Mappers Under One Roof: An Experience Story from YouthMappers
Wow! We are still in awe that we got to be a part of the HOT Summit 2019. Through this blog, we, a group of YouthMappers, present to you a tale of that unforgettable and wonderful event. Even though the amazing geospatial conference has ended, the memories are still alive. The HOT Summit is a conference organized by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and it brings together people from around the world working to make open geographic data available to improve the welfare of people living in vulnerable and disaster prone areas using OpenStreetMap (OSM). This year’s HOT summit took place on 19-20 September in Heidelberg Germany and brought together OSM enthusiasts from all around the world and other GIS users.
The General idea for the 2019 HOT Summit was about how our community can improve humanitarian mapping. We got to know about the latest technology being used to improve the ease, accessibility, and quality of our mapping. We also heard about the communities who are making mapping more gender and geographically inclusive, and more importantly, how we can produce the best quality map data for humanitarian and development purposes.
One of the highlights of the conference was that regardless of the place we inhabited, and the cultural differences we had; we felt united by the same objective, which is to improve the territory using OSM in projects and activities.
At the Summit this year, we, a group of young mappers from different parts of the world were at the conference, representing YouthMappers as winners of the Global YouthMappers Challenge 2019.
Erneste Ntakobangize from Rwanda YouthMappers,
Aman KC from Geomatics Engineering Students Association of Nepal (GESAN), Nepal
Diana Carolina Ortega Espinosa from GeoLAB YouthMappers UdeA, Colombia
Sawan Shariar from Dhaka College YouthMappers, Bangladesh
Confidence Kpodo from the UCC YouthMappers, Ghana
Michael Kaluba from the Good Mappers, Uganda
We presented in a session titled LET GIRLS MAP: YOUTHMAPPERS GROWING FEMALE OPEN DATA LEADERS where we shared the work that we have been doing since our chapters were established and spoke specifically about the challenges we faced during the execution of those works . The session’s primary theme was how we, as a group of youths, have been doing the work to include more female mappers in our activities and in positions of leadership.
Aman, from GESAN, discussed the lower number of female enrollment belonging from an Engineering background and how they have ensured female participation by securing pivotal positions for young women and organizing female-led Campaigns like LetGirlsLiterate.
Carolina, from GeoLab, shared about how the numbers of female mappers in their chapters have been growing each year and their female participation is more than 50% in 2019.
Confidence, from UCC YouthMappers, highlighted on the initiatives of her chapter to put in place for LetGirlsMap by hosting an all female training session and inviting professionals in the field to speak about directions and career guidance of a mapper.
Erneste, from Rwanda YouthMappers, presented about their initiation of Let’sHelpMySister2Map and how organizing monthly female competitions and awarding them has helped in increment of female mappers.
Michael, from Good Mappers, talked about how they have encouraged their female mappers through the existing female mappers such as Shamila of Hot Uganda and securing the top 3 positions of Chapter by female.
Sawan, from Dhaka College YouthMappers, presented belonging from ‘All Boys’ Chapter how they have ensured the female participation through a collaboration with organizations like OpenStreetMap Bangladesh Foundation.
Our presentation was very well received by the organizers, map users, and enthusiasts of OSM. We were appreciated for our ambitions and were also acknowledged for focusing on the possibilities and steps so far made for engaging females in open mapping. We were quite honored to hear that the future of mapping is really in good hands.
It was the space and the opportunity for world of OSM people to hear and understand the contributions of YouthMappers communities all around the world in mapping prone areas for humanitarian responses. We witnessed the appreciations from all people who attended the presentation, looking on how students avail their limited time for humanitarian activities, which inspired us more to get involved in mapping. We, as speakers, gained the opportunity to share our strengths in mapping, and also shared the challenges that we face in our daily OSM activities.
We had the opportunity to share experiences about our work, the projects around the use of OSM and the most relevant challenges during the breaks of the conference cycle but especially in the evening social event, we had an opportunity to meet other mappers and make networking to share experiences with other people. During the evening social event, many were interested in hearing what other people are doing in their work back home.
The activities of YouthMappers were also presented by one of the YouthMappers’ co founders working for the USAID GeoCenter. Chad Blevins presented the activities and participation of YouthMappers globally and the way forward to building a sustainable network thorough the YouthMappers Regional Ambassadors.
It has been a great opportunity to get engaged in humanitarian mapping and after a time, we got to experience the summit where humanitarian mappers from all around the world were under the same roof. We were even more thrived to be part of this world of open data by acquiring knowledge of the new open source tools and exchange ideas and experiences with other people passionate about these issues.
It was our first time in Germany, in Europe actually! We realized saying how this world is scaled down into a tiny village.It was the biggest platform we had ever received to present our talks and we can feel the confidence growth within us. Travelling to abroad, attending an international conference, representing our YouthMappers’ chapter and giving a talk was not something we had thought, a year ago. Thanks to YouthMappers and HOT, it is not just a thought anymore!
We are grateful to YouthMappers and HOT for organizing this challenge and providing us the opportunity to be a part of the summit. We are very much thankful to Jessica Bergmann from HOT Uganda and Marcella Zeballos from YouthMappers for helping and guiding us before we got to and throughout the Summit. We also express our sincere thanks to Dr. Patricia Solis, Chad Blevins and many others for making this experience that we will remember for a long long time.