#MapLesotho and openstreetmap among other "open" things

25 November 2014 | debigc

We are joined now by Kangelezwe Mota who is the contact point for Open Source interests in Lesotho.


When one discussing anything that is happening with the internet, and the leaps forward that humanity has made with technology in recent times, you often hear the word “opening”. And there is no accident in that. When Tim Berners-Lee first conceived of the world-wide-web he described a new world where access to information was levelled for all users, with no limits on the scope for re-use of that information and open access for all to use the information on their own merits.

Open Data is one manifestation where data held by Governments on behalf of the citizens is given back to citizens who care to use it. Another is Open Government Partnership, where along with the data conversations about how decisions are made can take place. And then we have openstreetmap, where citizens themselves can create data for re-use by other citizens or even Government. Open source is creation and innovation of software between citizens and belongs in this conversation even though most users are not software developers. We need to bring all nascent strands of these interest together in Lesotho soon, so that we work together to really change the country.

#MapLesotho is the first credible and organised effort to map the country using the full power of the internet. This project has many applications, but there strongest benefit is going to come form the idea that one is able to know where they are in detail better than what is provided over other commercially driven online maps. But more than that citizens can map their world in all its detail. The huge, and ever growing spatial open data store will provide mobile application developers with the basic ingredients to allow each mobile phone user with the possibility to find key locations, and key services they may wish to use. But bigger perhaps is the fact that they will see where they are and where the world and their environment is going.

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Lesotho reaching the 2,000,000 node milestone just recently on the openstreetmap is a milestone in the history of Lesotho. This makes us pioneers of a sort by the mere fact that something that has always been done is happening for the first time in Lesotho. There is still a bit more to be done between now and when the data makes a real and practical difference to the life of the citizens. But I would like to extend appreciation to those who are giving that made the world a better place and we hope that more is to come. In the future more local Basotho will be involved in this task.

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