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  • John Todd, West Virginia University

Connectivity through Open Source Mapping

Updated: Jan 4, 2021

Hello everyone! My name is John Todd, I’m a senior at West Virginia University studying Geography anf International Relations and I have been working as an intern with USAID over the past semester. I have been involved with my university’s YouthMappers chapter for two years and have found my experiences with this organization invaluable to my education.

Something that is always stressed to us as Geography students is the unique perspective that comes from viewing the world in terms of connections to space as well as connections made through space.The use of Open Source software and especially software like Open Street Map helps to illuminate these spatial connections for users and the people affected by work built on this platform.

When the Maptime Morgantown started, before we were a YouthMappers chapter, we learned to use OSM, we planned to fill in the gaps in familiar places throughout our state. Through this process we were connecting with space in a unique way and contributing our existing knowledge to data that someone else could use to learn the places that we already knew. Additionally, it helped us to learn more about our homes and campuses while we learned a new technology. I believe this fostered a personal connection to familiar and unfamiliar places within our own communities as we had fun drawing polygons over businesses we know or places that we cherish.

As our chapter joined YouthMappers and shifted to international humanitarian aid projects we found new connections to be made. We became involved in efforts to help people across the world by using a technology that can provide data to treat illnesses or address natural disasters. We also did this alongside other groups and in mapathons connecting with others with a common goal to make a positive change for people. We have learned about new places and the way people live and work elsewhere.

YouthMappers gives the opportunity for people to make connetions within their chapters and across the worl by using an open source software to provide useful data to people in places around the world.

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