Mapper of the Month: Matšeliso Thobei (Lesotho/Ireland)

- escada

Please introduce yourself

My name is Matšeliso Thobei from Maseru, Lesotho. I currently live in Ireland and study MSc Spatial Planning at Dublin Institute of Technology. I work as an Assistant Physical Planner at the Ministry of Local Government since September 2008. I love travelling; listening to music and watching movies and ever since I was introduced to OpenStreetMap mapping became one of my hobbies. I got my nickname tshedy from my name and it has been since I was a child.


When and how did you discover OpenStreetMap?

I have known about OpenStreetMap (OSM) since February 2015 from my place of work as a planner. As planners we used GIS to create Land Use and Settlement Plans and it was realised that due to lack of resources most of the time GIS Licences would expire and their renewal was a challenge. That is when OSM was introduced through trainings by Fingal Council personnel from Ireland through #MapLesohto Project.

What do you map?

I mapped Lesotho mostly, and at the beginning the focus was on roads, waterways and residential areas in rural areas and building in urban areas. Later on the scope increased and we included other landuses, such as farmlands, forests, etc.

How do you map?

I do armchair mapping using JOSM with a number of plugins. I also do surveys using fieldwork papers and also use different phone apps.

Mapathon with colleagues Mapathon with colleagues

How do you conduct your surveys?

I use Field Papers, print them, record information on them and scan them back with the JOSM plugin. Again I use Mapillary taking pictures and use Mapillary plugin on JOSM.

Which tools do you use?

I use JOSM to map and to improve the map and get rid of errors I use Keep Right and Osmose. For editing also I use phone apps; and StreetComplete and use Mapillary to get images.

Mapillary exercise Mapillary execise

Where do you map?

I mapped Lesotho the most and I now also map Ireland. Besides I map other countries that invite mappers on social media for humanitarian help. With my phone in my hand I map every country I put my feet on.

What is your biggest achievement as mapper?

I am the biggest mapper in Lesotho and have been for a long time. I was able to push almost all the districts to their completion and I do feel that my work will help a lot of people. Through the work I have done a person will be able to navigate Lesotho and the data can be used by various departments.

where Tshedy maps Heatmap of Tshedy’s mapping activity

Why do you map?

First of all the data will help me in my area of work as a planner to do various spatial plans. Also the contribution I make that will help people now and in the future make me feel good with what I’m doing. Lastly I love it because I am able to create my own map depending on what I’m interested in.

What motivates you?

Seeing the work I did on phone apps.

What is the most difficult part of mapping?

Mapping an area I’m not familiar with makes it difficult especially putting in tags. Also tags are not specific to some areas.

What are your mapping plans for the near future?

Detail maps of Lesotho and map other countries that need humanitarian help.

Do you have contact with other mappers?

I am in contact with Lesotho mappers and we have had mapathons. I’m also in contact with OSMAFRICA community and also OpenStreetMap Ireland community. Recently became part of HOTOSM Voting members.

Mapping workshops Mapping workshops

Do you use OpenStreetMap yourself?

I use when I travel plus I also use data in QGIS for analysis and to creating maps and spatial plans.

Example work done in QGIS Example work done in QGIS

I follow work done by other OSM Communities on blogs and social media to explore what other people are doing with the data.

To conclude is there anything else you want to mention?

I achieved a lot through OSM and was able to learn from other people through networking. I have a lot of people to refer to when I need help assistance.