Technology Preview

Participatory mapping in the Amazon with Mapeo

Mapeo is an easy-to-use offline mapping app built on iD Editor, the default editor for OpenStreetMap. We built Mapeo for our work with indigenous communities in the Amazon and around the world, who asked us for an easier way to create and edit their own maps. The excellent work done by the iD contributors significantly lowers the barrier for a non-technical user to use a GPS and put their neighborhood on the map. Watch the short video to see the Seikopai (Secoya) people of Ecuador using Mapeo in a remote community, deep in the Amazon, to map their neighborhood: the network of deep blackwater lakes filled with caimans, river dolphins, and stories of the Seikopai peoples’ origins and history.

Mapeo is built on top of osm-p2p, a peer-to-peer database designed to be used where internet is unreliable and teams need to make maps together, but can’t stay connected. For example: two villages a half-day walk apart working together on the same map of their shared territory. Mapeo provides a simple interface for adding and editing data and then synchronizing changes to a USB drive that can be taken to the next village, bringing the two datasets in sync.

We consider Mapeo alpha software right now: there are bugs and it is under active development. Our partners are already using it in Ecuador to create detailed and beautiful maps, and our team is working remotely directly with community mappers to learn about what works well and what needs improving. Over the next couple of months we are cleaning up the code, improving documentation, and creating auto-updating installers for Mac OSX and Windows. If you’re feeling brave you can follow development, test it out, and help fix bugs and write code: everything is being done in the open over at the Mapeo Github repo

If you are in Seattle for State of the Map US this weekend July 23—24, search me out and watch out for a birds-of-a-feather session about Mapeo and other tools we are building to bring OpenStreetMap tools to remote communities in the Amazon.