[OSM-talk] Some thoughts against remote mapping

Lester Caine lester at lsces.co.uk
Sun Jun 14 15:24:01 UTC 2015

While OSM is not a politically motivated and controlled project, some of
what has been discussed needs a fuller discussion. It's the poor areas
of the map that need the most help and those of us with the tools to do
so should ...

On 14/06/15 13:18, Johan C wrote:
> I've searched her article for an answer to her question, but can't find
> it. Though there are two clues in her article:
> 1. 'the real target of any development-oriented data effort — actual
> improvements in the lives of the world’s poor and marginalized.'
> 2. '...to solve this problem of invisibility bestowed by poverty.'
> Do we, the westerners, want actual improvements in the lives of the
> world's poor and marginalized, or are it these people themselves who
> want this? And is it true that the poor are invisible (on a map) and
> that they have that problem? Or should it be a westerner telling them
> they have a problem (ah, I didn't know I had that problem) which then
> can be solved by mapping projects engaging locals?

At the current time there is an unending flow of bodies from those poor
and marginalized areas, and so perhaps the ONLY way to curb that flow is
to establish just what resources are available to keep locals in their
locality. Rather than spending millions 'saving them', that money would
be better spent supporting local projects and not lining the pockets of
the empowered few in those areas.

> I can only see one clear reason to help the poor people from a
> westerners view: in case of a disaster, NGO's can help people by
> providing food, clothes, housing. In order to reach them, maps are a
> lifesaver. Luckily OSM has the possibility of remote mapping (Google
> forbids it) using up-to-date satellite imagery which helps these
> lifesaving efforts.

It amazes me that mobile phones seem to be so prevalent in these areas,
so perhaps that resource should be used as an input to provide mapping
data that can't easily be provided by satellite imagery such as the
location of problems on the ground? Although that technology gets better
support than feeding the rest of the population does seem somewhat perverse?

> Other than disaster mapping, it's fine to me when locals don't want
> their blank map being filled in at all. And if they do want a blank map
> being filled, they can do it themselves by the standard tools. The poor
> can do without mapping projects organized by non-locals. It's enough for
> non-locals to be there when locals ask for support.

And how much of that is ACTUALLY that those who hold power in those
areas simply don't want their populous to have access to that
information? The whole of Africa is a disaster area and that fact needs
to be properly documented and mapped, and it's ONLY a freely accessible
project like OSM that can provide that service?

Lester Caine - G8HFL
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