ABUJA IN TIME AND SPACE: HOW TO BECOME A CITIZEN CARTOGRAPHER

How many organizations do you reach in Lagos in 5hours? “I manage to do three, if it’s on the mainland and two if it’s towards or on the Island” replied our focal point in Lagos. So what about Abuja “I always do 2 in 1hour, so I reach 10 in 5hrs, however, getting the exact location or address remains the biggest challenge. Even most of the popular on-line yellow pages don’t have a recent and reliable data of important places in Abuja, same with the popular Google maps!” narrated our focal point in Abuja.

Participants at the Google NYSC Lagos Mapup engaged
in Ground truth activities



By the end of 2012, Google Map Maker will have data to cover about 5million unique miles, in 3,000 cities on every continent! Including Antarctica. One of the greatest contributors to these massive data is Google Map users – I mean me and you, and we keep populating the maps every day. Abuja is not an exception. Nevertheless, am being told several times, that “the location of that pub isn’t right on Google Maps”, that “there are now five new schools on that avenue, but we do not have them on our list as gotten from Google Maps”. Recently, a friend on facebook posted “Please can anyone help me with the direction to a nearby hospital around Cadastral A7,  my child just had a deep cut”, and a student from one of the universities asked me “why won’t Google have my building on Google Maps?”
Mappers doing a ground truth of images from Google Maps
Students of  the University of Ibadan Mapping their campus  


These are some of the issues the Google Map Maker Mapup tagged the “Abuja Mapping Party” tends to solve. In 6 days, starting from January 26 – February 2, 2013 (Find programme of activities here)  we hope to have mapped about 9,000 points which include roads, pubs, offices, schools, hospitals, gas stations, parks and other point of interest within Wuse II, Wuse Zone 1-7, Jabi, Utako, Life Camp and the largest estate in West Africa – Gwarinpa. The event will give you an opportunity to show/share your local knowledge by mapping places in Abuja, exchange ideas and win while having fun.  The Abuja mapping party will show participants how to map different places, draw roads, add categories and discuss other features. This will enable them become citizen cartographers and improve the quality of maps and local information. If you will like to join us, kindly register here  and don’t forget to come with your back bags, coffee cups, plug – outlets and your computer devices.

Mappers at the Google/NYSC Lagos MapUp Event



The event hopes to make particularly Abuja, a smart city, a better mapped city with relevant and recent local information such as roads, schools, hospitals, banks, hotels, police stations and such other important places entered by you, having local knowledge. We will be looking out for the youngest and oldest mapper amongst us, as such we invite children, students, geo-spatial experts and people from all works. “Google Map Maker Souvenirs’ and refreshment will be available, and a certificate of participation will be given to all participants at the end of the event” affirmed Adepoju Emmanuel, a Google Map Maker advocate and ambassador.

WOULD YOU SPARE A CLICK TO SAVE 1,500 CHILDREN?

What would one give in exchange for a new iPad? One 17yr-old boy gave a kidney! Apparently, he couldn’t afford an iPad and wanted one so badly that he was willing to risk surgery. Now you have a chance to sign a petition to save the lives of 1,500 lead poisoned children here
Primary school children in Bagega
Bagega, a small community with a population of about 10,000 people in Northern Nigeria has about 1,500 lead poisoned children awaiting urgent medical attention.

In the heat of November, while I was in Bagega, I strolled into the only clinic, which had three blocks of dilapidated wards, with rickety patient beds (three in each block). Entering the first block, meant to be a delivery ward, was sitting a woman carrying a new born baby. One of the staff told me the woman just got delivered of a baby boy. “The only thing we are not certain about is the lead blood level of this newly born in the next coming months”.
The extension of the clinic at Bagega
While the numbers of children keep adding up in this community, the only hope for them is you and I, that will be responsible for getting the voices of these innocent children heard, not only by the federal government of Nigeria, but the world at large. “Children keep dying of high lead blood levels in our community, but seem underreported” affirmed Sanni M. Aliu Bagega, a 31yr-old Environmental Health Officer from Bagega.

While the government of Nigeria, during an International Conference on Lead Poisoning on May 9 and 10, 2012 , already promised $4million (NGN850million) for the clean-up of this community. About 7months now “there hasn’t been any help until now, people come to talk to us, but they won’t do anything” said Halima, a grandmother that has lost eight grandchildren to lead poisoning already.
The contaminated Inna Gwabi Dam in Bagega where
community members fetch water, wash and have their bath
Remediation can’t wait to save the lives of these children. Apparently, we can’t afford to head to the streets, but our appeal can be forwarded through a click. Please sign the petition here on behalf of the children of Bagega. About 512 great people from 59 countries already signed, and this has made local and international media, the social media including bloggers amplify the voice of this ailing community.
On December 6, 2012 as a follow up, the Human Rights Watch launched a social media campaign seeking the president’s release of promised cleanup funds. To join the campaign asking President Jonathan to release the funds, you can visit his facebook page and comment on his last status update with the following message:

‘President Jonathan, why won’t you release the money you promised in May to clean up poisonous lead in Zamfara? Children are dying and your government’s failure to act is putting more children at risk’