Thursday, 30 May 2013


- guest blog post by Oludotun Babayemi, Cloneshouse Nigeria

By the end of 2013, over 30 million miles of places in 3,000 cities in 187 countries, (from 13 million in 22 countries in 2008) would have been added to Google Maps! Perhaps, you might want to ask – how are these data generated? A large percentage of that is from contributions from Google Map users through Google Map Maker. Others are from the internal effort from Google Map Maker offices; Google Places for Business and data from government and agencies.

There are millions of Google map users from around the world, but the most unique amongst them are the once in groups or teams that organize a Google supported “MapUp” where they choose a specific time to add places they know to Google Maps, especially because they reside or are familiar with this area. This informed the Abuja MapUp where over 100 people from different works of life came together in Abuja, to organize a 1-week long participatory mapping exercise at the end of January, 2013. It was tagged the largest mapup in Nigeria, well if not in Africa.

Moving from one part of the city to another, for 6 days, these Mappers printed out satellite images of their community from Google maps, reviewed and added places of interest to the imageries on paper while they move within streets and roads. Later in the day, they converge at a pub to upload all edits back into Google maps. “At the start, it looked so tedious, but later, I found out it could be so much fun” said a 16 – year old python programmer who joined the exercise.

For most of the participants, they were motivated by the opportunity to learn and collaborate with other people in giving back to their community. They believed having detailed and accurate places on Google maps will allow tourists, investors, visitors and even themselves navigate their way easily within the city. “Because we have local knowledge, and notwithstanding the little resources, we can help add hospitals, schools, roads, and pubs on Google maps, so people can easily find their way around town” said one of the participants. Awareness and co-ordination was done through emails, twitter, facebook and short messaging services (SMS), while official letter of invitation were sent to concerned government organizations.

As licensing and owning data still remains a big challenge in using Google maps, as highlighted by a participant from a government organization, it is still a “good worth doing” as Google as started developing technologies such as crisis response to help address global challenges and support innovative partners through grants, investments and in-kind resources. Consequently, if you will like to organize a mapup in your community and you need support, you can sign up at

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