Local Mapping Partners
We can't map everything remotely - many important features need to be mapped locally, and so we work closely with local partners (such as Gulu University, Uganda), in order to train local volunteers to help build our maps. Using a bespoke paper-based system, local volunteers validate the data that we have created, as well as add place names, road names, building usage, water supplies and many other features that we cannot discover remotely.
Using teamwork in this way, local and remote volunteers work together to produce freely available maps of the highest quality and level of detail, which can then be used for a variety of applications, including the provision of services and resources such as water, healthcare, and internet access.
A major part of what we do relies upon training mapping volunteers. This includes a wide range of different approaches, incliuding:
- Holding events at schools, universities and workplaces in the UK;
- Appearing at public events in the UK, ranging from local pubs to music festivals;
- Delivering in-country training to local volunteers, often using specialist systems designed to work in settings where resources are scarce.
We are currently working on using the maps to install new drinking water supplies in Northern Uganda. Using detailed maps to support this work means that, for the first time, we can optimise the location of new drinking water supplies, allowing us to concentrate on serving those who need it most. In doing so, we hope to have a significant impact upon inequalities in access to clean drinking water in the region.
We won't stop until the Acholi has a comprehensive set of high quality maps, owned by everyone and managed by local community organisations. Hopefully, we can build on what we have done here, to provide similar services (and maps!) in other remote and rural regions of the world.
Dellen Drake, Timna Denwood and Kirsty Watkinson