The UN Mapper of the month - March 2023

Our mappers of the month for March are Said Turksever and the entire OSM Türkiye community, for the invaluable coordination and mapping work done in the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Syria and Türkiye on the 6th of February 2023. We asked Said to tell us how the coordination was carried out and what were the main challenges faced. 

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a passionate Geomatics Engineer, OpenStreetMap contributor and community builder. I love building maps and solving community problems by using my geospatial knowledge. I am a strong believer that open data brings creativity, innovation and freedom to society. I evangelize open data initiatives and develop the OSM community growth strategies for Türkiye.

Currently, I am working as Project Manager at Meta’s Mapping team and based in London, United Kingdom. I support Meta’s open mapping community effort across the globe and coordinating community activities and supporting partner organizations.

Can you describe how you engaged with other mappers in Türkiye to coordinate the earthquake response on OSM?
I am one of the early active OpenStreetMap contributors and community builders in Türkiye. I am part of Yer Çizenler NGO, which promotes raising awareness of geo-data and growing the OpenStreetMap community in Türkiye.  

OSM Türkiye community uses Telegram channel for all community related discussion, it was one of the primary channels where we spread our Call to Action for Türkiye and Syria Earthquakes Mapping Response.  

We immediately started daily marathons hosted on YouTube Live where we trained new mappers for contributing to HOTOSM activated tasks on the Tasking Manager. In order to make communication instant and accessible for everyone, we moved to Whatsapp Community for providing instant mapper support. Our Whatsapp community grew +1000 mappers in a few days. 

I also used Twitter proactively to activate the global OpenStreetMap Community and asked for help on Day 0 after the earthquakes. 

In conclusion; Youtube, Telegram, Whatsapp and Twitter were key platforms where we interacted and shared updates with mappers in Türkiye and across the world. 

How OSM data has been used for this situation?
Open geodata is critical for responding to disasters during emergency and recovery response. OpenStreetMap data has been used for supporting rescue teams and humanitarian effort, understanding damage and decision making during recovery activities.  

It was an indescribable feeling to hear back from rescue teams (AKUT and AFAD) that they were using building footprints from OpenStreetMap.  

OpenStreetMap data played a key role in understanding the damage in the affected areas as well as having an up-to-date map of the area mapped by thousands of volunteers. UNHRC, IFRC and Turkish Red Crescents are actively using OpenStreetMap data for their web maps and map products. There is also significant jump on OSM Türkiye dataset downloads on

What was the most challenging thing during this response? 
Acquiring post-event satellite and/or aerial imagery is crucial for emergency response to map collapsed buildings to support rescue teams on the field. Due to cloudy conditions, it takes a few days to be able to access post-event satellite images. Having no access or limited access to post-event satellite and/or aerial imagery was the most challenging part during emergency response. One of the biggest lessons for our community is to collaborate with drone pilot communities to address this challenge.

The second most important challenge is to address validation and data quality. Everyone wants to support map editing and be a volunteer during disaster responses. However, maintaining data quality is tedious work and it requires advanced mappers to keep it sustainable. As OSM Türkiye, we spent reasonable time during mapping responses to deliver validation training in Turkish and actively ask validation support from the global OSM Community.

When do you map? (Weekends, free time, in your working time?) 
I am mapping mostly during my free time. I am also mapping on my mobile with mobile editing tools to improve POI coverage and their accessibility attributes. I love using pocket times and making them useful for contributing to OpenStreetMap. 

Do you enjoy mapping? Why?
My path crossed with OpenStreetMap in 2011 during my bachelor studies. I was looking for a building footprint to generate a contextual 3D model of my university campus. I figured it out I could map my university campus on OpenStreetMap and use this data for my project. This is where I got to know OpenStreetMap. Since then, I have been contributing as well as supporting community growth in Türkiye.  I love mapping and the OSM Community itself! 

In which countries do you map the most?
I’m mostly mapping Türkiye and the United Kingdom.  





Said Turksever