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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Understanding the phenomenon of open mapping: creating open-source map data as a critical information infrastructure for disaster preparedness and development

PI: Nama Budhathoki (, Kathmandu Living Labs
U.S. Partner: Kenneth Anderson, University of Colorado Boulder
Project Dates: December 2016 - November 2018

Project Overview:

The main goal of this project is to investigate the phenomenon of open mapping and develop a framework and guiding principles to conduct outreach, motivate, train, and engage citizen volunteers, particularly youth, in mapping. Nepal has one of the most active open mapping communities in the developing countries. There is a huge potential to engage digital volunteers and map unmapped parts of the world (Goodchild, 2007). Citizens can contribute their local knowledge to open mapping platforms using the Global Positioning System (GPS) capability of their mobile devices and the Internet. Citizens do have a wide range of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to participate in open mapping, yet despite such potential, our scientific understanding on how to recruit, engage, and retain citizens in open mapping remains poorly understood, especially in the context of developing nations.

This study aims to fill the above research gap. The study will employ action research methodology, as this makes it possible to expand mapping work alongside research activities. Eight mapping workshops will be organized in two cities in Nepal during the project period. In addition to creating maps, the research team will also train a wide range of potential users and develop their skills to use open map data effectively. The research should open avenues for the young local technology community to develop public participation software applications using open map data, catalyzing a new market. The research will also engage Nepal in the emergent areas of open government and open mapping, which are cutting edge in the United States and other advanced countries. This will prepare Nepal to garner full benefit from the inevitable arrival of these concepts.

Summary of Recent Events

As at the end of year one of the project, Dr. Nama and his team focused on training and running the second cohort of Digital Internship and Leadership (DIAL) program, and running custom version of DIAL in Nepalgunj. They also developed a methodology to assess the impact of DIAL. They advanced their partnerships with Pokhara Sub-metropolitan city, and smart city planning team of Nijgadh Municipality, to explore possibilities of case studies for use of OpenStreetMap (OSM) data in Nijgadh and Pokhara.

Based on the partnerships they developed in the last quarter with Nepalgunj Municipality, they have run customized version of DIAL in Nepalgunj with 15 interns. Meanwhile, the literature review, training and sensitization on open mapping, outreach and partnership building also continued as usual. They carried out sensitization of open mapping infrastructure at few colleges of Nepal.

In the next quarter, the team plans to complete running DIAL Cohort II. By the end of April, most of the interns will have completed their internship program. Internship duration will be extended for participants who could not participate for short durations in the midst of the program. At the end of the cohort, they will conduct surveys/interviews as needed to assess what interns learned and how different elements of DIAL design affected the impact of program.

Similarly, they will collect data of map contributions of all interns during the entire internship from OSM server. They will then analyze the data to assess the map contribution of all interns. They will then present a research paper based on their work in this quarter in the State of the Map conference in July, 2018. The paper will focus on impact of DIAL program in increasing map data in under-mapped regions of Nepal during the program.

Lastly, on the front of use of open mapping infrastructure in local development, they will work with local government and affiliated planners in Nijgadh to execute our research about the role of open geo referenced information in smart city planning, with a focus on open map data, in line with the literature review and research design work done in previous quarters.

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