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  • Thomas Updike, The Pennsylvania State University

A YouthMappers' Beginner Guide to iD Editor


Hi everyone! My name is Thomas Updike, and during my last semester of college, I was a virtual intern with the USAID GeoCenter and YouthMappers. My major was Geography (B.S.) with a minor in GIS from Pennsylvania State University. Over the course of this semester, it has been amazing to work with the USAID GeoCenter and YouthMappers. My experiences have shown me how diverse and enriching the world of open-source mapping can be, whether it is done in the hands of students or professionals. As part of my internship, I have created a video tutorial which I hope will provide some clarity for current or potential YouthMappers to get started with the iD Editor. I understand the HOT Tasking Manager can be confusing with a lot of different icons and tools to use, but hopefully, by watching the video tutorial I have created you can feel a bit more comfortable getting started with the iD Editor on the HOT Tasking Manager. Check out the video I have created:


As an intern this past semester, I was relatively new to mapping with the iD Editor. As a beginner, I had to familiarize myself with imagery offset, road labeling, and the useful shortcuts. However, I quickly learned that there are a variety of resources provided for beginner mappers. LearnOSM.org helped provide step-by-step instructions for topics like correcting for imagery offset and tagging buildings. Please check out this tutorial video by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team for more detailed instructions.


Eventually, I moved away from iD Editor and did all my mapping using the Java OpenStreetMap (JOSM) editor. This was due to how convenient some of the plugins were, such as Buildings or Fast Draw. To get started with JOSM, I recommend checking out this resource. You’ll be mapping large areas in no time if you get JOSM down!


For a beginner mapper, nothing will beat the convenience and simplicity of iD Editor. All you need is an internet connection and an OpenStreetMap account to get started. No downloads are necessary since it will run in your web browser. It is easy to select a task on the HOT Tasking Manager because there are a variety of filters to match your experience level. The Tasking Manager also lets you filter down to projects specifically created for YouthMappers students. Once you choose a project and click contribute, you will see how the area being mapped is broken into squares. This is important because it prevents people’s edits from occurring on the same square and duplicate features from being created. By choosing an individual square you are selecting an area of the map to edit. See below an image that represents how a task is broken into mapping squares.

Through my experiences with the HOT Tasking Manager and OpenStreetMap this semester, I have gained a newfound appreciation for the work that students and professionals around the world accomplish with the OpenStreetMap platform. One person my university chapter talked to was Tommy Charles a YouthMappers regional ambassador based in Sierra Leone. He opened my eyes to the solutions that open-source software like OpenStreetMap can provide for people who lack electricity. I hope that this post can help others get started with mapping using iD Editor because it is a powerful tool with the potential to change lives. Good luck and have fun mapping!