How OpenStreetMap has changed people’s life and my own (Part 1)

I’ve always wanted to start writing about my works. I’ve been writing about some of my works in professional ways, but this time, it’s a bit different. Basically, it’s like putting everything together and linking different stories in chronological order, as I already wrote most of my works all over the internet! The purpose is: I’ve always wanted to inspire people (yes, YOU). Specifically encouraging yourself to give back your knowledge for people in needs (especially for people who don’t have access to higher education) , so they have chances to improve their life (like us). There are tons of ways, and this is my way.

The Beginning: Finding My Passion (2008 – 2011)

Have you ever thinking about your next chapter in life after you graduate? Well, most people do (especially young adult). I used to be fear about what I would’ve become in the future as this world is full of BS and uncertainty. I used to think that I would become a slave, working in a big (but corrupt, greedy, and you name it) company. I had to tell you that I had applied for some jobs as a sales marketing in mobile network company or a clerk in a movie theater. I even worked as a part-time movie publicist. Then, I feel like I need to do something else that relates to my degree: Geography. The problem was, geography degree has a low respect in my country. That was what I feel when the first time I entered the world of geography degree. It wasn’t fancy as engineering, economics, or computer science in 2008.

Ok, I have to be honest. This also part of my uni life.

Here’s the thing, when people entering uni life, most of them thinking what degrees that can bring them a good job, good salary, without thinking about their passion. However, to be honest, I didn’t have any passion at all. I had a problem finding my own passion at that time. All I care was getting a degree. I don’t care what other people thinking. I just keep going and I have no regrets.

I’ve learned so much from lectures that knowing where things are (or having maps) is important for better development. As most people told me: “Think spatial to be special”. However, most of the areas in Indonesia are unmapped. Small scale maps are available but the large scale did not exist. Then, I think I found my passion here: MAPS. I’ve started to learn Geographic Information System (GIS), putting my time to learn the basics to the advanced stuff.

“Think spatial to be special”

The Mapping Begins (2011 – 2013)

My first phase of life changing experience was this. I found OpenStreetMap  in 2008. I joined a community mapping pilot project to map infrastructures around Indonesia. This one was different. I was teaching communities and encourage them to map their own area.

Some snaps from the pilot.

I think OpenStreetMap is a great innovation. It’s definitely worth to learn as the map is free, editable, and obviously open for everyone. I found my second passion and I’m start thinking that it’s possible to map the whole country! Below is a part of my opinion from an interview:

“OSM really open my eyes that this is the right tools that we need it. I mean, there are 250 million people in Indonesia and most of area still don’t have a detailed map. Imagine if each person adding a feature per day, there will be 250 million new features every day 🙂 So I started to help writing and translating training materials which now available in”

You can read the complete interview here (surprisingly, it’s still relevant!). I also wrote my opinion on OpenStreetMap ID blog.

The power of passion is hugely affected me. Even though it was a paid project from the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT, you guys should join!), I never thinking about the salary. As most people said, the most satisfying thing about a job is when people appreciate your work and make the most of it. The greatest thing about part of my work (because it was a team effort!) is: it changed people’s life. People become aware of the needs of spatial information (maps, obviously). Additionally, it also able to opening partnership between government, public, and private (example here). It’s also really great when I found out that they are actually using the map.

Snaps from various workshops.

“The greatest thing about part of my work is: it changed people’s life”

As OpenStreetMap become the next big thing in Indonesia, there was a need for additional tools to improve the mapping process. LearnOSM is one stop guidelines (if people are not familiar with Wiki style guide) to for the beginner to advance users. It was started from a simple interface and only available in English and Indonesia (as it was a part of Community Mapping Pilot in Indonesia), now it’s become a global project  (there are 17 languages!). HOT Export, an export tool to download OpenStreetMap data in the various format, also developed first in Indonesia but now become a global project as well. Last but not least, OpenStreetMap Tasking Manager, a coordinating tool to divide mapping areas into grids so people able to take different tasks to avoid conflict.

LearnOSM is available in various languages. You can propose another language as well 😉

More access to various tools and guidelines means more people are able to map on their own. The result is amazing!

This is an example of how OpenStreetMap data can be use for Disaster Management:

[End of Part 1]