An Unusual Blend of College Education, Open Mapping and Local Governance

Saturday, 13th of September woke up to an unusual blend of college education, open mapping and local governance.

Over 70 students from Apex College, 20 facilitators and several other citizen volunteers mapped over 159 acres area in ward 7 of Kathmandu Metropolitan City. This Mapping Party was an unusual one – it was a graded exercise to the participating students as part of their geographic information system (GIS) course that Dr. Nama Raj Budhathoki is teaching this semester with assistance from Poshan Niraula and Helina Shrestha.

The mapping exercise provided students and volunteers with an opportunity to contribute to Livable Kathmandu, an initiative of 15 members of the parliament who represent entire Kathmandu Valley. Honorable Mr. Gagan Thapa who represents Kathmandu constituency 4 facilitates Livable Kathmandu. The initiative aims to make Kathmandu Valley a better place to live!

Mappers on Field
Mappers on field, fighting off rain – Nothing shall stop us!
Mappers uploading data using JOSM
Data upload using field paper, mobile and JOSM after the fieldwork

After about two hours of fieldwork, we assembled in two labs at Apex College and uploaded data to OSM – open and free map of the world collectively created by volunteers. At the end of the day’s event, Mr. Gagan Thapa met the mappers and thanked them for all the map data they created for mapping his election constituency. Bringing the example of Melamchi drinking water lines, Mr. Thapa highlighted how map data serves as a foundation for local governance. “Imagine a resident being able to click on the road next to his house on a map and get information on when the officials are going to lay down Melamchi drinking water pipe! Today’s student-created data will be used towards that goal,” Mr. Thapa remarked.

Mr. Gagan Thapa with Dr. Nama Budhathoki
The Mapping Party ended with a cake!

For a region where its college education is often criticized as being disconnected from everyday life, and mapping is stereotyped as an aloof discipline meant only for surveyors and cartographers (and Open Mapping is branded merely as a weekend hobby of the Free-and-Open-Source fanatics), this Saturday was a glimpse of positive changes to come.

We would like to give special thanks to our wonderful group of volunteers, Geomatics Engineering students and alumni from Kathmandu University for dedicating their entire weekend to this great cause.

The following map displays the day’s work:

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