West Africa Motorcycle Mapping Project

I am getting very excited about revisiting the Diamond Country of Sierra Leone next week. Last year, the Missing Maps community in this area managed to map hundreds of communities’ vulnerabilities as part of a Red Cross/MSF collaborative project in the wake of Ebola.

In Kono District, updating the map by hand: a geo-located photo.

Now, we are mapping some specific community medical needs in Kailahun, and using the project to build a prototype system which we hope will be useful across the whole continent.

It depends, as do all of our projects, on the capacity to be self-sufficient and locally governed. Locally-sourced component parts which are to be found in most african communities are smartphones, motorcycles, people with local understanding, people who can improvise, people who can draw paper maps, people who understand community priorities. These are the hard and soft tools of this project. The community of mappers in Sierra Leone gets stronger and stronger by the month, it seems, and the mapping software is available to people in small rural locations, to edit on their own terms.

I am looking forward to a study of what these terms of reference are, and how people interact with the potential to put their presence on the World Map.

Missing Maps Nick, getting ready for our talk at the Code For Africa conference in Freetown last year.