Kathmandu Living Labs hosted members of Global Shapers who had come to Kathmandu to learn about issues related to sustainable cities. The Global Shapers members had come to Kathmandu for the Shape South Asia conference about creating sustainable cities. During the four-day meeting in Kathmandu, they visited Kathmandu Living Labs to learn about KLL and how the Shapers can use similar technologies in their home cities.
Global Shapers is a worldwide organization of people between the age of twenty and thirty. The members are chosen from young people who have already contributed to their communities, and the organization brings them together so they can learn more and share their knowledge and experience. An initiative of the World Economic Forum, Global Shapers was founded after Charles Schwab realized the potential of young people to change and shape the world.
Many countries in South Asia are at similar risks of natural disasters and suffer from problems resulting from rapid urbanization. The event on Friday at KLL was hence an attempt of cross-learning and sharing experiences on some of the efforts taken in mitigating these problems. The visitors had special interests in Kathmandu Living Labs’ response and recovery works in post-earthquake period; and wanted to explore on the opportunities of employing similar technology in their own countries.
The event began with a presentation about KLL’s work before and after the earthquake, and its contributions to earthquake relief through QuakeMap.org and other platforms. This presentation acquainted the visitors with how maps as a product can serve as a cross-cutting infrastructure of development for sustainable cities. After the presentation, a geocaching exercise gave the visitors a chance to try out OpenStreetMap, and contribute to creating actual map data. The goal of this exercise was to introduce the visitors to the concept of crowdsourced, community-driven mapping as a process of engendering active citizenship and community involvement which is vital for developing sustainable cities.
For the mapping exercise, visitors from Global Shapers were divided into three teams. Each team was given a set of clues which they solved to reach certain destinations. At each destination, they had to collect locational (GPS co-ordinates) and non-locational (names, address, etc.) data of certain features like banks, schools, etc. These features were carefully chosen to match areas related to sustainability. For instance, one group located schools, while another found locations related to environment and culture. A third group looked for facilities related to healthcare. Coming back from the field, the Shapers also learnt how to share the data that they had collected with the world via OpenStreetMap – the free wiki map of the world.
This event was done in conjunction with OpenStreetMap Geography Awareness Week. Like the other events around the world that made up Geo Week, this meeting with the Global Shapers helped to spread understanding of the importance of mapping and geography.