Mapper of the Month: Nicxon Piaso (Papua New Guinea)
01.06.2022 - Pierre Parmentier
Hello Nicxon. Would you like to briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
I am a Land Surveyor by profession with a Degree in Surveying from Papua New Guinea University of Technology. I work as a Mine Surveyor and part of my role includes mapping using 3D software. I also have interest in open-source mapping whereby maps can be readily accessible by all.
How and when did you get to know OpenStreetMap?
I came to know OpenStreetMap in 2006 but was not really interested as I have no knowledge of it and also in Papua New Guinea, not many Mappers know about OpenStreetMap and its many benefits to the wider society. After going to OpenStreetMap and seeing that most of Papua New Guinea was unmapped especially in my Province, I started populating maps in my town eventually going out to other towns in the country.
How do you use OpenStreetMap?
I use OpenStreetMap by going through F4map.com as I also do virtual tours — for storytelling maps — and 3D models which are generated as 3D buildings in F4 Map, which seems fitting for me to use in my story-maps.
What kind of contributor are you and in which area do you map?
I am a general contributor and I map mostly in Papua New Guinea especially in the Provinces that I travel around in.
What are you mapping? Do you have a specialisation?
I map everything for buildings,recreational areas, roads, land-use, etc. which have not been mapped in my country, Papua New Guinea. I have not specialised yet in any area as yet as most of areas in Papua New Guinea are not yet fully mapped in OpenStreetMap. Once all is done, then I might look at specialisation.
What is your greatest achievement as mapper?
My greatest achievement as Mapper is seeing most like-minded guys in OpenStreetMap giving feedbacks and being in a network who appreciate our work we are doing by sharing great suggestions for improvement of OpenStreetMap mapping.
Why are you mapping? What motivates you?
I map because I see that most of Papua New Guinea is still unmapped whereas compared to other parts of the world, where there are more Mappers than found in this country. Also I see that most of OpenStreetMap Maps are used as base maps for humanitarian mapping work especially in disasters and my input in OpenStreetMap in Papua New Guinea will play a part, who knows when disaster may strike here and maps become scarce. Also most maps in Papua New Guinea are kept by Government and are not made readily available to the wider community who is disadvantaged. I saw that need and became active in mapping using OpenStreetMap starting from my hometown, Mendi in the Southern Highlands Province, eventually working towards other provinces.
Do you have any ideas to expand the OpenStreetMap community, to motivate more people to contribute?
I still promote OpenStreetMap mapping to get guys especially Surveyors, GIS Techs and Cartographers who are my friends on my Social media page, like Facebook or Instagram or YouTube, to contribute to OpenStreetMap mapping for common good. Some have responded that they would but most and still not actively participating as I do.
Do you have contact with other mappers?
Yes, I do have contacts with some mappers in Papua New Guinea and even some have shown interest in my work by sending me messages to collaborate on some innovative mapping projects, for example on Software Engineer asked if we can work on electoral ward mapping (1) using LeafletJS in Papua New Guinea, but due to work commitments, I said I can not travel.
What is in your view the greatest strength of OpenStreetMap?
The greatest advantage is that it can easily be accessed by Mappers, even volunteers to do mapping in their areas of interest. The other greatest strength is it can also be integrated with other third party programs, such as Mapillary or KartaView, to take OpenStreetMap mapping to next level. I appreciate other third party developers who are putting much effort in doing integration with OpenStreetMap.
What are the largest challenges for OpenStreetMap?
I don’t think there are any challenges as OpenStreetMap is open-source and Developers are still improving it. I hope to see basic automated-classification of land features being integrated (especially forested area, grasslands, cultivated fields (plantations etc.) soils etc., which are clearly distinguishable on the satellite image), such as in standard Remote Sensing packages. This will sort out repetitive task of manual digitizing. Otherwise, OpenStreetMap is still open for committed developers who are assisting us as end-users who will update maps using OpenStreetMap as platform.
How to do stay on top of news about OpenStreetMap?
I am also a fan on OpenStreetMap in Facebook and other third party programs that utilise OpenStreetMap platform for integrations.
To conclude, is there anything else you want to share with the readers?
I feel that OpenStreetMap is a blessing to most of us as mappers as most other software programs are paid and you can not access these maps unless you pay to use the hard copy maps. Also there are limitations as most maps are mostly owned by Government mapping agencies, making it really difficult for common citizen to access these maps. I’d like to say thank you to the developers who are behind the development and work tirelessly, selflessly to improve OpenStreetMap for us especially in disadvantaged countries who might not been able to access maps for our use. Also thanks to all my friends on OpenStreetMap who send me positive comments and also forging a friendship in the OpenStreetMap family of mappers all around the world, with who maybe working in isolation but due to such networks, our isolated mapping works are being recognised by like-minded mappers who appreciate our work.
Thank you, Nicxon, for this interview.
(1) electoral ward mapping i.e. mapping out small council wards; see Ward (electoral subdivision)