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News — 18 January, 2016

First week of mapping in Mbale, Uganda

As we enter our second week in Mbale, we've started surveying the surrounding districts of Sironko, Manafwu and Baduda today (Monday, January 18th). These are spectacular areas to be surveying, being around Mount Elgon National Park and Sipi Falls. Last week, we mapped most of Mbale district while focusing on education and training, slowly increasing the scope and geographical areas assigned to teams for mapping tasks.

Mobile money agent in Namanyonyi subcounty

Mobile money agent in Namanyonyi subcounty

We're working with an amazing group of over 50 students from Makerere University Kampala, UCU Mbale, Livingstone International University and Kumi University. There is a lot of interest among local community members and students participating in Mbale, which is great for community building, education, awareness of open data, GIS and OpenStreetMap. There are so many keen individuals that we are rotating students to give everyone interested a chance to participate! We've gotten a lot of support from the universities, with UCU Mbale generously allowing us use of their computer room and actively encouraging their students to take part in real world projects such as this one.

Mappers attempting to locate financial services in a remote area

Mappers attempting to locate financial services in a remote area

The mapping process has been refined to supply each mapper with a basemap showing districts and boundaries of subcounties (which we're using to divide work), stored on the phones as MBTiles. This map draws attention to points with known financial services (from OSM and FSPMaps), as well as health and educational facilities from the UBOS datasets, indicating settlements.

Surveying a health facility in Mbale district

Surveying a health facility in Mbale district

Data collection is proceeding very well using the latest version of OpenMapKit, resulting in rich data that can be used to analyse, study and use in a variety of applications. Once our dataset expands, we'll continue to develop use cases with the GIS working group at FSD Uganda to help both businesses (like banks, MFIs and the telecom operators) and consumers to access and utilize this data to support their planning and decision making, working to increase the financial inclusion in Uganda.

Base map showing district and subcounty boundaries, and indicating the presence of known services

Base map showing district and subcounty boundaries, and indicating the presence of known services