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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 - September 2020

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

In this quarter, the PEER team organized a faculty workshop to disseminate research outcomes and discuss integrating open mapping in university curriculum in Nepal, submitted manuscript of an academic paper to a journal after a minor revision, wrote first draft of a policy brief for local governments in Nepal to harness the potential of open mapping by engaging youth, started to develop research design to foster civic engagement in youth through participation in open mapping, and updated progress and other information on the project website. The workshop on open mapping was organized to begin discourse on integrating open mapping in university level academic curriculum in Nepal. The workshop titled 'Faculty OpenStreetMap Workshop' was organized, together with the Department of Architecture, Institute of Engineering Pulchowk campus for faculty and post-graduate students involved in urban planning, urban design, energy planning, etc. Faculty were introduced to the concept of open mapping and its relevance to planning in general, and provided hands-on training in open mapping skills. Towards the end of the workshop, possibilities and challenges of integrating open mapping in university curriculum was discussed. The workshop was successful in engendering several ways of integrating open mapping in planning curriculum.

Based on the review they received for their paper submitted to Journal of Open Geospatial Data, Software and Standards in the preceding quarter, they made minor revisions to the manuscript and submitted the revised version. The paper has been deemed scientifically acceptable for publication.

The PI and his team developed the first draft of a policy brief on open mapping for local governments of Nepal. The brief highlights the potential utility of open mapping and provides a brief guideline on different ways government can engage local youth in mapping in order to strengthen the city’s open geospatial information infrastructure and foster civic sense in participating youth. They have also started developing the research design on fostering civic engagement of youth through participation in open mapping. Literature review was carried out for the same.

In the next quarter, they plan to finalize research design and research plan on investigating the development of civic learning in youth through engagement in open mapping. They will begin the execution of research plan in the coming 3-6 months. They will also pursue partnerships with participants of Faculty OpenStreetMap Workshop to integrate open mapping in university level academic curriculum.

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