Women get together to map Kenya

Friday, March 11, 2011 at 11:40 AM

[Cross-posted on the Google Africa Blog]

Many people enjoy using Google Maps to locate and learn about places around the world. Others, however, relish taking a more active role: improving Google Maps by adding and editing roads, parks, businesses, and more through Google Map Maker. In some cases, these citizen mappers take a day to collaboratively focus on a specific area, as more than 60 women did recently in Nairobi, Kenya. Together, they planned a “Ladies Mapping Party,” with the goal of empowering and inspiring a broad array of women to give back to their communities through mapping. From advocates to non-profit leaders, students to computer scientists, environmentalists to editors, these women mapped the places they live and love, know and often visit.

The event began with a short training and demo session during which participants received an overview of Google Map Maker, followed by a competition to spur the groups on to map their communities.

Training and demo session

One of the groups was comprised of three dynamic students from Strathmore University - Betsy, Issene and Yasmin. Within 30 minutes, they had mapped most of the points of interest in their home town, Isiolo, while the broader group of women worked together on Juja, Ongata Rongai and Nyahururu.

This strategy of targeted specific regions in Africa seemed to work well for the attendees. “We decided to map Isiolo because we know the area well, and the area had very few points that were mapped compared to other areas like Nairobi,” noted one of the students, who also joked that the prizes - including Google-branded bags - further encouraged them to map so comprehensively.

Issene, Betsy and Yasmin: contributors at the event

Many of the participants mentioned that they’re eager to continue using Map Maker, citing it as “a new pastime.” But the women took away more than just mapping knowledge, with one of the mappers noting that the group “learned from the others that doing what you love is the key to success.”

Interested in mapping your part of the world?  Give Google Map Maker a try.

Posted by Jacqueline Rajuai, GIS Specialist, Google Kenya