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  • Yessica De Los Ríos Olarte, University Antioquia

Highlighting On-Going YouthMappers Community Projects in LATAM


Using the edits ranking page filtered by country, I began to seek contact with experienced mappers in Colombia. In this way, I connected with people like Juan Carlos Melo Luna, a civil engineer and editor of geographic information at Kaart. Last year he began a collaborative project that aims to map the bike paths of Medellín and the Aburá Valley. Bike lanes are a cultural space in several cities in Colombia. Some roads are restricted for pedestrians, cyclists use them at specific times and days of the week.

Over time, these initiatives have become increasingly important as they are a community resource for recreation and sports promotion in cities. The conditions under which this collaboration is carried out are that, while Kaart allows Juan Carlos to invest time in training students to manage and edit OSM, using JOSM and GIS resources, the student members of Geolab, the YouthMappers chapter at the University of Antioquia, provide georeferenced photographic information through Mapillary and together they update the relationships of the cycle lanes.

Students will receive a certificate from Kaart and YouthMappers for contributing to this project for their participation, time spent editing, and skills gained. The training sessions are focused so that students acquire the basic knowledge to continue contributing to mobility projects, mapping bus routes or any other transportation routes where it is necessary to understand the management of OSM's open data, its potential, and the approach of collaborating with the Open Street Map community. Juan Carlos Melo, Sara Berrío (student and leader of Geolab), Luis Sebastián Bravo Chacón (student and leader of the SAGEMA chapter) Andrés Casanova (Leader of the OSM Colombia community) and I coordinate this project as a team.


Together with Maya Lovo and Mariela Centeno, LATAM ambassadors, we are trying to build community among the Latin American chapters. We have identified that despite the activities that are carried out, chapter members do not know each other and this is essential in order to consider ourselves a community. That is why we have created a Telegram group (Link ) where all YouthMappers from Latin America are welcome. There they can propose ideas, conversation topics, training, and collaborations between members of the YouthMappers network through the Cafecito with YouthMappers event, which is a community space.

Consistent with the importance of creating and keeping the YouthMappers LATAM community active, the idea of building a YouthMappers LATAM channel was also born. Together with Kaue Morales, a member of the chapter Mapeadores Livres UFPR at the Federal University of Paraná, we are working on the creation of a channel to have access to tutorials and training from the world of OpenStreetMap and open cartographic data in Spanish. The goal of this resource is for the YouthMappers community to have permanent access to these tools, understand the ecosystem behind the OSM community and open mapping, and make it easier for them to develop their local projects.


Johan Sebastián Agudelo, student and leader of the YouthMappers Geolab chapter, has been leading this project initiative since last year in his bid to contribute to managing the risk of landslides in the San Antonio de Prado township within the city of Medellín, Antioquia. In this project, community participation is being supported to generate information that contributes to risk management actions, taking into account the suggestions and needs of the institutional and environmental actors in the disaster risk management space in Colombia. This process has been a collaborative effort between members of the GeoLab chapter, the local community of the corregimiento (neighborhood unit), the communal action, and the Administrative Department of Disaster Risk Management (DAGRD).

This project is framed in three objectives:

  • Involve the local community in generating and obtaining information on their territory through participatory mapping.

  • Provide relevant information that contributes to the development of community Disaster Risk Management Plans, and decision-making by local authorities and institutions in situations of vulnerability of the local community.

  • Support the identification of areas most susceptible to mass movements that contribute to increasing the vulnerability of the local community.

This project is challenging and is contributing to Sebastián’s training for developing the skills to coordinate and lead this project. He believes community mapping is a multisector space that fosters the development of plans, strategies, and decision-making to face different types of local challenges.


This project began with the work of a great ally of our community, Adele Birkenes, Geospatial Analyst at the USAID GeoCenter, who put me in contact with the USAID Mission in Colombia to see about the possibility of collaborating. We met with the team and shared updates on YouthMappers projects and USAID projects to identify areas of synergy for the development of a collaborative project in the near future.

After several meetings, I had the opportunity to get in touch with Sebastián Oyola, a member of the Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Young Professional Fellowship program. He has been the bridge between YouthMappers and the USAID Colombia program "Our prosperous land". Since then, I have met several times with the coordinator of the Geolab chapter, Professor Fabio Vélez, and Sebastián to see the possibility of linking the Geolab chapter to activities related to meeting a project objective to contribute to the delimitation of water roundabouts in the municipality of Cáceres in Antioquia, Colombia.

A water roundabout is a strip or space contiguous to bodies of water, which must be protected to conserve aquatic ecosystems. Depending on the different ecological and geomorphological characteristics of the land surrounding a river or stream, the width of this strip varies. This area must be established within any property that contains a body of water to request and process a land title for a property. For the delimitation of a water roundabout, it is necessary to have updated cartography and knowledge in the management of geospatial tools.

In Colombia, the municipality of Cáceres has been one of the places most affected by violence and armed conflict. This made access to property titles impossible for many displaced families, who now, in the post-conflict era, need access to their property titles. This is where USAID Colombia and GeoLab are engaging in conversations about developing activities to contribute to solutions for gaining access to land titles. Regardless of whether this future collaboration may finally take place or not, this is an example of how a group of actors, with different visions, can find themselves in a node that interests them all: contributing to socio-environmental well-being.


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