OpenStreetMap – working at the intersection of Public, Private and Government Interests

OpenStreetMap is too public for private and government purposes – Period. Come December 1, 2014, this notion has been challenged and for good.

It all started with a sensitization presentation on OpenStreetMap to fhi360 officials and associated NGO representatives last December. Inspired by the philosophy and usefulness of OSM, fhi360 then arranged for two workshops for its officials. These workshops would provide hands-on sessions to the attendees and motivate them to map, edit, upload and download data to and from OpenStreetMap for their office uses. These workshops would also train them to use Quantum GIS, a powerful open-source GIS software. But these workshops also did something far more remarkable – they inspired an idea.

Data on HIV AIDS are known to raise some eyebrows. The idea of making them available on a public platform such as OpenStreetMaps greatly multiplies that number of raised eyebrows. But that is exactly what the workshop attendees had in mind. fhi360 has some data on HIV AIDS and its service sites distributed across the whole nation. Given the sensitive nature of the dataset, not all of it could be put onto OpenStreetMap; and given the whole idea of making some it public, it could not be completely put in the organization data silo.

The solution was to use the better parts of both private and public worlds. fhi360 would serve data from its database but these data would be presented on a rich visualization made possible by OpenStreetMap. The combined effect of this mash-up is the map below:

On Dec 1, 2014 – the occasion of World AIDS Day – the Ministry of Health has started hosting this map on its site. It is a remarkable example of how OpenStreetMap can be used to serve at the intersection of public, private and government interests. This year’s AIDS motto is, “Getting to Zero.” With the very aptly timed release of this site, OpenStreetMap is serving as an example of serving private-public-government interest and “Getting to a common denominator.”

The entire KLL team feels happy to see something tangible, visible and in life resulting from our contribution!

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