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  • Benedict Nartey, University of Cape Coast

A Tool to the World: JOSM and me

Updated: Jan 4, 2021

YouthMappers introduced me to a new form of mapping which was hassle free. Nothing is more exciting than to be able to overcome a complex task with ease and still be able to contribute to meaningful solutions. JOSM was like my ice cream that did not require me to share with anyone for a couple of hours. And that to me is the thrust for a take-off in the mapping world, mapping opened to the streets. Mapping to save a life was my motivation to join YouthMappers. Taking a cue from my mother who is a midwife: She not only saved lives but put smiles on the faces of countless people. I hope that my effort with YouthMappers would help put broad smiles on the faces of millions of people around the world.

As a GIS student of the Department of Geography and Regional Planning, University of Cape Coast, it has been a challenging task to apply the GIS skills to any field of study. The use of JOSM has been a shooting star to the target of mapping in the framework in which it is presented. The edit tools are more user friendly and that even makes mapping more interesting.

Our Mapathon, the event that brought all YouthMapppers of UCC chapter, together on Saturday 19th November, 2016 to “devour a task like army worms devouring a farm” through mapping out the entire of Tolon area in less than 5 hours. Spearheaded by the coordinator, Mr James Kweku Eshun, who moved mountains to make this day possible. His able assistant Kwame Odame was also relentless in his effort to keep the YouthMapppers on their toes and poised for the task ahead. The eve of the mapathon unfolded with a series of talks, and some further training, of which I also contributed to, in order to get every participant ready for the Mapathon, especially new mappers.

An estimated 700 students attended the GeoWeek lecture at UCC.


The day started with the mappers converging at the Large Lecture Theatre as the organisers were preparing the venue for the mappers. The youth mappers were enthused to start a whole day of mapping. It started at exactly 10:30am and the task was the Tolon area. The task was quite challenging but the YouthMapppers welcomed the challenge. The Tolon area is a small town in the northern part of Ghana. What made it challenging was the foot paths that were unplanned and numerous as people create them as and when it was convenient to their needs. After about two and a half hours of intense mapping, the session went on recess to de-stress and get some snacks for about 45 minutes. We returned to continue the event till about 3.00 pm. Well, the mapathon had ended on a very good note. Students were happy to be part of this year’s mapathon event and were looking forward to even a bigger one soon. We as facilitators enjoyed our time with the YouthMapppers.

My Experience

Youthmappers has elevated my experience in mapping to a higher level. Mapping to make an impact and change the world positively. Using the JOSM tools for editing fascinates me. It makes the use of vector data so important and meaningful. The practicality of solving real life problems with simple tools and a set of points, lines and polygons which creates meaning to its users such that, a life is made better. The mapathon challenge was a day of intense mapping experience while the impact of the competition which involving a large number of students participating was an experience to live with. I was part of the supervisors, whom were to assist the participants in mapping out the Tolon area. It was a really exciting experience to get to interact with many fellow students and help out in any way I could to ensure mapping of the area was completed. The challenge was exciting and the coordinators were motivated by the numbers that showed up in spite of the exams month right around the corner. This was all in an effort to make Tolon a place of easy access in the wake of the negative unknown. JOSM has dissolved the mystery that engulfs mapping and shining light to the unknown in GIS mapping.

Therefore, I would say bravo to UCC YouthMapppers and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, for the tools that saves life and bring people together.

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