The UN Mapper of the month - January 2024

Introducing Justo Gómez Vaello, from Spain, our Mapper of the Month for January 2024. Justo, a Geomatics and Surveying Engineer, has showcased exceptional mapping skills and active participation during our Global training in Spanish.  

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Justo Gómez Vaello, and I live in Chiclana de la Frontera, Spain. I am a Geomatics and Surveying Engineer, and although I have been working in an engineering firm for some time, currently I am preparing for a civil service exam to become a geographer engineer with the Instituto Geográfico Nacional. 

How did you know about UN Mappers?
I was completely unaware of the existence of UN Mappers until I received an email from the Valencia and Murcia delegation of the College of Engineers in Geomatics and Surveying, which, in turn, referred to the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia and mentioned a course. I read about the course and found it interesting, and that was the first time I had heard of UN Mappers. 

You participated in our global training in Spanish. How did it seem to you? Which topic did you find the most interesting? 
I found the training to be very interesting. I was aware of the existence of OSM, but I had never had the opportunity to study its functioning; for this reason, this training has opened my mind to this knowledge. I acquired all of my current wisdom of OSM and JOSM in this course. I believe that it was very beneficial, as it covered virtually all of the functions necessary for mapping areas of the planet.  

Professionally, I believe that the extraction of data from OSM for use with other applications was extremely revealing and useful for me. I had performed the operation a few years ago, but at that time, I had to create my own database management system (which was quite time-consuming). Therefore, seeing that the operation could be performed in a faster and simpler way has meant acquiring very useful knowledge and significant time savings. 

When do you map? (Weekends, free time, in your working time?)As I mentioned, I am preparing for a civil service exam, which takes up a lot of my time. Therefore, I typically engage in mapping at night—not every day, but for most of them. 

Do you enjoy mapping? Why?
Although I have many interests, my passion for maps has been with me for as long as I can remember. It was probably one of the reasons why I chose to study cartography. Cartography is a magical discipline. It doesn't just help us see how the world is, but also how it was and how it will likely be. 

The satellite image restitution carried out in these projects has a double meaning for me. On the one hand, I experience a pleasant sensation at a human level, knowing that people from very different backgrounds and countries are participating in the same work to collaborate on a common goal, contributing their small grains of sand to help other people whom I will never meet. On the other hand, it provides a small tour of other countries that brings a broad perspective; by mapping them, I gain an understanding of how they live, their environment, and the topography and natural systems of other parts of the planet." 

In which countries do you map the most?
Generally, I have dedicated myself to UN Mappers missions (Somalia, Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo), but I have also devoted some time to mapping in Spain, specifically in my city. Although it is quite complete, there is still a high level of generalization. 


Justo Gómez Vaello