Mapping is an important aspect of the physical world, showing human activities and occurrences of natural phenomenon. The act of map making has gone through many different stages throughout history and now is more broadly known among the public thanks to the widely used softwares of GIS and remote sensing technologies.
But today, mapping has never been this easy, with OSM (OpenStreetMap), all you need is the know-how, an account and internet then you are good to go. Unlike most mapping tools that we have been introduced to before, OSM is a free source available to all and easy to comprehend.
We are two students from the Department of Geography and Regional Planning of the University of Cape Coast who were introduced to OpenStreetMap through the YouthMappers Program. Our names are Pearl Vormawor, a graduate student majoring in Geography and Mary Nsiah, reading Geography and Regional Planning. On September 6, 2016, we, along with 25 students had the opportunity to partake in the YouthMappers Program for local capacity building by USAID coordinated by our YouthMappers advisor Mr. James Kweku Eshun. We had the chance to learn about OpenStreetMap and take part in a task of mapping part of our University campus.
The training process was very exciting, introducing us to an easier way of mapping the world in the comfort of our lecture rooms. We were able to access the mapped tasks of other YouthMappers online and knowing that our work will also be available online for other mappers. Satellite images were mapped online using editors such as the IDeditor.
During the training we were shown how to map out buildings, lecture halls, bus stops and streets from satellite imagery of the University of Cape Coast with the use of OSM. We were also introduced to the use of OSM Tracker on our phones. As part of the training using the OSM Tracker, an exercise was performed where we were put into groups of three and asked to track various sections on campus.
Pearl (left) and Mary (right) participate in the open mapping training
It was a fun activity and our teams took the liberty to explore the features of the tracker by combing features such as pictures, text and voice notes as we mapped out our section of campus.
We went further using field tracked data from the OSM Tracker during field data collection and with the help of the software mapped our field data. The data was extracted and uploaded onto our computers and with the use of the JOSM (Java Open Street Map) application, we edited and updated the map of the University. Also during the training, we were provided with video tutorials on JOSM which I have found to be very useful tool in learning how map.
The technology used in OSM makes it easier for anyone anywhere to map any part of the world. This YouthMappers training has introduced us to a whole new world of mapping which is much more user friendly and easily accessible to everyone. Working together with other students during the training process to map part of campus was a great experience and having to use this technology in the mapping process was even better. We are looking forward to learning more from the YouthMappers program to improve mapping skills and in return, contribute to making the world a safer place through mapping. We are looking forward to exploring more how these tools can be used here and beyond.
On our own behalf and on behalf of the UCC youthmappers we express profound appreciation to the Director of the programme, Dr. Patricia Solís and her team, the USAID GeoCenter not forgetting our chapter advisor Mr. James Kweku Eshun for making it possible to be introduced to this state of the art OSM mapping.