23 Nov

Company Spotlight: Crowd2Map Tanzania Project

By: Abigail Vandenberg

The American Geographical Society had the privilege of meeting with Crowd2Map Tanzania’s founder, Ms. Janet Chapman. Chapman started this company six years ago after a decade working with Tanzania Development Trust. Her time with the trust revealed an enormous problem that is hard to imagine in today’s connected world: there were entire villages of thousands of people that did not appear on any maps. “It seemed like a solvable problem”, remarked Chapman. The limited accessibility to these regions left them underdeveloped and at more risk, especially in the context of FGM.

FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is the intentional altering or injuring of the female genitals for non-medical reasons. Some groups in Tanzania have historically performed these procedures, but FGM performed on minors under eighteen became illegal in 1998. That being said, FGM still takes place in Tanzania in secret and often at night in remote areas. Prior to Crowd2Map Tanzania, it was incredibly difficult for law enforcement and rescuers to reach FGM victims in time to stop the crime. Since 2015, Crowd2Map has utilized the OpenStreetMap platform to map these regions and fight to end FGM.

Just six years after its founding, Crowd2Map Tanzania now consists of a 16,900 strong network of remote mapping volunteers and over 5,000 knowledgeable local field mappers. There are now Youthmappers chapters in 16 different colleges in Tanzania.

Crowd2Map Interns

Volunteers have added over five million buildings covering over 120,358 square kilometers, including 232,585.73 km of road networks. There is still a long way to go, these statistics are growing daily as more virtual mappers join the cause.

The crowdsourced platform allows anyone with an internet connection to contribute to Crowd2Map Tanzania’s initiative. Volunteers can find projects through the HOT (Humanitarian OpenSteetMap Team) task manager. These tasks usually include outlining roads and buildings from satellite images of an area. There are various projects for volunteers to choose from and a Slack channel for mappers to connect and receive training. Once these tasks are validated, the Crowd2Map team on the ground in Tanzania will add detail to the maps using the Maps.Me app and their local knowledge. Volunteers are able to get digital badges for their achievements, and the satisfaction of knowing their efforts are helping to save young girls at risk of illegal FGM.

The expansive network of volunteers is critical to the efforts of Crowd2Map Tanzania. This network of digital champions are pushing the future of Tanzania and anti-FGM campaigns in a positive direction. Crowd2Map recently celebrated their sixth birthday with a mapathon, Happy Birthday Crowd2Map! If you would like to get involved with Crowd2Map Tanzania, please visit the links below to learn more. You can also find @Crowd2Map on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Get Involved
Crowd2Map Tanzania
Video: How Maps Are Preventing Female Genital Cutting