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  • Patricia Solis and Humberto Yances

In Colombia, students win and the country wins

Three dozen students across five universities in Colombia joined forces to map tertiary roads in their country. It was a friendly competition, where winning teams received mapping tools and the top two mappers earned a trip to a project site for more training in field mapping.

Organized under the direction of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team leader Humberto Yances and hosted by the Universidad de los Andes Prof. Luis Sanchez, the series of events celebrated and contributed to an important moment in this nation's history. The same week of this mapping competition, Colombia celebrated the formalization of a peace process that put an end to civil conflict that had lasted more than 50 years.

Quality roads are essential for many aspects of development of a population, offering flexibility in mobility and exchange of goods and services. Impassable routes among the main roads and tertiary road systems can contribute to the marginalization and a lack of articulation with certain districts and municipalities, increasing the time and costs of trading and personal transportation, and limited access to markets or knowledge. For decades, some parts of the country have been characterized by neglect and little state presence. The Colombian government through the National Council for Economic and Social Policy has opened the possibility that the governors of these areas may request road construction. For this, they need first a digital inventory of all roads, particularly the tertiary ones that have not yet been mapped openly. Now thanks to the data being created by YouthMappers there, even tertiary road locations are now publicly accessible.

Astonishingly, the participants completed their remote mapping task assigned at 100%!

A total of 13 groups and 56 participants registered for the mapathon from five universities: University of Antioquia (6), University of La Guajira (4), Universidad de Los Andes (1), Universidad del Cauca (1) and The College of Environmental Science and Applications (1). In all, 35 OSM users participated, but of the 56 registered participants only 19 (34%) submitted their edits to the OSM database. There were some groups whose users failed to create their OSM user profiles and were therefore disqualified from the actual competition. The one group in which all registrants did participate was from Uniandes, followed by the group called "Bloque20" (4/6) from the University of Antioquia. They managed to have 40 users at the same time on the HOT Tasking Manager.

Remote participants took part too. Up to 16 nodes connected simultaneously from Ustream with over 80 unique views!

Participants working in groups edited 42,575 objects (76%), while the total of all individual participants edited 55,714 objects according to osm-contributor-stats. In all, 2,275 roads were created, of which 1,750 (77%) were created by participants registered in the competition. All edits were uploaded to the OSM database for a total of 204 changesets. A before and after graphic showing OpenStreetMap changes can be seen on OSM-Analytics.

Top Mappers were as follows:

1) Andres Pérez Brand, Universidad de Antioquia

2) Maia Figueroa Padilla, Universidad de Los Andes

3) Augusto ibarra, Universidad del Cauca

The top teams recorded a large number of edits:

1) Cartógrafos Uniandes, the YouthMappers chapter at Universidad de los Andes - 14,869 objects

2) Bloque20, Universidad de Antioquia - 10,189 objects

3) Scout_Mappers, Universidad del Cauca - 7,577 objects.

Congratulations to everyone! Stay tuned to hear from Andres and Maia about their fieldwork!

Want to join in? Experienced validators are needed and are welcome to contribute to finishing off the task validation.


Photos courtesy of Humberto Yances, Patricia Solís, and Nixon Arley Aristizábal Niño

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