On 25th April, 2019 Pokhara Metropolitan launched The Map Book: Pokhara Metropolitan City in Maps. This was a significant milestone as this atlas was created utilizing new and existing data uploaded to 2C Geonode web portal and OpenStreetMap (OSM). Both platforms provide publicly accessible map data. The local geospatial data stored within these two platforms was generated by Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL), through the Secondary Cities (2C) Pokhara project.
Secondary Cities (2C) is a field-based initiative of the Office of the Geographer at the U.S. Department of State that builds partnerships to enhance geospatial capacity, generate data and share maps to support planning for sustainable and resilient cities. The initiative is carried out in partnership with the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. It is facilitated by the American Association of Geographers (AAG) for project management and Colorado State University (CSU) for project conceptual and technical support. City projects are initiated by Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Officers at U.S. Embassies, who work with local champions to develop partnerships with municipalities, universities, and non-governmental organizations.
KLL, acts as the local champion of Nepal and worked directly with the Executive Office of Pokhara Metropolitan to add the majority of the city’s health posts, hospitals, clinics, water supply networks, FM stations, fuel stations, schools, organizations and businesses to the map – culminating in one of the richest map data source of the city.
KLL for two years has been collecting spatial data of critical infrastructures and places of interest of the wider public within the city of Pokhara Metropolitan City. The data collection effort has been a unique blend of crowd-sourced volunteered geographic information, ground surveys and digitization of publicly shared government data. The crowd-sourced volunteered geographic data was done by deploying hundreds of student and youth volunteers alongside KLL’s team members. Over 40 mapping events were conducted during these two years that brought the message of open mapping to over one thousand people.
The Map Book itself has 60 maps and inset maps covering nine human geographic themes. It was produced with close consultation with the Metropolitan. The consultation resulted in addition of key map features such as newspaper publishing houses, FM stations, view towers, museums as well as the development of a navigational mobile application and visualization web portal. For the final stage of field mapping, 14 paid volunteers of Institute of Engineering, Paschimanchal Campus were deployed for around three months. These volunteers not only collected new data but validated the information we had collected or been provided through secondary sources.
One of the major lessons learned throughout the data collection process was that features on the ground change frequently and any map produced needs to updated frequently. The accompanying web portal and mobile app allows everyone to access and edit the data produced using their OSM account. The Metropolitan has purposely left the data open so that citizen volunteers can contribute and continuously improve the quality of the data in OSM.