Building the Future Generation of Mappers: A Mapper’s Journey

By Hawa Adinani

The story of OMDTZ begins with students — the organization was founded by university graduates from Ardhi and the University of Dar es Salaam class of 2015 through 2017. Since its establishment, OMDTZ has been working closely with student volunteers to impart open digital geospatial knowledge on how spatial data can solve different challenges in the community.

Through working with student mappers and volunteers, we have been able to implement a number of projects and give opportunities for mappers to grow professionally beyond sitting at their desks digitizing buildings and roads. This blog features one of our mappers, Samwel Kyando who is able to digitize over 2000 buildings a day (8hrs) and stepped up from being just a mapper to a mapping supervisor.

Samwel joined OMDTZ in 2017 as a remote mapper. He is enthusiastic, eager to learn, and wants to do more than mapping. Sam uses his free time to increase his knowledge on mapping tools, creating mapping tasks on tasking manager, and takes the initiative to train other team members.

In August 2020, he joined the “HOT Data Quality Internship 2020” — a three months internship program organized by our partner Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) aimed at ensuring that data going into OpenStreetMap is correct and complete by training mappers to validate tasks on the HOT Tasking manager using JOSM as explained in the blog “A Learning Journey: An experience with HOT” by Federica Gaspari.

Out of 55 interns that initially joined the program, only 15 made it to the end, and Sam was among them.

Sam is now supervising two digitization teams based in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi that are mapping building footprint exposure in Mwanza. He shared with the OMDTZ team how the internship program was a great opportunity for him to widen his mapping skills.

“The most valuable things I learned were different JOSM techniques for mapping buildings with different shapes and road tagging according to road hierarchy, as well as validation tools.” He added, “validation helps to recheck mappers’ work and fix the errors made or missed by mappers, cleaning the data before publishing it to OpenStreetMap. In validation, we focus on quality, not quantity.” Samwel Kyando