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Cape Town Mapping Party this Sunday, September 28!

Open Geo Data, Open Source and Neogeography

Open Mapping Africa 2008: A Series of Workshops in Fall 2008

This Fall, we will hold a series of multi-day workshops in around southern Africa, with universities, governments, civil society groups and any other organizations that need geographic data and tools. Researchers, professionals, students, and members of the community are invited to participate, learn, and take stewardship of their city. These will be very practical, hands-on days, covering the entire toolset of OpenStreetMap, Open Source GIS, and Neography, empowering participants to lead the growth of free and open mapping in Africa. We will map Africa!


Though Africa is changing faster than ever before, the use of digital mapping to track the growth of Africa's cities and the transformation of the countryside has not yet fulfilled its potential. Geo data is closely held and inaccessible, too expensive, and simply out of date. The situation is similar throughout the world. But it doesn't have to be.

Over the past few years, there has been a revolution in cartography and GIS. Through open source software, the Web and the tools of neogeography, these formally specialized disciplines of mapping have been made accessible to anyone with knowledge about their local place. OpenStreetMap is mapping the entire world openly and collaboratively, and coverage is increasing exponentially. These tools are powerful, in some ways outpacing expensive proprietary and closed systems. The barrier of cost no longer exists. The only prerequisite is a will to know, explore and share.

Communication Channels and Documentation

You can read about our last series of travelling OSM workshops in India.

Workshop Leads

Andrew Turner is a neogeographer involved in helping build the geospatial web. His startup is Mapufacture, where we're building a system that makes it easy for people to build and share collaborative maps and customize their slice of the GeoWeb. He also develops a number of other open-source tools such as GeoPress, Mapstraction, and I wrote the book "Introduction to Neogeography" for O'Reilly.

Mikel Maron is a freelance web developer, specializing in Open Geospatial and Wiki tech. He's been active in the standardization of GeoRSS and in the OpenStreetMap collaborative mapping project, and co-founder of the geodata aggregator, Mapufacture. He's developed two of the first Wikis in use at the UN. Previously, Mikel worked as senior developer of My Yahoo! and researched evolutionary models of ecosystems for an MSc at the University of Sussex

Schuyler Erle is a free software developer and activist. He is responsible for NoCatAuth, an early open source wireless captive portal, and, an open source U.S. address geocoder. Erle wrote O'Reilly's Mapping Hacks with Jo Walsh and Rich Gibson, and Google Map Hacks, also with Rich. Previously, he worked with MetaCarta in Cambridge, MA, USA, developing nitfy geographic projects like OpenLayers, an open source web mapping framework written in pure JavaScript, and Gutenkarte, a service for exploring the geographic dimension of classic works of literature. Erle is proud to be a founding member of the OSGeo Foundation.



Nairobi, Kenya 20-27 September 2008

We've had a great time meeting folks at the Nairobi National Museum, UNICEF & UN-OCHA/UNHCR, and soon folks from Ushahidi.

Cape Town Mapping Party 28 September 2008

    • 29 September - 3 October FOSS4G 2008 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Register now and meet Andrew, Mikel, Schuyler and more characters from the OSM and other Free and Open Source GIS communities. If you're interested in Open data, Open standards, Open Source, or GIS in general, this is the conference to attend.

Johannesburg, South Africa, 3-5 October 2008

Open to Suggestions in Johannesburg or elsewhere

  • After FOSS4G how about running mapping parties in other cities in South Africa before proceeding to other countries.
    • Johannesburg / Pretoria
    • Durban

Mbabane, Swaziland, 6-7 October 2008

Open to Suggestions


  • The OpenStreetMap Project
    • Goals
    • History
    • Community
  • Introduction to OSM's Technology
    • Architecture
      • Data model
    • Feature tags
    • API clients
  • Introduction to Global Positioning
  • Data Collection
    • Participants will use GPS receivers and other tools to collect data about the locale near the workshop venue.
  • Data Editing
    • Importing GPS data into JOSM
    • Using JOSM to draw features
    • Tagging features in JOSM
  • Additional topics
    • General introduction to mapping, cartography and GIS
    • Neogeography
    • Open Source Geospatial Software
    • Photomapping
    • Rendering Maps
    • Working with geodata and programming OSM and OSGeo tools
  • The Future
    • Group presentations / discussion
    • Concluding remarks
    • Discussion of next steps

In multi-day workshops, successive days will incorporate more detail and hands-on work in the additional topics listed above, dependent on interests and skill levels of the participants.

Interested Participants

Want to take part? Add your name, contact info and affiliation here. We'll be organizing this more in the coming months.

Felipe Costa - UERJ - Brazil

Christian Ledermann - Nairobi, Kenya - UNDESA - christian dot ledermann at

Peter Doerrie - Nairobi, Kenya - Student of Development Studies - peter dot doerrie at gmail dot com


Feel free to place any contacts or organizations we should connect with

Technical Requirements

Participants are not expected to have any particular skill set, but basic familiarity with computer use is expected. Participants are not required to bring their own hardware, but bringing a laptop and/or a GPS receiver is very strongly encouraged where possible.

No specific operating system is needed, but participants are requested to download and install the following software if they bring their own computers:

The workshop room should be equipped with a digital projector and internet access.