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  • Ingrid Martha Kintu, Makerere University

SOTM-US 2017: A conference to remember

The State of the Map US conference which was held in Boulder, Colorado, was the 7th of its kind with very many people coming in from different parts of the world to share their work using OpenStreetMap (OSM). The three day conference was held from the 20th October 2017 at the University of Colorado. It had an extensive program which included talks, workshops, hacking, mapping parties and meetings, all about OSM. Different fields were tackled ranging from tools and analyses all the way to education, humanitarian and government applications. It was a wonderful opportunity and I would specially like to thank YouthMappers and the SOTM-US team for facilitating my opportunity to attend.

The first day of the conference involved a registration process for all attendees which was done by a very friendly and hospitable SOTM team. There was no mistaking the excitement that brimmed from everyone as they prepared to get a badge, T-shirt, and then find a seat for the start of the program. I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that no one was prepared for the staggering view of the magnificent Rocky Mountains from the conference hall and not to mention the university itself. As soon as everyone was settled in, the conference started with an inspirational keynote speech from Christopher J. Loria, Astronaut and Colonel, US Marine Corps (Retired), in which he talked about collaborative leadership and innovation. He applauded the diversity of OSM and the excellence of results it has yielded. Another pleasant and enlightening keynote speech was given by the Ms. Emili Jacobi on "Map making, OSM and the urgency of now" on the second day of the conference.

PhotoCredit: OpenStreetMap US

The whole conference was a well of knowledge as the days were filled with interesting speaking sessions, lightning talks, and birds of a feather sessions from members of the OSM community. Exhibitions were also held outside the conference halls and these were very informative. Of particular interest were the talks from Mr. Matt Berg on "OSM Checkins for Malaria Eradication", "Mapcampaigner: Future of field mapping" by Mr. Tyler Radford, "State of the Map Africa" by Mr. Geoffrey Kateregga, the "HOT export too"l by Miss. Mhairi O’Hara, "OpenAerialMap loves OpenStreetMap" by Mr. Nate Smith, "OpenDroneMap" by Mr. Dakota Benjamin and "Mapping Alaska, mapping change" by Miss. Vanessa Raymond among others.

PhotoCredit: OpenStreetMap US

The final day of the conference was all about applying what had been learned in the previous days of talks during the long-form workshops, collaborative coding, and meetings with OpenStreetMappers from around the world. In addition to these, there were other workshops that occurred throughout the day. Being the only YouthMapper from Uganda who attended the conference, I made a presentation on YouthMappers contribution to building community resilience. It focused on how the Geoyouthmappers chapter in Makerere University is using Geomatics tools such as OSM to address the refugee crisis in Northern Uganda.

The conference also had very many interesting social activities such as the welcoming social event for all attendees at FATE Brewing, the “satellite selfie”, the group photo, the reception at rooftop terrace at Folsom field were snacks, beer and wine were served and happy hour at Sanita’s Brewing which was sponsored by Mapbox and Development Seed.

PhotoCredit: OpenStreetMap US

The conference was a very interesting one from which a lot was learned and important connections made. Not only did it bring mappers from all over the word together but also enabled them to share their work.

Ingrid Martha Kintu is a final year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Land Surveying and Geomatics at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. She is affiliated with the GeoYouthMappers chapter at the university for which she is the vice president. In her free time, she trains people in the use of OSM tools. She loves organizing and participating in any activity that involves mapping for humanitarian causes.

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