In the second week of February Mapillary is traveling to Maseru, Lesotho, as part of the #MapLesotho initiative in collaboration with Fingal County Council. There we will be holding workshops dedicated to giving Lesotho’s Physical Planners better knowledge about the potential of using Mapillary to help improve maps and infrastructure.
The Kingdom of Lesotho is an independent, enclaved country contained in South Africa. The name Lesotho translates to the land of the people who speak Sesotho. The country holds one of the highest literacy rates in Africa at 85%. It is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1,000 meters, with topography consisting of lowlands formed next to river banks and highlands of mountain ranges.
#MapLesotho is a crowdsourced effort to create an open, free-to-use map of the country. It was started through a collaboration between Spatial Data professionals from Fingal County Council in Ireland and Physical Planners from the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftanship in Lesotho. With an open map, data is accessible to everyone and infrastructural planning decisions can be made with confidence.
So far, the Lesotho mappers have made tremendous progress mapping their country. A number of mapathons and campaigns have taken place since 2014. Last year, my colleague Edoardo Neerhut wrote about the #MapLesotho Mapping Competition which doubled the number of approved nodes for Lesotho in OpenStreetMap. This year, a second competition called the #MapLesotho Validation Challenge is being held, and it's goal is to improve the quality of the base-map by correcting and validating nodes in OpenStreetMap. Continuous updates on the progress can be found on the MapLesotho blog.
The Lesotho mapping effort over the last couple of years has successfully improved the country’s base-map. Moving forward, the goal is to make the map more detailed, and to ensure that it is accurate. Therefore, Fingal County Council is organizing a two week February event in Maseru which aims to take the mapping to next level using various tools for improving quality and detail. This includes having access to more detailed ground truth as well as using software to automatically detect OpenStreetMap problems like wrongly placed nodes.
The resolution of satellite imagery - which is widely used for creating base-maps - is finite, restricting the maximum possible level of detail in a resulting map. Ground level information is necessary for increasing the detail. Tools like OpenStreetMap Field Papers have been developed for the purpose of getting ground truth data on ground level. While being a great tool, it can be limiting - if notes are not comprehensive another trip to the same place could be required. By using Mapillary the process of adding detail through ground level data can be taken to the next level. It also makes it easy for different people to collect the data and to use it to update the maps.
With Mapillary, people can access stored data and update maps at any time. Also, the world is an ever changing place. Mapillary enables documenting this change in an easy way by uploading pictures of the same place over time.
With this in mind, Ciarán Staunton at Fingal County Council and Edoardo came up with the idea of us sharing our knowledge of mapping using Mapillary at this year's event. The end goal is to teach the Physical Planners of Lesotho how to harvest as much data as possible from Mapillary sequences and how take advantage of it to improve the maps and in the end the country’s infrastructure.
Empowering people by giving them the right tools and the knowledge of how to use them is the best way to spur creativity and development in every part of the world. We are very proud to have been invited and want to thank Fingal County Council for giving us the opportunity to participate in this year's #MapLesotho event which aims at doing just that.
I am excited to teach those in attendance about how to use Mapillary in an optimal way, and in turn to learn more about Lesotho and the people behind the #MapLesotho effort. Exchanging experiences and getting an opportunity to see the dedication of everyone involved in the mapping initiative will be fantastic.
Will keep you posted!
/Oscar & The Mapillary Team