On January 28th, 25 volunteers, colleagues, students, and partners gathered at Tanzania Data Lab (dLab) for a Maptime event hosted by Ramani Huria. The event commenced at 10 am and its eager attendees lingered well past its scheduled end time at 1pm.

The main objective of this mapathon was to identify buildings and roads in the Shinyanga District to support those working on the PEPFAR HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment initiative. With this area mapped, PEPFAR and its stakeholders will better be able to establish how communities are connected by roads to understand whether essential HIV/AIDS services are being offered in the right places.

The event featured a comprehensive presentation outlining what to expect from a Maptime Event, the value of OpenStreetMap (OSM), and a crash course on adding data to this platform.

Presentation session

Presentation session

On top of that, Ramani Huria used this opportunity to introduce the university students to YouthMappers, a network of international mapping chapters at university campuses around the world that aims to cultivate the leadership abilities of young people keen on creating resilient communities. It is the hope of YouthMappers that students will be empowered through the network to improve the world through mapping. Those who choose to get involved can start new university chapters or affiliate their existing student groups, organize mapping activities, add much-needed data to OpenStreetMap, collaborate with other chapters, and share results.  Most importantly, they can apply for leadership, recognition, and fellowships to improve their opportunities post-graduation.

In attendance at the mapathon was Veronique Lefebvre from Flowminder who gave a brief talk on the work carried out by her organization. She highlighted examples of Flowminder’s innovative mapping efforts in Nepal and Haiti, using mobile phone data to support humanitarian response teams on the ground, and presented a case study from Tanzania that used mobile operator data to estimate movements of malaria-infected people between Zanzibar and the Tanzania mainland.

After that, the mapathon volunteers were free to begin mapping and adding data to OpenStreetMap.

Mapping session

Mapping session

Throughout the event, mappers engaged in an OSMfight – a fun service that performs a rough quantitative comparison between two mapper’s contributions to OSM. This not only entertained but motivated the participants to continue mapping.

OSMfight where lucyalice wins over mackie dee

OSMfight where lucyalice wins over mackie dee

By the end of the session, we were able to achieve approximately 43% of the tasking manager’s project, adding 631 highways and 4,837 buildings. The project is still open for the global OSM community to volunteer mapping.

A group photo of the mapathon volunteers

A group photo of the mapathon volunteers

A massive “thank you” to everyone that participated the mapathon. We look forward to hosting you again next month!