Offline OSM for Indigenous People in Ecuador

Byron North
Saturday, 2:00pm – 5 min
Aliya Ryan
Digital Democracy

In the Ecuadorian Amazon the Waorani indigenous people are eighteen months into a five year mapping project. Their aim is to create maps that communicate the unique way they use and relate to territory, to help defend their land from external threats. They are doing this by collaboratively mapping hunting and fishing grounds, medicinal plants and historical and spiritual sites.

However, despite their desire for exactly the kind of simple and collaborative mapping that OSM offers, as it stands OSM is neither a possible nor completely suitable tool for them. Waorani communities lack cellphone and internet coverage and the nature of some of the GIS data makes it too culturally sensitive for automatic upload into an open-data situation.

Digital Democracy has developed an offline, open-source mapping tool, Mapeo, based on iD Editor, with edits stored in a local peer-to-peer database that implements the OSM API. The Waorani mapping team learnt Mapeo in one day, and now manage all their own data, choosing when and how to make it public.

This talk will describe the Waorani’s mapping process, and the benefits which an offline peer-to-peer database can offer to use-cases within the OSM community.