[HOT] happy one year anniversary to YouthMappers and thank you HOT!

Solis, Patricia patricia.solis at ttu.edu
Thu Nov 17 14:14:27 UTC 2016

Dear HOT community,

One year ago today, we celebrated the launch<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dca0dUQfU6c> of this adventure now known as YouthMappers. The university consortium<http://www.youthmappers.org/chapters> we are building around Mapping for Resilience has grown in a short time to encompass 42 universities in 13 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The approximate one thousand students who make up this network have now contributed more than 4 million edits to OpenStreetMap that directly support geospatial data needs for development and humanitarian projects<http://www.youthmappers.org/projects-1>. The voices<http://www.youthmappers.org/faces-voices> of young people around the world are being heard. With every change to the map, YouthMappers are changing minds about what young leaders can do today to make a difference in our world.

Many people are to thank for making this past year so surprisingly successful, and it has been my honor to work with each and every one of you.  The vision of Carrie Stokes, Director of the USAID GeoCenter in the US Global Development Lab has propelled us into this movement. Her team, including Chad Blevins, indispensible leader of the Mapping for Resilience program, Michael Crino, our valued program officer, and many others in DC and in the various USAID Missions, have enabled us to connect the vibrant energy on our campuses to the authentic and important work of the humanitarian and development community.

Tyler Radford, Director of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and his crew have been essential in helping us integrate smoothly into the HOT community, and we are grateful.  To many others at Peace Corps, MapGive, Red Cross, Missing Maps, and beyond, we appreciate your welcoming us from the global academic community.

Our founding team at George Washington University, West Virginia University and Texas Tech University have poured their hearts and dedicated their talents to building mappers, not just maps.  My CoPIs Brent McCusker and Nuala Cowan in particular have shared and shaped this vision, contributing such creativity and camaraderie essential to our success.  For all their guidance, knowledge, and efforts, we also appreciate Jamison Conley, Mike Mann, Ryan Enstrom, Richard Hinton, Marie Price, Guofeng Cao, Kevin Mulligan, Carlos Portillo, and Duane Nellis.  Thanks as well to our partners at UGCIS, American Geographical Society, GISCI, TeachOSM and Mapillary for adding value to this endeavor for our students.  Our local capacity building collaborators from HOT and elsewhere on the ground have accomplished deep impacts that give us real reason to celebrate: Humberto Yances in Colombia; James Eshun and Enock Seth Nyamador in Ghana; Douglas Ssebaggala in Uganda; Zacharia Muindi  and Erica Hagen in Kenya; and Ahsanhul Hoque in Bangladesh.  The amazing and hard working cadre of Virtual USAID GeoCenter Interns deserves much praise as well.

Most importantly, to the student leaders, chapter presidents, officers, members, and faculty advisors of the YouthMappers network, on this anniversary, we are inspired by your overwhelming response and continuous generosity of your time and talents.  We are listening to your words and deeds. We take heart in the face of food insecurities, malaria outbreaks, water conflicts, urban inequities, household shocks, droughts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes, and the many other difficult issues we are tackling together.

Many challenges and opportunities lie ahead in our second year.  We aim to continue to ensure that new mappers receive quality education, training, and mapping experiences that add value to their career trajectories.  We will continue to study our impact and adjust to the needs of the student body and the communities served. We will honor and support young leaders<http://www.youthmappers.org/apply-leadership-fellows-initiative> with a May workshop in Nepal, with thanks in advance to our host Nama Budhathoki of Kathmandu Living Labs. We will launch new campaigns to exalt female students and undertake gender related development programming with our Let Girls Map efforts. We will implement new research fellowships and additional rounds of local capacity building, and promote virtual and personal exchanges to consolidate our widely distributed network and empower the youth community.  We welcome your ideas and participation as we continue our next year of this movement!

Happy anniversary YouthMappers and a merry GeoWeek to all!

Yours truly,


Patricia SolĂ­s, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Center for Geospatial Technology
Research Associate Professor of Geography, Department of Geosciences
Adjunct Associate Professor, Climate Science Center

Director, YouthMappers


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