They (View their names here) are experts from diverse field interested in using technology to drive social change – in this case, they are to add thousands of places – Hospitals, Schools, Government and Private offices to Google Maps using the “easy to use” Google Map Maker. Referred to as the “crowd” they came into Abuja from different parts of Nigeria to join in a one week of mapping exercise tagged “#AbujaMapUp from January 26 – February 2, 2013. “I saw the message on twitter and I decided to follow up with the programme” said Kenneth Ogwo based in Lagos.
|Group Photo of participants at the training|
Kick starting the event on January 26, 2013 was training on Map Making at the International Womens’ Center where about 80 of the 140 registered participants were present. Gracing the session were representatives from Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation (OSGOF), Abuja GeographicInformation System (AGIS), National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), National Biotechnology Development Agency, Federal Capital DevelopmentAuthority (FCDA), British High Commission, Life Impact Foundation International and a list of others from the private sector. The training session was opened by Adepoju Abiodun (Google Student Ambassador for Nigeria) presenting what Google is doing in Africa followed by several ignites talks on different forms of mapping. “It’s quite interesting, I just added two places on Google maps” exclaimed Nnodim Rose Blossom while Onochie Mokwunye said “I have started adding places with the aid of my mobile phone GPS device, this has been quite revealing”.
|Okwunwa Godwin (NEMA), Uzowulu Williams(NEMA and |
Fawole Yetunde(FCDA) joining to Map Wuse
On Tuesday, January 29, 2013, the participants were grouped into different teams, armed with printed satellite imagery of areas they are familiar with. While they move from one street to another, they tag each building on the imageries, inserted and adjusted roads, which they were able to upload on their various laptops when they get back to their convergence where wireless internet is been provided. This was the routine for four days! “It was fun mapping my area, I enjoyed it” said the 18 year-old Python Programmer, Prince Robert Chetachukwu, a secondary school student of the Gwarinpa Senior secondary School in Jabi. “I never knew my business can be open to the world online for free, please let me know when goes live – you are making history” said an excited Mr Jude, owner of Newton Parks and Resorts at Wuse Zone 4
As the team move from Tetrazzini, Wuse Zone 3; Salamander, Wuse 2; Mr Biggs, Jabi and Drumstix, Gwarinpa Estate as meeting points, making it easier for locales to add businesses online could expose illegal businesses, too. “I am terrified” said Esther Agbarakwe , who raised fear about security of Mappers, and how illegal business owners can be hostile when they see teams taking notes. Not only did this exercise brought like minds in the non-profit and private sector, it brought government officials too who shared their concerns about the exercise, with even AGIS willing to release their data to the team. What does this imply? It means a whole lot of collaboration and partnership is envisaged between these communities – but who will initiate this bold step? We will see in coming days!
|Participants adding points from paper maps to Map Maker|
at Tetrazzini, Conakry Street, Wuse Zone 3
On Saturday, February 2, 2013 the team decided to go “OPEN” and have fun at the Millennium Park after days of intense mapping. An evening to share ideas, lessons learnt and experiences. “As I have been able to map lots of places, for me, it was an opportunity to contribute back to my community and for the first time I feel involved and the only challenge is the security situation in the country” said Blossom, a new media expert. “It has been an awesome experience seeing people putting their community on the map of the world, while drawback remains the unavailability of a tech hub or lab where the team could converge and populate points easily” said Iyke Maduako, a geospatial expert. “The experience is quite wonderful, prior to now, I never believed those points on Google maps and Google Earth is been added by people like myself, moving forward, I believe more traditional awareness should be initiated to get people to know about mapping” said Omoleye Gbenga, a Calligrapher
|AbujaMapUp Team at the Millennium Park|
As these young Nigerians – “crowd” add their names to the history of their community, the biggest challenge remains keeping them together. Out rightly, lots of potentials lies within them – Journalists, Geospatial Experts, Data Wranglers, Computer Programmers, Emergency Managers and Development Consultants. How best can Nigeria utilize the energy within this community? Lest I forget, someone told me they will be coming together again on March 2, 2013 at Salamander, Wuse 2, perhaps, this might keep the community together!