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  • Md. Manjurul Islam, Dhaka College

Special moments experienced at SOTM Asia

State of the Map Asia is an annual gathering of the mappers, GIS experts, mapping related organizations, national and international donor organizations from around the world, and Government representatives especially from Asian countries. It was a great pleasure for me to be the part of this conference. I would like to thank YouthMappers for giving me the opportunity to participate in this event. The various presentations focused on discussing important questions such as how open street map has contributed to various development sections, analyzing the current state of OpenStreetMap in Asian countries, how can open data can linked with government and NGOs, and the benefit of OpenStreetMap and its integrity.

This two-day long conference started with a pleasant and inspiring speech by Dr. Nama Raj Budlathiski, Executive director of Kathmandu Living Labs, and the host of the conference. The keynote speaker’s session, “Data /OSM data should be useable, useful and ultimately used”, was given by Dr. Lee Schwartz, Geographer of the United States at the United States Department of State. His quotations may be compared to the speech of American literary critic Emerson’s comment “Books are the best of things, well used….” in his great work The American Scholar. Here, Emerson glorifies the importance of good books for an American scholar on the other hand Dr. Lee glorifies the importance OSM data. He also gave importance to YouthMappers who have the power to change the future. Keynote speaker Kate Chapman, Chairperson of the OSM Foundation, and three distinguished speakers also glorified OSM and, in this conference, everyone understood how necessary the improvement of OSM is in Asian countries.

Sixteen country representatives presented their achievements, challenges, and possibilities of using OSM in their respective countries and how OSM is developing and contributing to the development of different sectors. There were some parallel sessions. I did not miss the presentation of Eugene Lisovskiy, CEO, MAPS.ME, a very enthusiastic man and a good presenter. He presented the dynamic changes of MAPS.ME with the support of OSM. Another important session was government panel discussion, during which, representatives discussed how each of their governments received and incorporated the use of OSM. Actually, for the flourishment and sustainability of OSM, it should be included in government policy. Then the long cherished session came, the YouthMappers session. As a YouthMappers fellow, it gives me pride to represent YouthMappers in this international conference. It was a group presentation of YouthMappers from Bangladesh and Nepal. This session opened with the pleasant voice of Maliha Binte Mohiuddin. In her opening speech, she gave a clear picture of YouthMappers, its moto, achievements, and possibilites. She focused on the YouthMappers Leadership Fellowship workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal in May 2017. Then my turn came and I discussed the contribution and collaboration of YouthMappers in Asia. We have only 8 chapters in Asia, but we have 77 university chapters in the world currently. It was a great opportunity for us to spread YouthMappers in Asia.

We found that their contribution is appreciated. They also received some recognition and award for their contribution in OpenStreetMap. We received questions and suggestions from the audience. Specially, Heather Leson, from International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, who appreciated us and inspired us. Eugene Lisovskiy, from MAPS.ME showed great interest in YouthMappers. In the Nepal earthquake session, we learned what actually happened in Nepal during the earthquake and how they overcame the situation and about the role of OSM. Nama Raj Budhathoki closed the conference with a speech and gave us great hope and set the expectation of dynamic spread of OpenStreetMap. This was an unforgettable event in my life.

Md. Manjurul Islam is in his final year of an English Master’s program at Dhaka College. He is very much interested in humanitarian work. In his free time, he participates in mapping activities and trying to contribute towards the development of the unprivileged.

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