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  • Jimerveille THIERRY-NGOUAMA - Regional Ambassador - YouthMappers de l'Université Denis SASSOU-NGUESSO - Republic of Congo

The GeoNight 2023 Mapathon Hosted in Brazzaville: Experiences of YouthMappers UDSN

On April 14, a Mapathon was held in Brazzaville at the Campus numérique francophone de Brazzaville (AUF) with the support of CartONG (an international NGO specialized in geospatial information management) during GeoNight 2023. With the vision that experiences are made better when they are shared, we will be sharing with you, in the following words, our little experience of hosting a Mapathon by explaining what is a Mapathon and highlighting tasks (before, during, and after).

So, what is a Mapathon?

A Mapathon is commonly defined as a collaborative and solidarity mapping workshop organized online or face-to-face during which participants map on OpenStreetMap (an online platform allowing anyone with an internet connection and a computer to put a given geographical area on the map and it is considered as the "Wikipedia of maps") or its linked platforms (HOT Tasking Manager, Teach OSM Tasking Manager or Missing Maps) by using simple tools (like Id editor or JOSM) and a satellite image.

CartONG coordinator, author and chapter president.

What about the GeoNight 2023 Mapathon?

Hosting a Mapathon is a fun way to introduce newcomers to OSM data and encourage experienced mappers to share their knowledge and experience. By the way, it is really important to be prepared and, in our case, we have been greatly helped by the Host a Mapathon section available at Together with the CartONG’s coordinator in Brazzaville, we followed some of the given advice in the section aforementioned and there are highlighted as follows:

  • Before the Mapathon

In this important phase, we focused on communication and getting things ready for the event. For that, we designed a Google form to which participants applied, we published both the flyers given by CartONG and the inscription link to all our social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp) and we also posted flyers in various academic campuses. After that, we kept managing all aspects of the Mapathon even preparing a virtual meeting for those who were to follow us online. The day before the Mapathon, we were calling and messaging people to confirm their presence.

  • The Mapathon’s day

On that sunny day of April 14, we arrived two hours (02) before the starting time in order to get ready the room and technical materials (devices, computers, and internet connection) and we were a little bit stressed about the event as we faced an internet connection issue. But, over all the problem was addressed and this wonderful Mapathon brought together around forty (40) participants (face-to-face) from various domains of study and academic institutions of our beloved country. The Mapathon’s day is described below.

  • Short training session

Before the mapping activities, we first had a short training session in order to (1) give non-geospatial students an overview of geospatial technology and data and (2) introduce non-OpenStreetMap contributors to data creation with OpenStreetMap. We started this session by presenting OSM website and its history, after dealing with how to create an account and add various data types (points, lines or polygons) and we ended with the HOT Tasking Manager presentation.

  • Mapping activities

After the short training session about OpenStreetMap data and how to create data in OpenStreetMap, we finally started our Mapathon by mapping the tasks #14536 and # 14586 of the HOT Tasking Manager (both projects created by CartONG for this occasion). We were mapping and enjoying some refreshments (chocolate croissants and juice) at the same time and saying to each other: “Maps while eating’. This slogan makes the moment very funny; we could see a good mood on every face. And, we all kept on mapping for hours while experienced mappers helped the newcomers.

  • Experience sharing

While participants were mapping, our chapter’s president and I shared together our experiences as YouthMappers and OSM volunteers. We shared about the YouthMappers network (definition, vision, mission, code of ethics), and opportunities. We pointed out the 2023 YouthMappers Leadership Fellows Summit hosted in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and at last, we explained about how to join the network. All the participants seem very interested as we received a lot of questions on the advantages of joining the network, and the requirements.

  • After the Mapathon

The day after the Mapathon, we sent a short email and form to all participants in order to get their Feedback about the Mapathon with questions like: how was the Mapathon? Will you come if you’re invited to our next Mapathon? What are your remarks or suggestions for the next Mapathon? We also sent them their photos and encourage them to keep on mapping.

Above all, for the incredible success of this activity, I would like to thank the coordinator of CartONG in Brazzaville Mr. Cheldon NKALA KOUTIA, the President of YouthMappers de l’Université Denis SASSOU-NGUESSO Mr. Berland IBARA, all YouthMappers who attended this event and all the participants who came from so far and who made many sacrifices to share with us the pleasure of describing our world by mapping it.

About the Author

I am Jimerveille THIERRY-NGOUAMA from the Republic of Congo, a Vice-President of the YouthMappers de l'Université Denis SASSOU-NGUESSO, 2023 YouthMappers Leadership Fellow, and a 2023-2024 YouthMappers Regional Ambassador. As a geospatial technologies enthusiast and a Free and Open-Source Software advocate, I do believe in the power of networking to address humanitarian issues and achieve sustainable development goals.


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