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Filipino YouthMappers: The leaders of TODAY in the local OSM community


In this blog post, I am highlighting the significant contributions of the local chapters of YouthMappers in the OSM-Philippines community in 2022 and sharing a short reflection about the impacts of YouthMappers in a local context.

I want to start with this statement from Dr. Patricia Solis: “OpenStreetMap (OSM) community is a community of communities.” It captures the fact that OSM is more than just an online community; some diverse mappers contribute to the growth of the community. Some humanitarian mappers contribute data from a humanitarian perspective, helping minimize the impacts of disasters. Some hobbyists have been contributing particular knowledge all over the world for years. And now, corporate actors like Meta/Mapillary, Apple Maps, and Grab are contributing data concerning their corporate interests and for different use cases. Plus, there are local communities all around the world and also the local chapters of YouthMappers. It’s really impressive how OSM is a representation of different communities on the map. 🗺️

YouthMappers is one community that supports and makes up the OSM community. YouthMappers is an international consortium of university-level student mapping clubs with local chapters in universities of various countries. We leverage open data and open mapping such as OpenStreetMap to solve the development needs of the communities.

As young mappers, our goal is not just to build maps but to build mappers. We strongly believe that building the capacity of our mappers could forge collaboration among the communities and encourage the creation of more maps that could benefit the community. 💪

Based on the statistics last August 2022 provided by Jennings Anderson and Dr. Patricia Solis at State of the Map in Florence, Italy, YouthMappers has 324 university chapters on different campuses in 67 countries, and we are proud to say that most of our members are 45% women. 👏

In the local context, OSM-Philippines is also supported by organizations like GeoLadiesPH, MapBeks, Mental Health AWHEREness (who are advocate groups), and of course, the 12 local YouthMappers chapters across the Philippines. 🥰

local YM in the Philippines

YouthMappers is a real opportunity for us to increase and balance the community of mappers in the least mapped areas in OSM. When I started recruiting universities, my primary consideration was the distribution of data in OSM based on Thinking Machines’ Map the Gap 2020. Still, the recruitment process was challenging as I had to contact the universities individually. The recruitment process got more tricky, mainly because of the restrictions due to the pandemic, and so I utilized the connections from our community members. This helped me minimize the initial introduction and bureaucracy needed to jumpstart the conversation with the universities.

First, I would like to thank AER for supporting their partner universities through the COLLABDev Project and Mark Aimon Pangan who helped me connect with their partners and eventually become part of the YouthMappers network. USTP-AGES and Viscan YouthMappers for instance, are some of the partner universities that were provided with training and mentorship from Aimon. Check out this blog post from USTP-AGES.

And also, huge thanks to UP Tacloban YouthMappers, our first YouthMappers chapter outside Metro Manila. Through their connection with various universities in the Visayas region, we established two local chapters in Eastern Visayas: Eastern Visayas State University and Southern Leyte State University, from their annual MAPABULIG activity.

The support from the local OSM community members and fellow YouthMappers members helped us connect with various communities and conduct more capacity-building activities that strengthened the chapters' knowledge and skills in mapping. Different chapters were also awarded grants and recognition for their contribution to open mapping throughout the year. 🏅

Among the significant activities and recognition of Filipino YouthMappers include the following:

But just like any other community, the chapters also have shared experiences and challenges. Not all chapters have equal access to the right technologies and reliable internet connection, and shifting to virtual learning also created some friction in conducting capacity-building activities. While we adapted to virtual mapathons, most of the chapters still prefer face-to-face activities, as this is still the best mode of guided learning for the participants.

I also want to reiterate that it is important to recognize the efforts of our young mappers as they still participate and implement activities despite the challenges they experience. Given the time and effort they spent contributing to the growth of map data and the community, it is only proper to affirm their participation in the community. This is important to sustain the chapters in staying active in the local OSM community and the YouthMappers network.

Next year, the local chapters hope to conduct more inter-chapter collaboration, expand the community of mappers in their respective regions, and develop their chapter's core competencies.

These initiatives, programs, and behavior-change are testaments that young mappers are not the next generation of mappers or the leaders of the future, but young mappers are the leaders of TODAY. 🤩🥳