What are the effects of OpenStreetMapping on the mappers themselves?

Aishworya Shrestha

Part of the Empowering communities using geospatial technology session of TICTeC Show and Tells 2021
Tuesday 25th May, 15:00 – 16:00 BST
Zoom

OpenStreetMap (OSM), the crowdsourced geospatial database, currently has more than seven million registered members, making it one of the largest Volunteered Geographic Information projects in the world. Its many usecases are well proven, from post-disaster response to combatting female genital mutilation; and it is fundamental for tasks from app development to daily navigation.

And all of this from a database wholly made and maintained by contributors that make all decisions without a governing authority.

Generally, contributing to OSM's mapping is regarded as a form of volunteer service. However, recent analyses suggest that experience of mapping could be as important as the data contributed. This research answers the question: What are the effects of OpenStreetMapping on the actual mappers?

The study examined a youth mapping internship organised by Kathmandu Living Labs, a civic tech company leading the OSM movement in Nepal and the region. They studied the self-assessed experiences of the participant mappers during the mapping programme, and again after two to three years had passed.

Short term effects were studied through the grounded theory coding of reports and blogs documented while mapping. For long-term impacts, an online survey assessed whether the effects persisted.

Results show OSM mapping results in a full range of benefits for mappers, from geographic knowledge to an increase in happiness, as well as professional development and technical skill-building.

These skills are retained even in the long run, irrespective of differences in academic or professional backgrounds. Surprisingly, 44.8% of the participants cited that they considered being a professional mapper or cartographer at some point in time because of the internship program. The same people “strongly agreed” that OSM mapping increased their belief in their ability to help society.

Links: Kathmandu Living Labs: Maps for everyone

http://www.kathmandulivinglabs.org/projects/digital-internship-and-leadership-dial