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Participatory transport mapping in Zitácuaro, Michoacán

HOT Project



This project seeks to digitize the routes of public transport routes in Zitácuaro, to later publish them as open data on various platforms.

Zitácuaro, whose name comes from Tsitákuarhu (Mazahua), is a municipality located in the Quencio Valley in the eastern part of the state of Michoacán, Mexico. Its geographical location, a valley surrounded by hills and forests, makes it a place of great natural beauty, but also a challenge for planning the public transport network.

Currently there is a network of 157 concessioned transportation routes, mainly made up of medium-capacity private vehicles, which allow movement within the city center and to the surrounding communities. However, there is no detailed, digitized information accessible to citizens about the routes, schedules, or fares.

The last census carried out on routes and dealers is from 2017, but it did not include the layout of the routes or their exact starting and ending points.

This project, a collaboration between the Mobility office of the municipality of Zitácuaro, the regional delegation of COCOTRA, the Latin American Open Mapping Hub of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), the German association Trufi, and the civic technology organization Codeando México, seeks to digitize the routes of public transport routes in Zitácuaro, to later publish them as open data on OpenStreetMap, TrufiApp and any other platform such as Google Maps.

Project objectives


Provide citizens with quality data so that they are better informed about routes, schedules, prices and thus allow them to make better decisions when commuting.


Government and civil society

Provide quality data to the municipal government and organizations for better land planning and mobility.



Design a printable digital map of public transportation to install in strategic places.


The three phases of the project

Phase 1

Collection of previous information, initial analysis of existing routes, socialization with carriers, and search for mappers.


Phase 2

Survey of routes in the field through the use of a mobile app specialized in mapping public transport.


Phase 3

  • Data cleaning, verification, and opening of data.

  • Printable digital map design.

  • Data integration to OpenStreetMap.

  • Linking with the Trufiapp travel planning app (open source) and other similar ones. This phase integrates the active participation of the Youthmappers UAEMEX student group from Toluca, trained in this topic.


Project development

Analysis of previous information

Before starting the mapping, a preliminary investigation of all available data and documentation was carried out in order not to duplicate efforts.

In the case of Zitácuaro, in 2017 a diagnosis of the public transport service had been carried out. This diagnosis identified 157 public transport routes and thus a register of transport units and concessionaires was created. This document of almost 500 pages was essential to better understand the dimension of the work to be carried out, the human and monetary resources and, above all, the effort that the mapathon was going to require.


Mapping brigades and territorial strategy

Mapping public transport routes requires going through the routes in the real world, and the use of an application or system with GPS to carry out a survey of geographic information on them.

For the Zitácuaro Mapathon, the municipality’s Mobility office recruited fifteen volunteers, mostly students from the Zitácuaro Technological Institute, who were joined by employees of COCOTRA and the municipal mobility office, making a total of 17 people mapping.

Three brigades were created, with 5 students each and a person of COCOTRA in charge to coordinate them through WhatsApp groups.

Codeando México analyzed the diagnosis document and listed the 157 routes, geolocated the bases and assigned the routes to each brigade member, based on their usual areas of their displacements.

For the mapping, the choice was MapMap, a specific app for mapping transportation routes, developed by Codeando México within the framework of Mapeo Xalapa 2016. On-site training for the use of MapMap and the mapping dynamics took place at the offices of the town hall at the beginning of November 2022.


Routes pre-processing

The mapping of routes was completed in January 2023, thanks to the efforts of the municipal team of Zitácuaro and the management of Codeando México.

Before being able to use the mapped routes, it was necessary to pre-process the generated geographic files to clean them, make sure that all the points fall on a street and not on a building due to errors in the GPS signal, as well as process them to homologate them and so on be able to upload them to both OpenStreetMap and Google Maps.

The Codeando México group and local agents were in charge of this cleaning process, under the direction of Trufi-association, with the students of the Salesian College of Duitama, Colombia, and the Youthmappers chapter of the UAEMEX, previously trained for this process.

Data integration and follow-up

Once the data was ready, it was integrated into OpenStreetMap to be accessed from the “Rutometro”, a personalized copy of the Trufi-app, developed by the Trufi Association, and all this was delivered to COCOTRA and the municipality of Zitácuaro on Tuesday, May 23, 2022.

To date we are in conversations about the mapping of more Michoacán cities and the integration of other local universities and municipalities into the process.


The project in a nutshell

This project provides a participatory solution based on the previous experience of the OpenStreetMap community in different countries (Nicaragua, Colombia, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, etc.).

It mobilizes, links and strengthens organizations in the systematization of this knowledge and supports its possible replication in more cities.

It coordinates the data collection, the training of local volunteers, the preparation and insertion of data in open technologies that will allow its free use.


Press (Spanish)