Mapper of the Month: dentonny (Belgium)
01.11.2023 - Pierre Parmentier
- Hello Bob. Would you like to briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
- First of all, thank you for the honour of contacting me as Mapper of the Month. My real name is Bob but I map under the pseudonym ‘dentonny’. I am 41 years old and live in Geel, in Belgium. Although I don’t consider myself an athlete, I try to be sporty as much as possible.
- How and when did you get to know OpenStreetMap?
- When I look up my very first changeset, it must have been in 2017. But here I actually remember very little about it. It is only since I bought a Garmin cycling computer in 2019 that I started looking into how to get better and more recent maps on this.
- How do you use OpenStreetMap?
- As I mentioned earlier, this is then my cycling computer or sports watch. But also on my smartphone via various apps: OsmAnd, StreetComplete, MapComplete. At home, I mainly use iD, but recently I am becoming more and more familiar with JOSM.
- What kind of contributor are you and in which area do you map?
- I am someone who loves precision and details, though. Sometimes I can spend hours correcting roads that are not in the right place. As well as benches, dustbins, trees. What is the surface of a road? Is it legally accessible? These adjustments are mainly done in and around Geel. But I also regularly go for walks in Limburg. Every time I get home after my walk, I check it with OpenStreetMap and adjust it where necessary. Either on the basis of pictures I took myself, or Mapillary, or my own memory. Although the latter sometimes fails.
- What are you mapping? Do you have a specialisation?
- First, the practical things I would like to know myself as a mapper or hiker. Ranging from rest areas and facilities, to small hidden paths in the woods or even in villages or towns. A few months ago, I also started helping with the project to import buildings from the Grootschalig Referentiebestand or Basiskaart Vlaanderen, the GRB. As a result, I started using JOSM more and more. I don’t think of my own as having a specialisation. It happens often enough that I ask the community for advice on how to map something. Fortunately, there is a mountain of knowledge and expertise.
- What is your greatest achievement as mapper?
- Last summer, the OpenStreetMap community allowed me to borrow a GoPro 360. Although this camera is primarily used to record 360° images and post them on Mapillary, it is because of this that I have already ended up in almost every little street and path in Geel so that I can also post these roads as detailed as possible on OpenStreetMap. Gladly, I would not want to stop at Geel of course, but this is something I need to see what is feasible first.
- Why are you mapping? What motivates you?
- Because OpenStreetMap is used for so many things like Strava, Komoot or Garmin, you actually indirectly reach very many people and services that benefit from it. I should not get personal recognition for this, hence the use of a pseudonym. But knowing this still gives me a lot of satisfaction.
- Do you have any ideas to expand the OpenStreetMap community, to motivate more people to contribute?
- It would be nice if the mappers were nicely spread across the map. Then we would have less trouble with areas that sometimes have not been updated for years as is sometimes the case now.
- Do you have contact with other mappers?
- I’m quite active in OpenStreetMap’s Belgian Matrix channel. Be sure to visit! Recently, I also met some mappers in real life.
- What is in your view the greatest strength of OpenStreetMap?
- In my opinion, OpenStreetMap’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Anyone can edit the map, regardless of his knowledge of it. This makes the threshold very low and allows you to grow quietly. But if errors happen, it can sometimes take a long time before they are noticed. Especially if nobody is active in that region.
- What are the largest challenges for OpenStreetMap?
- Not only looking for new mappers, but also keeping the current ones motivated in what they do. After all, they put in a lot of free time.
- How to do stay on top of news about OpenStreetMap?
- Most of the news I read does get shared in the chat.
- To conclude, is there anything else you want to share with the readers?
- Keep on mapping.
Thank you, Bob, for this interview.
Translated from Dutch by Pierre Parmentier with the help of www.DeepL.com/Translator.