Mapper of the Month: Ivan Lievens (Belgium)

- Pierre Parmentier

His homepage and his contribution page.

Hello Ivan. Would you like to briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
I am 57 years old, married and the father of two children. I live in Hofstade, part of Aalst.
How and when did you get to know OpenStreetMap?
To my great surprise, I have had an account on since 29 August 2008. I have been using GPS for years on my motorbike (Garmin Zümo 550, 590, XT), in the car (Garmin Nüvi 2699) and on my bicycle (Garmin Edge 705). This is mainly to make nice round trips instead of going from A to B as fast as possible. It is mainly because of the bicycle GPS that I started looking for an alternative for the expensive and also outdated official topographic maps. I have found it on
How do you use OpenStreetMap?
Outside on bicycles, mostly indirectly via websites that use OpenStreetMap maps as a basis (RouteYou, MRA route planner, etc.).
What kind of contributor are you and in which area do you map?
I am mainly involved in importing buildings from GRB (1). At the moment, I am in the centre of Aalst, but I am also active in Greater Aalst, Lede and I have also been active in Watou and Lo-Reninge.
What are you mapping? Do you have a specialisation?
Mainly buildings.
What is your greatest achievement as mapper?
Nothing special actually.
Why are you mapping? What motivates you?
It started with noticing that in my own neighbourhood, there were almost no buildings in OpenStreetMap and in the neighbouring town there were. I wanted to help fill this void.
Do you have any ideas to expand the OpenStreetMap community, to motivate more people to contribute?
It is sometimes a bit like a secret and fairly closed society and, as a beginner, it is occasionally a difficult search for the right information. I got my biggest boost through a video chat with Joost Schouppe. Perhaps some instructional videos on YouTube or similar would be useful for many.
Do you have contact with other mappers?
Yes, mainly via OpenStreetMap Belgium groups on
What is in your view the greatest strength of OpenStreetMap?
To want to do better together.
What are the largest challenges for OpenStreetMap?
Guaranteeing quality on a platform where everyone can pretty much do their own thing. Due to ignorance, many mistakes may be made, including by me!
How to do stay on top of news about OpenStreetMap?
Mainly through the groups mentioned above.
To conclude, is there anything else you want to share with the readers?
Keep on mapping! Although I must admit that this is mainly an activity during the winter months. Apart from that, it is somewhat addictive once you get the hang of it.

Thank you, Ivan, for this interview.

Translated from Dutch by Claire Muyllaert and Pierre Parmentier with the help of

(1) GRB: Grootschalig Referentie Bestand i.e. basemap in Flanders