Mapper of the Month: lhennen (Belgium)

- Pierre Parmentier


His homepage and his contributor page.

Would you like to briefly introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi! I’m Luka, 22 years old and living in the German speaking community of Belgium, also known as Ostbelgien.

How and when did you get to know OpenStreetMap?

I came across OpenStreetMap two years ago when I was looking for alternatives to Google Maps for map embedding on websites. I was pleased by OpenStreetMap’s open source background and the large community behind it.

How do you use OpenStreetMap?

I use OpenStreetMap mainly for three reasons. Firstly, it is the most accurate map I could find in terms of metadata such as street names, street numbers and also smaller streets and paths. House numbers and addresses can be searched quickly and visually. Also with regard to roads and paths, OpenStreetMap is largely up-to-date and realistic thanks to the ambitious contribution of the community. Whatever is missing can be entered quickly and easily by the users. And that is great fun!

What kind of contributor are you and in which area do you map?

I would describe myself as a casual contributor. I don’t strategically scour OpenStreetMap for faults or track GPS paths, but update and check my own environment as much as possible. I focus on areas I am familiar with even without having a map in front of me.

What are you mapping? Do you have a specialization?

Often it is forest and field paths, missing brooks, wooded areas and newly constructed buildings that I encounter on my walks and hikes and later enter into OpenStreetMap. Very often there is also a lack of labelling of companies such as small shops or medium-sized business. I also complete such information to the best of my knowledge.

What is your greatest achievement as mapper?

The greatest achievement is when you find relevant streets, objects and paths that are just completely missing on OpenStreetMap. Those are highly pleasing achievements.

Why are you mapping? What motivates you?

I like the idea of being part of a community that creates maybe the most accurate and complete free map out there in the internet and to make OpenStreetMap to the first choice when looking for map information. I hope OpenStreetMap gains more and more attention and get’s used my more and more companies, for example in apps, websites and other products. Even some emergency response and humanitarian aid services use OpenStreetMap data, so accurate and regularly updated maps and information are really important.

Do you have any ideas to expand the OpenStreetMap community, to motivate more people to contribute?

OpenStreetMap needs to achieve more presence in the general public. The best way to do that is corporating with companies and other open source projects, like WordPress for example. Making the label OpenStreetMap to a well-known provider of free but accurate map data is important and will motivate more and more people to join our community.

Do you have contact with other mappers?

I’d like to, but in my local and rural area, only few mappers are active.

What is in your view the greatest strength of OpenStreetMap?

Accuracy! No doubt. Another strength is the look of the map. It’s very clean but contains all important informations, which makes it the perfect map for most fields of application.

What are the largest challenges for OpenStreetMap?

As I said, keeping OpenStreetMap growing and gaining more presence in the general public is the biggest challenge for OpenStreetMap. The resulting increase of visitors and users is the only award, appreciation and feedback we contributors get.

How to do stay on top of news about OpenStreetMap?

The OpenStreetMap blog and community blog are the place-to-be for people that want to stay on top of the news about OpenStreetMap.

To conclude, is there anything else you want to share with the readers?

You don’t need to be a nerd to get into mapping. Everyone interested in local environment, general geographical planning and organization or simply hiking is highly invited to participate and become an active contributor to OpenStreetMap.

Thank you Luka for your comments.