Building Bridges with Open Mapping: Uniting OSM Communities & Contributors at State of the Map Tanzania 2023
By Aisha Hamisi and Hawa Adinani
The State of the Map Tanzania 2023 was a game-changer, bringing together a diverse community of individuals and organizations all driven by a common goal: using and contributing to OpenStreetMap (OSM), the free editable map of the world; with the theme “Supporting Progress Towards the SDGs with Open Mapping.” The conference was organized by OpenMap Development Tanzania, Crowd2Map, Tanzania Data Lab, and YouthMappers.
The conference brought together a diverse group of over 130 individuals from 8+ countries, creating a vibrant environment where a multitude of ideas and experiences were exchanged and blended. It served as a platform for a rich exchange of knowledge and perspectives, discussions of new developments, and collaboration on projects aimed at improving OpenStreetMap and open data in Tanzania, promoting cartographic innovation, and using OpenStreetMap as a tool to catalyze progress.
The event was a lively mix of sessions, i.e., panel discussions, workshop roundtables, training, mapathon, talks, etc., from diverse speakers and hosts from Tanzania and across the world. One of the most crucial topics discussed was building trust in community-generated data and open data among stakeholders. This is important to actors working across open data and citizen-generated data as it tends to raise questions and concerns around data quality, privacy, and the like: We would like to see more discussion on this happen in other OSM and open mapping conferences, with the goal of learning from and sharing experience within the ecosystem.
Inspiring stories were shared by both new and experienced organizations, giving attendees the chance to learn about social problem-solving efforts and accomplishments: and providing a platform for youth in OSM to network and gain valuable experience from experienced individuals in the OSM and open mapping communities.
The conference also raised the issue of women’s participation in OSM and data in general, encouraging them to participate in workshops, talks, and training sessions. There is a huge gender gap in the technology and mapping sectors, and we want to provide platforms for women in conferences like this, hoping to lay the foundation for encouraging other women to participate and take part in this sector.
The State of the Map events are increasingly becoming crucial for the OpenStreetMap (OSM) community and continue to be a hub of knowledge-sharing, collaboration, and building new ideas for expansion. Whether you’re a seasoned OSM expert or just starting out, these conferences are important to anyone with an interest in OSM and are an excellent opportunity to learn more about the OSM projects, use cases, what worked where, and how to get involved.
Stay tuned for updates on the next State of the Map Tanzania! In the meantime, get ready for an exciting State of the Map Africa conference in Yaounde, Cameroon, this December 2023. Follow the OSM Africa Twitter account for updates.