top of page
  • Jorge Ituarte-Arreola & Ryan Thomas

From Texas, USA to Yogyakarta, Indonesia

LBK to JOG: Lubbock - Yogyakarta

Taking full advantage of our 2017 Spring Break, we travelled to Yogyakarta, Indonesia where we were given the humbling opportunity to teach students how to refine and make maps of their region using open source data. We capitalized on the efforts already made through the HOT OSM, or Humanitarian OpenStreetMap, tasks already active in Indonesia.

The focus was directed towards Mount Sinabung, Task #750, an active stratovolcano in Indonesia’s North Sumatra Province, where USAID GeoCenter and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance sought to improve existing infrastructure data; particularly buildings, roads, and inland water features. These features are important as they depict areas subject to volcanic and seismic activity which can be catastrophic in neighboring villages. We were privileged to work with well-versed Indonesian colleagues at the University of Gadjah Mada.

The majority of these students were Cartography and Remote Sensing majors, who took well to the OSM and JOSM platforms during instruction. We worked in close coordination with their university’s Geography Study Club, who aided by hosting our venue and recruiting and translating at the event. These students helped showed express interest in establishing a local YouthMappers chapter at their university.



Mount Sinabung is an active stratovolcano that has had consistent activity since 2010. The volcano poses a significant risk to those living in close proximity. Recent activity includes eruptions in 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2016. Since the volcano recent activity, at least 20 people have been killed. Berastagi and Kabanjahe are two cities relatively close to Mt. Sinabung which are part of Task #750. Locals report near-daily minor eruptions. Students of University of Gadjah Mada were able to create and improve existing infrastructure data, with a focus on tracing buildings, roads, and inland water features, for the USAID GeoCenter and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. Due to this recent reactivation of the stratovolcano, we were interested in further developing the mapping of the region of Berastagi and Kabanjahe in order to help local as well as local governments plan evacuation routes and exclusion zones.



Post event, we had the opportunity to interview the student leader of GCS, Risky Yanuar S. and he was able to give us valuable insight on the current situation in Indonesia and UGM.

How do you feel Open Source data will affect the ways we make maps during times of crisis?

“In such a crisis, chaotic, and emergency situation, data is significantly essential in need of fast response. The government must gather all possible data source to assess the field condition. This kind of open source data becomes one of the effective method to help finishing the task.”

What do you think people can do to expand their knowledge of resources like OpenStreetMap and open source data mapping? How does this relate to your school and YouthMappers?

“The only way to gain knowledge is by learning. In the context of OSM, this learning process actually can be done through simple net browsing. Our school in geography, specifically uses map as the basis of analysis. YouthMappers and its focus on web-GIS could provide a beneficial facility for us the students to directly learn and experience in map making process and its worldwide publication.”

You're ready to start a new chapter at UGM, what kind of tasks do you feel ready to take on?

"I think we can start from the basic task (i.e. Using OSM to map local region) which YouthMappers require. This can help us adapt to the newly membership in YouthMappers."

What kind of impact does it make, having people, especially students mapping their own local regions directly?

"The mapping activity could improve map making skill as one of the essential aspect that geography student should have. This mapping activity can also help the government to assess the existing condition in search of potential resource and potential problem simultaneously."

With high hopes, we are truly looking forward to UGM joining YouthMappers in the near future. Thanks to USAID, TTU, and YouthMappers for helping fund the traveling of this trip!

Editor's note: This exchange was supported by the YouthMappers Visiting Open Data Scholar Program, with funding by the US Agency for International Development. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Read more or learn how to apply here.

bottom of page