From wednesday the 5th to Saturday the 22nd of September the Mapping Day Uganda team traveled across the country, visiting 5 universities. The sole goal was to introduce, explain and explore OpenStreetMap (OSM) with an aim to enlarge the focus on community mapping. The team drove from south to north and from east to west.
We go, we go
After leaving Uganda's biggest city and capital Kampala, the Gulu University was visited first. Gulu is probably known because of the "guluwalk" and the recent Kony 2012 campaign by Invisible Children. Despite all negative associations Gulu is an upcoming lively city in northern Uganda, counting approximately 146.000 residents and attracting many non governmental organisations (ngo's).see university map here
"In 2012 the American and Ugandan Red Cross started to accurately map Gulu and Lira cities onto Open Street Map. The map was created using crowd sourced mapping traced on satellite images donated by the US government, which were then tagged (street names, businesses and facilities names added) by local volunteers. The aim of the project was to improve disaster management." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulu
Specific information like the type of shop, the name of a restaurant, the provider of an ATM machine, opening hours, etc. is missing and can only be added by local people. With satellite imagery available and these recent activities by the American and Ugandan Red Cross, Gulu offered the Mapping team an interesting challenge: "How can we encourage students to volunteer and contribute to this project?"
Voluntary work is not so obvious in Uganda and probably also in other African countries, as it is in Western countries. Time is precious and maximum attention to the collection of a small wage where several family members depend on, is necessary. Without an allowance for transportation costs, lunch or a daily fee it is almost impossible to stimulate contribution to work in the interest of society.
The second stop was the Uganda Christian University (UCU) in Mbale. This town in Eastern Uganda is mainly known for Mount Elgon and therefore attracting many tourists and businesses. An estimated 86,642 people live in this town. Some parts of the district regularly experience mudslides caused by weather changes, deforestation and growth of population. Satellite imagery is available in high quality. Mapping work has been done by Dave W Farthing, researching disaster prevention in this area. see the university map here
The trip continues to the Mbarara University of Science and Technology. Mbarara is the fastest growing western town with a population of 102,926 people and 12 informal settlements.The town has good satellite imagery to work with. see university map here
The fourth University Uganda Pentecostal University is in Fort Portal. Fort Portal is a town in the west of Uganda's Kampala. In 2002, there were 40,993 inhabitants in Fort Portal. The town is situated in the middle of the Rwenzori Mountains, the Kibale Forest National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. The main sources of income are tourism and trade. see university map here
The fifth and final place to be visited was the Uganda Martyrs University in Nkozi. Nkozi is a town in central Uganda and situated along the Kampala-Masaka highway, approximately 88 kilometres, southwest of Kampala. The exact population of Nkozi is not known.The area has good satellite imagery what might help estimate the size of the town. see university map here
Universities are evenly spread across the country, have Internet facilities, a more reliable power supply and luckily, students. We visit 5 universities to map the campus and the surrounding neighbourhood and teach additional skills like
- understanding the GPS device,
- using the walking papers,
- digitalising their trails in OpenStreetMap and
- working with an editor that allows you to customize the map.
We got feed back from the students in three ways:
- through the physical map results by pointing out some of the features that had been mapped (each group had a chance to present),
- then the experiential feedback which came straight from the horse's mouth
- and lastly using flip chart notes, which triggered a discussion among the participants.
The overall outcome is that the university area is mapped on to openstreetmap(for the ones that were initially non-existent) and in much more detail(for those that had been mapped to some extent). Students add names of buildings, sport facilities, roads and their names, shops and much more features that can be found on their campus.
The students asked the team many critical questions like, for example:
"Why can't Googlemaps, OpenStreetMap and Wikimapia come together since they are doing the same thing?", "Why did you choose our University?" or more technically, "How can fibre optic cable be mapped to OpenStreetMap?", "How to measure the length of a polygon in JOSM?" and "How can we view features in OpenStreetMap in 3D?".
Of course not all students were up for the challenge of mapping their own environment but the majority were enthusiastic. They understand the idea behind the project, although the concept would have a greater impact if all commitment leads to better employment opportunities according to the students. The teachers see potential in the training material. The tool kit 'Making Sense of Openstreetmap' was used for the training and can be found at Learn OSM
The students and University staff were handed a Garmin Etrex 10 G.P.S device from Fruits of Thought, to be used by the students who would need to map and discover more. Hopefully we see OSM being updated by the students in they areas we have visited. We track students activity via their account on OSM to monitor uploads of traces and edits via this tool.
The mapping team plans to keep in touch with the students through email conversations and Facebook status updates. A follow-up meeting where the team travels to all universities is planned for later this year.
The travelling mappers are:
Douglas Musaazi and Ketty Adoch, the core team and probably Uganda's most dedicated mappers. They are both coordinators of the Mapping Day Project and get support from Joel Ongwech, Julius Iversion and Godfrey Kateregga who emerged as the most active participants during the Mapping Challenge 2012.
Back in November 2011, Loren Treisman Trust Executive of the Indigo Trust Foundation, visited our office to find out more about our mapping activities. By that time we had organized 4 Mapping Days with students, implemented one course based on the Learn OSM manuals and mapped together with the Makindye Division, one of the 5 divisions in Kampala (600.000 residents). Fruits of Thought got a grant from the Indigo Trust Foundation to visit five universities outside Kampala.
It was because of this corporation and our works in Namuwongo, a small informal settlement in Makindye, that we got a publication in the New Vision and we presented this case study and the detailed map of this area at TechFest, an annual science and technology festival showcasing Uganda's innovations.
Why are we doing this?
Most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive, or unexpected ways. Like, for example, off-line usage of the map when there is no connectivity or printing the map to be less dependent on an Internet connection or power supply.
Creating an open source map of Uganda is a big project. By engaging Ugandan students to join our mapping activities they extend their skill set and distinguish themselves from other students what increases chances of employment. On the other hand, mapping by communities improves the level of detail, solves the issue of outdated information and lowers the costs because of efficiency.
Indigo Trust Foundation supported our vision to establish a nationwide network of mappers.
Follow the Mappers in Uganda on
1st University "The Gulu University" report
2nd University "UCU Mbale" report
3rd University "Uganda Pentecostal University"
4th University "Mbarara University of Science and Technology"
5th University "Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi"