Peer-to-peer mapping for disconnected environments

Byron South
Friday, 2:40pm – 20 min
Gregor MacLennan
Digital Democracy

We have built a decentralized peer-to-peer database that implements the OSM API, for mapping in offline environments. We have created a map editing tool, Mapeo, based on the OSM editor, iD, wrapped in an offline Electron app that includes the peer-to-peer database.

We are working with indigenous communities in Guyana, Peru and Ecuador who are using Mapeo and OSM-P2P to create territory maps which are used to assert ancestral land claims; challenge resource and land concessions; and demonstrate the environmental impacts of mining, oil drilling and logging.

Creating maps collaboratively is easy to do with pens and paper, but hard to do with computers. Existing mapping solutions require a steady internet connection or expert skills. OpenStreetMap has solved the challenge of collaboration with easy to use tools, but most require an internet connection, and the global OSM database is not the appropriate place for more sensitive community information.

This talk will discuss the challenges of collaborative mapping in offline environments using conventional tools, and how OSM-P2P and Mapeo makes this easier. We will discuss the technical underpinnings and challenges of building a peer-to-peer data model for OSM, and the open questions that we will be exploring in the months ahead.