A look back at the UN Maps training activities

The UN Maps project (initially called Unite Maps) was born in 2019, and the following year included training activities aimed at educating or empowering OSM communities to subsequently support the project in its mapping activities in support of partner peacekeeping missions.

Over these four years, the UN Maps crowdsourcing team has organized nearly 40 workshops for about 1,200 people from a wide range of groups and communities, in five different languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.

For a minority of the workshops, a member of the team went out into the field to meet with participants. This is particularly the case for universities near the UNGSC bases in Brindisi and Valencia, and sometimes beyond, in Italy and Spain, which regularly host a UN Maps workshop. Bamako in Mali and Nairobi in Kenya have also each hosted a UN Maps workshop as part of the UN conferences organized there.




Training with Universitat Jaume I in Castellon de la Plana, Spain, 2022


Training with United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) and OSM Kenya in Nairobi, Kenya, 2022



However, most of these UN Maps training workshops were organized online, initially in response to a request from a university, highschools or OSM community for specific reinforcement, tailored to the needs of the participants and the time they had available. These requests were sometimes specific, such as terrain mapping or river mapping after humanitarian disasters (in Morocco or Brazil), or advanced mapping techniques, such as how to represent land cover from imagery. However, the majority of requests focused on the basics of OpenStreetMap mapping, either in short formats lasting a few hours, or in long formats spread over at least 5 sessions with a total duration of between 10 and 18 hours.

From the end of 2022, the crowdsourcing team has decided, in light of past experience, that the long workshops will be open to anyone interested, without selection, at times that allow participation from early morning in Latin America and early evening in Central Asia. Academic institutions that still want to benefit from long training sessions have been invited to participate in these workshops.



RSIGST Kolkata 2023

Training with Radhanath Sikdar Institute of Geospatial Science and Technology (RSIGST), Kolkata, India, 2023


Global online training in Portuguese, 2023



The OpenStreetMap courses offered by the UN Maps crowdsourcing team (supported by documentation from the UN Maps Learning Hub as of 2022) cover more than image mapping techniques using the JOSM editor. Participants also learn about the OpenStreetMap project, its communities, documentation base, and governance. Longer courses always include a session on mapping tools in the field and another on retrieving OSM data using various tools. In some cases, time has even been set aside to trace the history of the use of OpenStreetMap in humanitarian and development work.

This year, following the launch of the course on validating OSM data in the Learning Hub at the end of 2023, the first UN Maps long course on this topic was organized, again open to all, although this time aimed more at advanced OSM mappers.



Burgos 2022

Training with Instituto Pintor Luis Saez, Burgos, Spain, 2022

ENSTP 2023

Training with Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Travaux Publics (ENSTP), Yaoundé, Cameroon, 2023



The Crowdsourcing UN Maps team does not issue certificates of attendance to each participant in its workshops: for training courses lasting at least 6 hours, it has chosen to issue a certificate of completion to all those who have not only completed the training, but also made the various contributions requested during the course of the sessions. This approach is designed to ensure that the lessons have been properly assimilated and has allowed us to truly develop the skills of all those who have actively participated in these training courses. Beyond the training period and the final evaluation, participants can continue to communicate with each other and with the UN Maps crowdsourcing team on the UN Mappers Discord server to ask technical questions or communicate about their OpenStreetMap and UN Maps related activities.

If you or your community are interested in organizing a training course with us, please send an email to un.mappers@un.org.