Celebrating 12 Successful Years of Crowdsourcing with OpenStreetMap

At the fourth Maptime Copenhagen event, we met up to celebrate the 12th anniversary of OpenStreetMap, the wonderful crowdsourced mapping initiative that keeps on gaining ground.

Maptime Copenhagen for OSM 12th Anniversary OpenStreetMap - a diversity of people contributing to a common map of the world for 12 years already

Last weekend OpenStreetMappers around the world organised local meetups to celebrate the 12th anniversary of OpenStreetMap. Mapillary was proud to partner with Maptime Copenhagen and everyone involved with #MapLesotho in a joint celebration involving Copenhagen, Dublin, Berea and Maseru. In the spirit of Maptime, we had a diverse group of participants, most of whom were encountering OpenStreetMap and Mapillary for the first time. It was thus a perfect opportunity to introduce the concept of crowdsourced mapping to a new audience.

After a brief introduction by Mapillary Ambassador Søren and myself, we got straight to it with a photo walk around Ballerup, the small town not far from Copenhagen where the local library kindly provided us with the space to hold our event. Selecting routes was particularly challenging, given the tremendous effort locals have put into mapping the area. There are very few streets in the area that haven't already been covered on Mapillary. Nonetheless, participants had no trouble quickly mapping the streets around the Ballerup library with their smartphones. We made it back inside just as Copenhagen weather set in, and refuelled with lunch as we uploaded our photos.

Walking towards the library in Ballerup

The technology gods were against us as we then tried to join a video call with Dublin (Ciáran and Dave) and both Berea (Mzwandile & Ts'epang) and Maseru (Lineo & Tshedy) in Lesotho. At long last we managed to hear His Excellency Paramente Phamotse, the Ambassador of Lesotho to Ireland (and, interestingly, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Norway) address us.

It was a fitting testimony to the potential of crowdsourcing as Paramente eloquently covered the journey of #MapLesotho and how tools like OpenStreetMap and Mapillary continue to support decision making and service delivery in the country. Ciáran and Dave spoke next as Maseru and Copenhagen listened in. Their tireless support and enthusiasm towards the project is evident in the countless hours they've spent organising, educating and map editing with all involved.

The Ireland team of MapLesotho at OSM 12th anniversary Finally the time to map with your party hat on!

The Maseru team of MapLesotho at OSM 12th anniversary Lineo and Tshedy, two of the wonderful local people that are key in #MapLesotho

At this point everyone was excited to start editing in OpenStreetMap and to see the Mapillary photos they had just uploaded. We sat down at our computers and started going through the basics of iD editor. Søren and I were lucky to have Michael (hjart) in attendance, an OpenStreetMap legend in Denmark with over 13,000 edits under his belt. He had travelled all the way from Jutland in Western Denmark to be there.

Everyone picked up OpenStreetMap very easily so it wasn't long before we started working on some Humanitarian OpenStreetMap tasks in the HOT Tasking Manager. As the participants explored areas as far afield as Nairobi, Maputo and Northern Poland, it became evident how much mapping remains to be done. The progress since 2004 has been remarkable, but the momentum must continue to create the world's most accurate map. Here the value of street level photos was apparent with satellite coverage of the aforementioned locations insufficient for truly accurate mapping. Enabling citizens to photo map their localities is an important next step towards more accurate maps.

We stopped mapping briefly to dig into the delicious carrot cake my fellow community manager Katrin had baked. Let's just say I brought an empty tray back to Sweden.

OSM 12th anniversary cake Katrin vowed that next time she'll invest the cake decorating time into mapping instead

Another hour of mapping and an introduction to some handy tools to edit in OpenStreetMap rounded out the afternoon. Ideas sparked along the process - like with one of the attendees, Louise from Aalborg University. She was enthusiastic about adding a mapping component to an upcoming hackathon the university is hosting in October. Stay tuned for more details on this front.

Overall, it was a wonderful day full of meeting new people, photo mapping and editing, and celebrating 12 years of crowdsourced contributions to OpenStreetMap.

Sincerest gratitude to all the attendees who approached the day with the utmost enthusiasm. It was also a pleasure that both Ireland and Lesotho could join us in the celebrations. Ballerup library were exceptional hosts and provided the perfect venue. They kindly invited Maptime back for future events.

Ballerup Library promoting the Maptime Copenhagen 12th anniversary event

Thanks to Ballerup Library for helping promote the event!

Lastly, I would personally like to thank Søren Johannessen, not only for the tremendous effort he put into organising the weekend, but his continual commitment to Maptime Copenhagen.

To 12 great years and many more!

Ed & The Mapillary Team

P.S. You can read Søren's impressions of the event on his blog (in Danish).

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