[OSM-talk] Some thoughts against remote mapping

john whelan jwhelan0112 at gmail.com
Sat Jun 13 15:00:25 UTC 2015

I think you could extend this to saying we should let people live their own
lives and not allow them access to things such as mobile phones until they
have enough education to design their own.  In Canada we have native people
and the debate is always what services should you provide them with and
what laws should apply.

Realistically HOT mapping helps the NGOs and others to provide things such
as Polio inoculations.  I understand that some people on religious grounds
feel that all inoculations should be banned.  I personally don't subscribe
to this view.

I note that one article questions whether or not mapping buildings is of
any value.  The question has been raised in HOT circles and it depends on
the project and the purpose of the project and whom the client is and what
their requirements are. I think these days project managers are sensitive
to the fact that asking for a million buildings to get mapped may mean the
project is never completed or not completed within a reasonable time frame,
we have HOT projects still uncompleted some years after they were first
started that request buildings.  The other thing of note is that often when
an area is mapped multiple AID / NGO groups will use the map data.

On balance I think that the HOT part of OSM provides value, the locals do
not need to use the maps.  The maps are much better when locals are
involved but then you bring up the whole issue of how reliable is an OSM
map?  Often something is better than nothing.

Cheerio John

On 13 June 2015 at 10:37, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:

> Hi,
>    I'm known for being critical of armchair mapping by people with no
> personal connection tho the area being mapped. Whether done for fun, for
> money, or to help, I think that in most cases it is a bad idea that runs
> against the spirit of OSM.
> (I'm willing to concede that there are exceptions, and that sometimes
> doing something that's against the spirit may still be useful. But these
> are individual cases, to be carefully justified, and remote mapping
> should never become anyone's standard mode of contribution.)
> Until now I thought that the main exception, one that even I would have
> to accept, is mapping for humanitarian purposes.
> I was all the more surprised - positively surprised - to read this
> thoughtful essay by Erica Hagen, who founded Map Kibera:
> http://groundtruth.in/2015/06/05/osm-mapping-power-to-the-people/
> I'd encourage everyone to read that. It questions some rarely questioned
> assumptions; it even says that mapping by locals doesn't really "count"
> if those locals are just doing it for the money (a sentiment that I've
> always felt but rarely dared to express, because who can expect locals
> in the poorest parts of the world to map "for fun" like privileged
> westerners do?).
> It also says that "local" isn't "local" if the locals from the wealthy
> city map the slum in their midst. I've tended to routinely associate the
> call for "more diversity" in OSM as mainly being one for levelling the
> gender playing field but this article goes much further.
> In some parts the article echoes a rather more acerbic posting written
> last month by Gwilym Eades, a university lecturer in London:
> http://place-memes.blogspot.de/2015/05/the-hubris-of-proactive-disaster-mapping.html
> which essentially accused humanitarian mapping (and as I would add, any
> remote mapping really) of "homogenising, westernising, and colonising"
> the map.
> I don't agree with everything written in these postings but they
> certainly deserve some wider audience, and that's why I am writing this
> here - since neither author is on these lists and I haven't seen their
> messages mentioned or quoted anywhere.
> I think the tl;dr of both these postings could be: "Whenever you give
> someone a map by remote mapping, you also take something away from them."
> Bye
> Frederik
> --
> Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
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