OSM Training during Women in Data Conference

Blogger: Miss Shweta Khanal, GIS Intern

Program: OSM Training during Women in Data Conference under Data for Development (D4D) Program

Organised by The Asia Foundation

Date: 23-25 February 2019

Since I was a little girl, I have been taking routes that I didn’t know, to get to places that I already knew. I had always felt that the earth is round and that no matter what route I take, I would get to my destination eventually. It intrigued me -how a single place could be reached through different paths! But this doesn’t mean that I always took the right path. Some roads were scary,some were blocked and some just dead end and so I had to take a U-turn. If I had the technologies then that I have now, I would have explored much more places than I did.

The Asia foundation organized a great program,themed “Women in Data”, in which I was given the opportunity to teach interested women about open mapping. Excitedly, I agreed.

First day, 23rd February, was a conference where I was asked to speak a few words to create enthusiasm among the participants about mapping.

I was amazed at how interactive my presentations went. To my surprise, it was more like a discussion than a mere presentation. A few of the participants even came up to me saying they never really thought of using maps the way I suggested.

Then came the next day.

I was happy to see the number of women who chose my training among all the other trainings that was available.

Few of the women who choose to take my 2 days training sessions were from an educational field that required the knowledge while a lesser portion were there because of their personal interest. But all of them were keen on learning. Since a few of these trainees were from out of town, not everyone had a laptop with them. Still they all agreed to work on groups to help each other. I gave them basic knowledge on online and offline OpenStreetMap. An open mapping platform that is truly crowd sourced.

During these 2 days I had a quote that I used repeatedly “You’ll never know till you click”. This was my way of encouraging them not to be afraid of making mistakes. After all making mistake is the first step on learning.

The challenge to me was to explain why OSM was open to everyone while Google Maps in fact was not. Especially because Google Maps has a user friendly interface that gives the illusion of being open.

All in all the program was a total success. The little explorer in me took satisfaction in knowing that people are intrigued the same way I am. All the keen minds is what actually made the concept of open mapping possible.