStreetMap, like every other major internet company (AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo…), is because it doesn’t make sense for their bottom line. They see value in owning your data. They’re moving to own the data of communities and governments in Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia. They can do whatever they like with the data, they own it. Of course, they will eventually take advantage of that. Scratch eventually, they changed the terms on Friday, so you have to pay to opt out of GMaps API advertising.

Corporations should not be the stewards of a public resource, and a potentially controversial public resource. Compare Gaza in OpenStreetMap and Gaza in Google for just one example of why this is a bad idea. We’re approaching a situation where a corporation is becoming the decision maker on international borders. Wait, did you think the UN or other international forum was supposed to have some role in these kind of things? Nope, Google is getting UN data too.

Internet, now’s the time to get pissed.

OpenStreetMap and Transport, presentation to the World Bank Transport Forum

Kate Chapman and I were invited to speak at the World Bank Transport Forum, on OpenStreetMap and Transport and ICT … which is great, cause I’m a transport geek (honestly disappointed I missed an earlier session on “Best Practices in Railways”), a long time bicycle advocate (what after yesterday I know as “non-motorized transport”), and there’s many many cool projects in OpenStreetMap.

I gave this presentation, with kudos to osm-talk for pitching in.

Went over pretty well, despite being introduced as an anarchist. Actually, it went really well, and I have a stack of biz cards to follow up on at the World Bank.

My fellow panelists were Eddie from OpenGeo, talking particularly about their work with TriMet and Jon from Ushahidi, talking a bit about an interesting upcoming bicycle project in China. New to us was Todos Somos Dateros, a really interesting citizen engagement in Lima around transport data and feedback, with an overlapping approach to some parts of Map Kibera.

The other half of the day was also at the World Bank, at ICT Days. The session I caught featured guys from,, Sunshine Foundation, government guys from Singapore and Korea. The key takeaway for me … its a small step for capable governments to open data, but to become open governments means true participation, and that’s not something government can ever do alone, except in the already most responsive and representative governments. For us, that means community technology development, to strengthen citizens and civil society.

Finally, of course the Bank had nice Wine and Cheese. Heard there about an upcoming Water Hackaton back in Nairobi, which fits nicely with ongoing work in Mathare, and older projects like WaterWiki.

cross-posted to GroundTruth Initiative Blog


Back in September, I was invited to Kosovo, to speak at the Software Freedom Conference. It was an honor for me to come to this troubled region where so much good work was happening in open source. And it was the ideal moment to gather long brewing thoughts on the political lens of open source and particularly OpenStreetMap, and on the incredible road trip I had just taken with Erica through the former Yugoslavia.

My talk was “neo-geo-politics, the impact and issues of open source and open data on political crisis, borders, disputes, and marginal places”

The talk runs with the basic premise that the complexity of international political organization in nation-states has inherent problems and faces increasing strain (as seen now in North Africa and the Middle East) and that new conceptualizations of how we relate to each other can be explored through open source community ideas (and its progeny in open knowledge, open data…). This is made particularly clear when talking about the new power structures in geographic data and technology, and provides a better intuitive guide as individuals are increasingly atomized and the narratives of consumption vs citizenship grow more difficult to properly separate.

Enough babbling … my slides and video …

Video of my talk on neo-geo-politics from Software Freedom Kosovo

Systematic Injustice

I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to raise our predicament publicly, but an injustice has been done. I must try all avenues available to right this situation. If after reading this, you have any ideas on how to proceed, please get in touch.

One of our partcipants, Zacharia Wambua, applied for and received a travel scholarship to attend the ICTD Conference next month at Royal Holloway, University of London. Zack is one of our brightest mappers, and shows great promise to take on this work as a career (Zack is standing to the right of US Ambassador to Kenya Ranneberger in this picture). The conference was going to be an opportunity for him to network, especially with UK universities, and take part in our panel focused on citizen mapping and media projects. He was to be joined by fellow mapper, Douglas Namale. For Zack, this would be his first time traveling outside Kenya, and I’m sure a life changing experience for a highly intelligent young man from Kibera.

As required, Zack submitted an application for a business visa (ref NAIROBI\323731), and took great care to fill out the application honestly and comprehensively. Yesterday, he received noticed that he was refused entry, with no opportunity to appeal. The decision gives no weight to our organization, the Map Kibera Trust, and draws attention to Zack’s economic situation as the primary evidence for the decision that, in the view of the UK Border Agency, Zack is not genuinely seeking to attend this conference.

To me, this is a deep systematic failure, based on probabilities. Zack is impoverished, it’s true. But he is working very hard to improve himself and situation, partly through participating in our programs. Despite having very little financial ties, or having family with a bank account, he is in fact very tied to his family, church and community. I’m not sure how you are supposed to show evidence of strong relationships to your family in a visa application. Zack is volunteering with a program, that among other things, has been featured on the BBC, is the subject of a DFID funded and UK university led research program, and he’s been invited to a prestigious conference organized by UNESCO and the University of London, that focuses on social and economic development through technology. Yet he is denied entry by the UK Border Agency. This is a terrible contradiction.

Frankly, if being poor is a barrier to taking part in these kind of activities, then the intentions of the entire conference, the work of DFID, etc, are completely negated.

We understand that an incorrect decision could have been made. However, Zack has been denied the right of appeal, the right to an interview, and the right for his supporters to speak on his behalf. Therefore, I ask, if there’s anything you can see we can do in this situation that could lead to a change of decision, we’d greatly appreciate the advice and action.

Technology, Hype, Marginalization

A little meandering on how hype and closed systems threaten to overwhelm all our good intentions…

Yesterday, I visited Mukuru slum (still a blank spot on the map) to discuss possible collaborations and methodology sharing with an ongoing participatory mapping project there coordinated by Emory University and Partnership for an HIV Free Generation, at a well apportioned community site built by Micato Safaris.

Mukuru has developed on different lines than Kibera … the road infrastructure is relatively planned, there are designed gutters, the area is flat and sprawling over a huge area south of the Industrial Area. It also receives less attention than Kibera, so there are relatively less NGO and CBO programs trying to fill the service gap. The Mukuru group has used many interesting participatory techniques to engage the community, some based in the work of Robert Chambers, who we met last week at Erica’s IDS talk on Map Kibera (and told us a brief and awesome story of his mugging in 1960s Kibera while rock climbing). Particularly, the group there had undertaken a “community asset mapping” in two villages of Mukuru, a paper based cataloging of community services, with actual GPS mapping done by a consulting company, resulting in a few map prints and spreadsheets detailing services. The resulting data is good, but they complained that it’s not really reusable or updatable by the team directly. So they were very interested to hear about our techniques which both built capacity to create and make use of map data, and other kinds of information, directly … they can do it themselves, have lots of ideas for applications in the community, and perhaps soon we’ll have an opportunity to explore some merging of methods.

On Tuesday, I met with Umande Trust, who do amazing and innovative work in sanitation, best known for introducing biogas latrines to Kibera. I talked with Aidah mostly about data … we have data from our recent water and sanitation mapping, Umande has amazing data in Gatwekera and adjacent villages, exact locations of many standpipes, toilets; and water piping installed by Nairobi Water.

But also we talked about their programs generally. In an innovative compromise to the usual policy of simply ripping out illegal pipe connections in slums, Umande has worked with Nairobi Water for installation of master meters for the entire area, and may work to dialogue directly with the community about how to legitimize and make secure the entire system, in a way that works for everyone. They are also discussing the installation of proper sewerage, partially to help with the volume of waste in the biocentres. Turns out too many people are using the biogas latrines for the decomposition process to fully digest the waste, an example of the challenges of when innovation meets reality.

Umande has also done community asset mapping of the entirety of Mukuru, by actually training community member on GPS … those individuals and that data could be a great start to further work in Mukuru. Of course we need the data shared. I was delightfully surprised and also shocked that I hadn’t seen these maps before. But realize, this is not due to any intent of Umande, Aidah is very willing to share the data for reuse if only there were an infrastructure to use. I’m interested to build off the Digital Gazette, an integration of Crabgrass and GeoCommons for use in Northwest Pakistan, to help build up the information commons of the slums.

So, on Monday, I attended a Nike Foundation event to discuss innovative use of technology to assist young girls. This is something Map Kibera has focused on through our association with Unicef, and the Nike team were very interested to learn and listen, kudos. One point during the presentation touched on Pamoja Mtaani a video game developed by Time Warner that conveys messages about HIV/AIDS prevention. As chance would have it, I got to see Pamoja Mtaani in action directly in Mukuru.

Before our meeting started yesterday, I was given a tour of one of two centers built in Mukuru to “host the game”. My jaw dropped as we entered a spacious room, with 20 gleaming computers showing Pamoja Mtaani. The game looks pretty well designed and fun, definitely innovative and not overly didactic … the game starts with a matatu robbery, includes graffiti and MC games, runs through a virtual Nairobi … a kinda slum version of Oregon Trail.

What struck me cold was that most of the computers were unused, and were completely locked down to only run this game. Here was a resource that any school anywhere in the world could use well, and Time Warner only permits their game, a game that you also can not download and run freely. Frankly, an idiotic implementation of a good initiative, and somehow emblematic of many things wrong with the inappropriateness technology in development. I can understand the desire to make sure the game is actually played, rather than just giving away computers for kids to check Facebook (of course that would happen) … but you do that through a well designed program and continual involvement rather than locking away all the other potentials of this computing resource.

Now we could make pretty good use of those computers for mapping in Mukuru. As it is they are useless for anything else.

At the other end of the spectrum, a few days before, I was reminded of the Hole in the Wall computer project, when Tanya Notley asked me my impression of this TED Talk on education innovation in the slums. The Hole in the Wall computer, simply an open kiosk installed in the middle of the slum, open for children to experiment on without restriction, is one of my favorites. The radical experimentation here has been widely celebrated and hyped, including in that TED Talk.

Now someone recently went back to actually visit these Hole in the Wall computers. The program had change considerably. Wonderfully, there are many more computers in the slums … but they are not the unrestricted free for all the original program experimented with. Apparently those original computers quickly stopped functioning, and the program now looks like a more traditional digital village, with computers, internet, and programs to use them. There’s still space for exploration, but not without supervision.

So in response to Charles Leadbeater, I wrote Tanya..

I broadly believe in what he’s saying, but the talk is pretty hand wavy. The critique of our education system is not new, and plenty of examples of experiments from the past 50 years abound. Certainly there is innovation in education happening in marginalized areas, enabled by new technology, access, and approach … we see ourselves fitting this movement quite well. What’s more difficult is to see how informal education will connect with the existing models … which are still essential for legitimacy and maximum opportunity for all. We’d like to see the opportunity for mappers to continue studies in GIS if they are keen, and several are, but there is no consistent financial aid here. Seems to me that there’s a need to still engage with traditional institutions, open up the way they approach education.

So maybe after some more research, he’ll have some insights! For one, he needs to ground check his facts … just yesterday I read that the hole-in-the-wall computers more or less stopped working 3 months in, and they’ve now adopted a more traditional approach. I still love the audacity and thought provoking of that project, but too often in innovation (and generally) we’re hiding the failures and not learning.

Perhaps one of the hardest lessons I’ve been learning is the limits of innovation. Map Kibera is innovative, and it’s much hyped, but is it in danger of being another project that only looks good from afar? To really make an impact with technology, is requires far more than simply doing something new. It takes a lot of work which you might think is boring, lots of discussion, lots of program design, lots of failure and revision, lots of reality. There are limits beyond simply getting computers and internet into marginal places, limits beyond training, that have to do with the dense interconnection of all issues facing our increasingly urban and marginal world. The shiny glean of technology starts things off, but after that the work may be the same as ever … learning from each other, respecting different points of view, long negotiations of how things can change for the better.

Freedom and Restrictions in Open Data

Very interesting situation developed last month within the Russian community of OpenStreetMap. It is illegal to map the location of military facilities in Russia. In fact, a permit is required to do any mapping. The Russian community started a vote (well, in practice and discussion, a non-binding poll) on whether military installations should be removed from the Russian map, to protect the safety of the local community.

Response from the international community was that any mapper has the choice to map whatever they like, especially if it physically exists. Deleting someone else’s data would be against core principals of OSM, of open data.

As Frederik states, this puts us in an ideological paradox

With Russia we now seem to have a case where it is possible that a
majority of the local community decides to work differently from the
principles that we have grown to cherish, namely letting everyone map
what the hell they want. We now have people who not only want to keep
certain things out of the map, but even delete these objects where they
have been mapped by others. It is even possible that they form an OSMF
chapter supporting these actions.

If this happens, then we have a clash of two principles. Either we say
that the principle of subsidiarity overrides the “freedom to tag”,
allowing the Russians to restrict that freedom in their area because it
is, after all, their area; or we say that the “freedom to tag” is the
overriding principle and we will not tolerate any local community to
tell us outsiders how they would like to be mapped.

This could have repercussions for mapping in many restrictive authoritarian regimes. It’s my position that for the vast majority of cases, open data is better and the default, and in fact, makes us more secure and informed. This was one critique of our mapping in Gaza, that showing details of Gaza would make Gazans more vulnerable. Fortunately, Gazans also agree that information is all about changing perception.

In general, I view these edge cases as a question of power. Hiding information protects those already in power, but not those that are already marginalized. Legitimate cases to me is only information that puts dis-empowered people at risk, such as refugee routes along the Burmese-Indian border. But does this mean I would remove those tracks if someone added to OpenStreetMap? This and other questions remain to be answered.

Weaver House Still Mapped Properly Only on OpenStreetMap

I’m still amazed that three years after I dug into the history of Weaver House, just when the whole area was being dug into and the East London Line has opened, that only OpenStreetMap is up to date with the massive changes there. Compare OSM with Google and Ordnance Survey.

pedley 026

Look forward to trying it out in person next month, when Erica and I are in the UK (from June 17-24). Erica will be giving a talk on Map Kibera at my alta mater, University of Sussex.

Haiti, Mission 2

Nicolas Chavent and Dane Springmeyer are now on Haitian soil for HOT.

It was just a few weeks ago that Nicolas and Robert returned from the first HOT mission to Haiti. Nicolas had the immediate conclusion … we have to go back. Something amazing was started with OSM and an interesting cross section of CNIGS (the Haitian national mapping agency), the UN, and civil society. The work had to be seen through, and Nicolas is dedicated for the long term. He’s joined now by Dane, adventurous and incredibly skilled technically. Can’t wait to see what develops this trip, and immensely proud that OSM is again on the ground in Haiti.

Our greatest thanks go to the World Bank, and especially the Disaster Risk Management group. They are funding this mission, and the next in June. Besides continuing to support the Haitian government in recovering from the quake, the Bank is particularly interested in how OSM can be used in future risk assessment, particularly vulnerable buildings. This mission in Haiti will continue the discussion.

As HOT is still a developing entity, we are also thankful to OpenGeo for providing a vehicle to move so quickly, and to MapAction for sharing their view on assessing risk and insurance.

HOT’s work in Haiti is all about continuing the open environment of sharing that developed in the immediate response to the quake. In dedication to that openness, and give a small taste of what it takes to go to Haiti, here is the instruction sent by Nicolas to Dane for guidance on his arrival in Port au Prince. I haven’t seen anything like this practical advice posted online before, so here it is.

* Airport International Toussaint Louverture
Functional kaos where
** you’ll be brought to terminal via a van,
** you’ll pass one counter (medic I think),
** Baggage pick up: baggage will brought to the baggage pick up area from the plane by the Airport personnels (all is handled by hands). In principle the baggage pick up area is restricted to airport personnels only & you are supposed to raise their attention to get your luggage. French for this will He ce bagage (look-up in dictionary for baggage items which are not backpack/ SAC A DOS or suitcase/ VALISE & COLORS, so that you can designate your pieces). Things in practice are more fluid: I managed like many others Haitian to get my stuff personally at the cost of not building friendship which is ok.
** Call Fred (glad you’ll have your IPhone; feel free to borrow a mobile from a foreigner) to check with him how the pick up is organized & follow instructions
** Customs: no problem for Westerners-
** Open fenced area outside of the terminal building: this is where that I waited for the driver in mission 1, driver will bear an A4 sheet with your details
** In case the pick-up went wrong & Fred phone is un-responsive::
*** Do not exit the airport area unless you are with a Westerner in a car who will drop you at the main entry of the UN Logistics Base (LogBase). Prepare for the unlikely to happen worst case scenario (no pickup) while you are on plane and/ or through the baggage collection process and identify Westerners working in LogBase or in PAP who could offer you a lift to LogBase. This could be the only option for you to exit the Airport in a car with Westerner.
*** If no westerner, no car, no dirver, then stay at the airport and be hyper patient and calm until pick up finally comes or that I arrive and I hope we will get things sorted out.

* LogBase (CC)
** both IOM & WFP are located in the UN Logistic Base (LogBase) which is lierally at the end of the runway of the international airport Toussaint Louverture. LogBase is a separate spatial entity from the public international airport which is under the control of the various national air forces of the MINUSTAH (the UN peace keeping mission in Haiti) & consequently you access it from a secured entry point relatively open to Westerners furnished with IDs.
** Access (main & only entry point) you’ll have to mention that you are working with OSM and supporting the GIS (SIG & CARTOGRAPHIE) unit of the Registration (ENREGISTREMENT) Department of IOM (OIM – Office International res Migrations) and
*** refer to the GIS Officer/Coordinator of this unit who should have sent an email warning them of our coming. MINUSTAH people at the Gate never read emails (but never admit it), so this generates issues and you have to stand firm and say that you are here to work with IOM and that you must make it to the IOM Office in LogBase to get started and directed to the CampCharlie where you’ll be lodging for the rest of the trip
*** if IOM is not impressive enough, then make the name of WFP (the Head of Programes in WFP and a friend).
*** Again if this is not working, wait at the gate with the guard being calm patient and resolute. This area is safe security-wise so a good place to wait, there should be shade. Furnish you with water bottle from the plane or ask the gards to help you buying water or soda-

* Camp Charlie (CC)-
This is the name of a UN Peace Keeping Mission camp In Haiti where a Danish Hum organization set up a humanitarian camp (all in tents WC, Showers, Kitchen, Dining spaces, lobbies & cubic – the name under which your tent place is designated) where we will be staying. You’ll reach CC from LB there is a shuttle system put up in place between LogBase and Camp Charlie. It’s minimal on Sunday and it’s likely that we will be relying on a car and reach CC with Fred-

* Mobile phone.
I am not 100% sure I”ll manage to get my phone in my commute (train to airport) in Paris since the friend who as it as well as my ext hard drive is likely to be at the maternity welcoming a child… So your iphone (if a SIM card can be loaded in can do good, alternatively if you have an old mobile close to be trashed but functional enough to do text messages & talking it would be worthy to have it with you).

Before 2010, State of the Map Scholarships 2009

The State of the Map Scholarship program’s wider objective is to support nascent OpenStreetMap communities by building connections and exposing ideas. The application process is in full swing for 2010, so it’s a good time to look back at the effect 2009 has had on participants. It’s also required as a final report for OSI!

Following SOTM 2009, I took a look forward at what could start to happen. The kinds of things in mind were GPS loans (GPS are still hard to come by and expensive in some places), mapping in marginal and conflict areas, access to satellite imagery, localisation of software and tiles, organization of local chapters, and promotional activities. We also had funds for select follow up activities with some of the participants, to build on promising leads in these areas. Everyone invited in 2009 is still very involved in OpenStreetMap, probably more so … these are true believers. Like Arlindo says, “I don’t think on OpenStreetMap as a hobby anymore” … it’s more of a way of life.

Local chapters made progress. Well, the Foundation is still working to come up with a legal agreement that will work in jurisdictions across the globe (just a little complicated), but that hasn’t stopped local groups from formalizing anyhow. Khan Le has helped form a Vietnam OSGeo local chapter (which can also work as an OSM local chapter), as well as holding mapping parties in Hanoi and Saigon. Fredy Rivera in Columbia used part of his follow up funds to establish a Columbia OSM chapter. Backed by the follow up funds, I actually pushed Latin America as a whole to come together as a chapter, considering the small communities last year, but it was harder to coordinate the decision making at this scale; things have grown anyhow, and along more national lines.

Giorgi was able to take part in a massive local push, by joining the Open Maps Caucasus initiative. He met Jeff Haack at SOTM, the coordinator for the OMC project with JumpStart International. They started there in some of the conflict affected regions in the recent Georgia-Russia conflict.

Abdel in Cairo is sees SOTM 2009 as a key instrument for moving forward in Egypt and may have more to say soon on plans there.

In Cuba, PB kept things moving well despite difficulties like the illegality of GPS, and a failed attempt to get spare servers from Wikimedia (illegal to distribute from the US). He used his follow up funds to attend an SDI meeting in Panama and wave the flag for open data. OSM is increasingly being seen as a core component in national scale Spatial Data Infrastructures in many countries, and PB’s work in Panama made a great push on this issue.

Everyone still sites the major need for GPS units. Brazil used its follow up funds for a GPS loan program, and just distributed the first of the units. Julio in Chile used funds to purchase GPS units also but within the dire emergency of the Chilean earthquake. Despite the difficult times there, OSM has continued strongly. Columbia has also been contributing to the relief effort in Chile, and Haiti.

Pushing for cross border collaborations doesn’t necessarily work. Though everyone gets along wonderfully, OSM is still seen often through nation state boundaries. So as in Latin America, the same in the even trickier relationship between India and Pakistan. Professor Rai in Ludhiana has done amazing work, including an impactful effort to map the enterity of Gill village. Across the border, in Multan, Professor Rasul has been pushing ahead in the pursuit of open mapping. The follow up grants to them were meant to both strengthen their own programs, and encourage them to collaborate across that difficult border, as both lie within the former region known collectively as Punjab. Map Punjab is intended to be a site with localizations, in both language, national borders, and historic borders, as well as a point of technical and social collaboration. So far, it hasn’t materialized. Some things take longer to brew.

Elsewhere in India, Arun Ganesh does lament the long gestation of OpenStreetMap in India, though his strategy to increase visibility seems wise. Rather than focus on open data in the extract, he’s producing beautiful maps, especially of transit systems, that are only now possible with OSM data. Nic Roets is taking a similar tack in South Africa cooperating on mapping World Cup venues. Finally, Ciprian in Romania is collaborating with companies using OpenStreetMap.

So, different stories all over, but the same core story is individuals energized by the experience of SOTM, growing OSM naturally and with purpose. Can’t wait to see what’s next, and especially who’s coming in 2010, and what might develop from there.