Mapper of the Month: Gpoilvet (Belgium)

- Pierre Parmentier

His homepage and his contribution page.

Hallo Gpoilvet. Would you like to briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Gpoilvet, I am 23 years old and live in Lokeren. My hobbies are drawing, cycling, history, landscape interpretation and OpenStreetMap. I’m now at the end of my Master study Geography-Geomatics at the UGent (Ghent University) in Belgium.
How and when did you get to know OpenStreetMap?
I got to know OpenStreetMap in 2019 at UGent. A Mapathon was organised where we mapped roads in eastern Congo for humanitarian assistance.
How do you use OpenStreetMap?
I use it both as a data source for assignments and as a map for longer bicycle tours in and around the Waasland region (1).
What kind of contributor are you and in which area do you map?
Actually, I do all sorts of things. I map buildings, waterways, place names, chapels and landuse. I work mainly in Sinaai and Belsele but I’m definitely planning to do the rest of the Sint-Niklaas municipality as well as other surrounding Waasland municipalities.
Another thing I have been doing is mapping the bunkers of the Hollandstellung from Knokke-Heist to Beveren. This is a position built by the Germans in World War I to prevent an invasion by the Allies from the Netherlands.
What are you mapping? Do you have a specialisation?
Now I am loading the GRB (2) buildings in Belsele as well as mapping the streams in Sinaai. To be able to use the GRB data, I work with JOSM. That is pretty much my only speciality.
What is your greatest achievement as mapper?
My greatest pride is without doubt the mapping of Snoa (3). It is my home village and it feels good to see that it has finally reached a high level in terms of buildings, waterways and so on.
My second pride is the Hollandstellung. This is because I know that the mapping will give this historically often forgotten heritage a place in the collective memory of local residents.
Why are you mapping? What motivates you?
Flanders is a backward and anything but homogeneously mapped region. I feel obliged as a geographer, and avid user of the data, to complete it, with knowledge of the terrain.
Do you have any ideas to expand the OpenStreetMap community, to motivate more people to contribute?
Personally, I am a big fan of involving the government. They already have a lot of spatial data. So make them accessible.
Do you have contact with other mappers?
Through the OpenStreetMap community in Belgium, they are there when I have problems. Which is very heart-warming. I also talk sometimes with other mappers from the Waasland area.
What is in your view the greatest strength of OpenStreetMap?
The amount of details!
What are the largest challenges for OpenStreetMap?
Funnily enough, detail is also OpenStreetMap’s biggest enemy. There are a lot of inconsistencies how certain things should be mapped. : The community is trying to standardise this for Belgium, but that remains a pity as the data cannot be compared internationally.
How to do stay on top of news about OpenStreetMap?
Through the community, although it has to be said that I don’t follow it too much.
To conclude, is there anything else you want to share with the readers?
I can only recommend it to beginning mappers to start with the home region. It is so satisfying to be able to share your world with others!

Thank you, Gpoilvet, for this interview.

Translated from Dutch by Pierre Parmentier with the help of

(1) Waasland: (2) GRB: Grootschalig Referentie Bestand i.e. basemap in Flanders (3) Snoa is the local dialect for my former home village of Sinaai. Snoars are inhabitants of Sinaai.