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The last year (2018) was important for the Colombian OpenStreetMap Foundation [FOSMCo]

For 12 years the Colombian OpenStreetMap community has been working voluntary and self-financing through close friends. In the last 3 years, we made it through the formalized figure of the OpenStreetMap Foundation and its Humanitarian Mapping Unit. But we’ve not been good communicating our achievements with the national and international community.

Presentación de Resultados
Autor Juliana Hernández Díaz

The last year (2018) was important for the Colombian OpenStreetMap Foundation [FOSMCo] because we were supported by HOT Microgrant.



For 12 years the Colombian OpenStreetMap community has been working voluntary and self-financing through close friends. In the last 3 years, we made it through the formalized figure of the OpenStreetMap Foundation and its Humanitarian Mapping Unit. But we’ve not been good communicating our achievements with the national and international community.



HOT gave us a focus that we lacked so far: the importance of communicating our achievements in a consolidated way. Tools like the Self Evaluation Matrix allow view our progress. At the moment we are thinking how propose similar tools with more integration features to have these figures in data formats such as JSON to make data visualizations and have consolidated numbers.


At the beginning, this microgrant was only for the Chaparral municipality but we do much more and establish ourselves.


Starting last year, 4 members of the leadership team talked with two friends who told them about their master's thesis at the Superior School of Public Administration ESAP, they worked with a town called Chaparral. They told us about their findings and how this municipality doesn't even have cartography to create a Territorial Arrangement Plan which includes an obligatory management risk plan. We presented this case to the HOT to obtain the Microgrant and succeeded.


By law, all municipalities should have Territorial Arrangement Plan which includes an obligatory management risk plan. In this case, the municipality of Chaparral didn't have it, this means that in case of an environmental disaster, for example, they would not have tools for attending people or information for humanitarian organizations; without a map, it is not possible to create such a plan. The area around Amoyá River and other places have been at risk with each rainy season and planning to avoid problems have been reactive instead of proactive. Without sufficient information, maps cannot be updated regularly. Unfortunately, the municipality of Chaparral is far from unique in this regard, because almost every municipality in the country has similar problems when it comes to the availability of cartography and Territorial Arrangement Plans.


Our biggest challenge working with the local Chaparral administration was to advocate for the importance of Open Software and Open Tools with the OSM ecosystem because there's a general belief especially for GIS(Geographical Informations System ) technicians, that private software is safer and more reliable and Open Software only means free of charge. We are very dedicated to raising awareness on this issue in this process.


When we breached the barriers of customary helplessness and began to do our fieldwork and workshops, the tools and advantages speak for themselves.
With technology like field papers, OSMAnd, JOSM, QGIS and flights with drones to generate ortofotogrametry, the attendees from institutions, local administrations, involved adolescents, and other civilians quickly got a first glance of the results that can be achieved. This perception of the potential of these technologies changes the hearts and minds about how to solve the problems at hand. It is exactly this aspect that makes these types of projects worthwhile. This process of community empowerment, the transformation in their own perception of their capacity to impact their reality, is the most valuable reward for us.


For the work in Chaparral we implemented our own methodologies which allowed us to map:

48.109 Total Edits, 41.140 Building, and 1.463Km Roads, 30 people trained and consolidated map product to continue the management process improving the Risk Management Plan.

These numbers are the result of mapping in zones with a high probability of natural disaster in Chaparral but we were able to achieve more during the year; the most important example, the Hidroituango Dam emergency, allowed us to test the network of contacts made during this Microgrant project in a crisis environment. The International Red Cross network helped us to activate the MapSwipe platform with the HOT team support and since Chaparral has a high probability of threat but nothing happened in 2018, the Hidroituango dam process was an important test this year.



In an upcoming blog post will dive deeper into the process and methodology that we used in the workshops and also about the designed and printed material that we used to raise awareness around the importance of Open Software and Open Tools with the OSM ecosystem with local administrations

Thank you so much to HOT Team for your support! We feel we can achieve more if we can look forward and create broader partnerships.