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News — 08 September, 2022

Reflections and experiences of HOT Data Quality Intern 2021, Rabi Shrestha

Why did you choose to apply for the internship?

I was a student of Geomatics Engineering at Kathmandu University. I had a passion and interest in field surveying, atlases and mapping even before joining engineering. As a result I got to know about OpenStreetMap (OSM) and became very interested in mapping. I began contributing to various communities, conducting OSM trainings and started volunteering on various projects related to disaster response, humanitarian aid and economic development. More about my OSM Journey in this YouthMappers blog.

In 2021, after being involved in an OSM community for more than a year, I wanted to learn and develop new skills in OSM. I was in my last semester and I needed an internship to complete my graduation. At the same time, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) had a call for applications for the HOT Data Quality Internship, so I jumped at the opportunity! I had a great OSM profile, was active in the OSM Nepal community and in the Geomatics Engineering Society (GES).

What did you enjoy about being a part of the internship?

During the internship, I had the opportunity to communicate with fellow interns and supervisors from diverse countries and communities. The best part of the internship was being in contact with so many HOT staff members, including the Executive Director. For beginners and learners like me who are seeking professional career development, HOT encourages, hones, and develops one’s skills. Our supervisors Sam and Becky always made us feel comfortable and arranged coffee chats with several HOT staff members, which I enjoyed a lot.

What was it like getting to know the other interns?

Meeting new people is always interesting and it was even more interesting to meet the other 19 interns as they were from different countries. We were all divided by national boundaries, culture, and language but we were all united by HOT in a single classroom. The first friend I met was Tengku Almira from Indonesia who is so passionate and follows her dreams. We shared our culture, festivals, religion, geography and field of study with each other.

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Becky arranged coffee chats with other interns. With Lassine and Viji, we discussed OSM activities in our regions, different mapathons, GIS Day, the HOT Summit, State of the Map US, and other OSM related topics. With Micheal and Gustavo, we discussed our OSM journeys, problems while mapping and validating and opportunities in OSM. I also enjoyed talking with friends from my country, Puspa and Sandhya and shared our experience of meeting new faces from different countries.

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I am so glad that I also got a chance to have a chat with Bo Percival, the Director of Technology and Innovation at HOT. He told me that he had lived in Nepal for more than a year and loves Nepal and our festivals Dashain and Tihar.

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I made great friends from this internship and we are still in touch. Being from remote Nepal, it was great to meet people from different countries and know about their geography, festivals and religion.

Which project that you validated meant the most to you?

Some of the projects that I mapped and validated during this internship were:

  • Zambia Local Impact Governance Activity

  • Algeria Wildfires 2021

  • Haiti Earthquake 2021

  • COVID-19 Caribbean (Belize, Guyana)

  • Open Cities - Guatemala

Among all these projects, I mostly worked on the Zambia Local Impact Governance Activity project and that means the most to me. The USAID Local Impact Governance Activity will help Zambia build up a sub-national system of governance for devolved service delivery that is more responsive to citizen needs. Remote mapping of buildings and roads will support the implementation of planned activities and the generation of data for humanitarian activities.

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What do you hope to do with the skills that you learned during the internship?

I was keen to expand my skills and have gained a much deeper understanding of OSM. After this internship, I was also able to export OSM data to apply what I learned by preparing informative maps, tourist maps, and interactive maps. The advantage and disadvantage of OSM is that it is free and editable. So the data quality can be a problem. Quality data is key to making accurate and informed decisions. I always try to create quality edits and data, not only on OSM but any platform, and help community members to make quality edits as well.

These days, I advocate for open data and data quality because every edit matters. By being an intern, I learned about networking, communications and problem-solving. I learnt how to interact with people and that helped with my personal development. Since the day we had a meeting with HOT Executive Director, Tyler Radford, who said: “It’s not just data quality, but its data quality for greater impact”, I am committed to data quality.

Coming from a geomatics and mapping background, I feel I will use what I learned from this internship in disaster response, humanitarian aid and sustainable development. I am still actively working in OSM Nepal and advocating for data quality and the importance of open data. I am trying to bring the OSM movement to Nepal with the support of various OSM activists and organizations. There is no such geospatial and surveying work that I had completed without the use of OSM after this internship. I have always tried to fit OSM into the surveying work I do because I believe knowledge on OSM is my strongest tool. Now, I feel confident to work for any organization after my experience as a HOT Data Quality Intern and I am thankful to HOT for this opportunity.

Acknowledgment: I am extremely grateful to Kathmandu University, Department of Geomatics Engineering (DOGE) for helping me take part in this internship program as the part of fulfillment of Bachelor Degree in Geomatics Engineering. I want to express my deepest gratitude and special thanks to HOT Executive Director, Tyler Radford and Chairperson of the Data Quality Assurance Working Group Matthew Gibb who provided me with an opportunity to be an intern in the organization. Without the support and guidance of the Regional Director of the Open Mapping Hub - Asia Pacific, Dr. Nama Raj Budhathoki, I may not have the energy to continue the OSM journey. I would also like to thank my supervisors Mr. Sam Colchester and Ms. Rebecca Chandiru for provision of exemplary guidance, monitoring and constant encouragement throughout the intern period. Their expertise in training, program coordination and technical support in implementation will take us far in our journey. Special thanks to all other trainers from Meta, Kontur, Youthmappers, Mapbox, OSGeo and everyone. Lastly, I would also acknowledge with a deep sense of reverence, my gratitude towards my parents and members of our family, who have always supported me morally as well as economically.

About the Author: Rabi is a freshly graduated Geomatics Engineer from Kathmandu University, Nepal. He is a person with extreme desire & determination to learn, work & succeed. He is also a HOT Voting member, HOT Micrograntee 2021, HOT Data Quality Intern 2021, an alumni of YouthMappers, an active volunteer at HOT, UN Mapper and has also worked as a secretary at Geomatics Engineering Society for the year 2019/20. Currently he is working as executive member of Nepal Geomatics Engineering Society(NGES). His fields of interest are Geographic Information System(GIS), Cartography, Surveying, Database Management, Land use planning, Open Mapping, Remote Sensing and other fields related to Geospatial domain. He is also a member & Voting member of OpenStreetMap Foundation(OSMF). He advocates for open data and also holds the record for continuing OSM Streak for 420 days in a row.