State of the Philippine Map (My SOTM2011 talk)

maning @ sotm2011

It’s been more than a month since the State of Map 2011 in Denver.  I was lucky to be one of the scholars this year. Being my first SOTM, I had a great time.  Given the quality of presentations, I see a great future for the project (no matter what other people say about it).

My talk was about the progress of mapping in the Philippines and in keeping with our community tradition, contents of this talk was also crowdsourced. :)

The slides are available in slideshare.  This post are my notes on what I said or suppose to say in <10 minutes.

The community is growing.  This is not very surprising since prior to OSM, there is already an existing community of crowdsource mappers (PGIS, waypoints.ph). Each community is different in various ways, however, they share a common goal and that is to create a great map free for everyone. Some of these mappers contribute not only to OSM but to the other crowdsource mapping projects (google map maker, waypoints.ph, roadguide.ph).


We map our neighborhoods, our towns, other people’s towns, whole cities, whole islands.

In most cases, our mappers are lone mappers who single-handedly map large areas on their own.  There is very little map collaboration other than the occasional mapping parties, request for fix-up and discussions in the list. However, there is a need to expand the coverage. The number of dedicated mappers are insufficient to cover more areas.


Setting-up the OSM-PH local chapter hopes to address this issue through regular outreach to schools and to other mapping groups/enthusiasts.

We had a few imports here and there.  Imports have greatly improved some areas in terms of data.  However, we are also experiencing the negative effects of import to community growth in some areas (like the Naga City import).  One important note is that while we do welcome imports, we outlined a set of community guidelines before we import any data.  As a result of following these guidelines, some external data were evaluated and were rejected by the community.


Most OSMers here are simply mappers.  Very few develop anything out of the data.  We usually create applications simply to support the needs of mappers.  Creating these applications are our own way of recruiting more mappers. Sometimes, outcomes are unexpected.

I want to share with you a nice story. 

In one of our mapper’s blog, a blind person inquired if they can use OSM data for navigation.  The blind guy is using Loadstone GPS (a satellite navigation software developed for Symbian Mobile/phones).  We created a loadstone db for selected towns in the Philippines so that they can use the OSM data for navigation. 

A few months after, I received an email from the same guy with an attached file for additional POIs and map corrections.  Being blind, he cannot edit the data in OSM.  The OSM-PH community converted the data into .osm and then added the data into the main DB.

This is unexpected, but essentially we have a blind mapper here!


Ethical issues and community privacy on open data.

This slide talked about the emerging community issues in the country.  I want to highlight the 4th bullet here.

As I said previously, most mappers extend mapping beyond their own neighborhoods.  In some cases, a mapper would visit a remote region and will map anything and everything.  We may not be aware, but we may have mapped features the are of critical importance to local communities.

In the developed countries, we take extreme measures to safeguard our personal privacy.  In the context of the Indigenous Peoples, privacy to their ancestral domain and resources is also of extreme importance.

We have a history here wherein outsiders are exploiting Indigenous Peoples community resources.  Are we helping these communities by exposing locations of their resources in the public?


We want to expand data and maintain community growth.  We have a lot of plans to do this.  Everyone is welcome to help.  Here’s our wishlist.


Part of what made the PH map grow is the availability of hi-res imagery.  The only imagery available to us (prior to Bing) is from Yahoo!  I dedicate this final slide as our tribute and gratitude to Yahoo! for providing us a great resource to map the Philippines.

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