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Nigerian Volunteers Google Map their Capital, Despite Some Local Skepticism

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, February 15 2013

Abuja, Nigeria on Google Maps.

Reports have been coming in from the Google Map Maker initiative that was held in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja late last month, with Nigerians celebrating the project’s potential to improve commerce, navigability, and even public safety.  One of the map-up’s organizers wrote a blog post last week, collecting impressions from volunteers and Abuja citizens:

The participants were grouped into different teams, armed with printed satellite imagery of areas they are familiar with. While they move from one street to another, they tag each building on the imageries, inserted and adjusted roads, which they were able to upload on their various laptops when they get back to their convergence where wireless internet is been provided. This was the routine for four days!

“It was fun mapping my area, I enjoyed it” said the 18 year-old Python Programmer, Prince Robert Chetachukwu, a secondary school student... “I never knew my business can be open to the world online for free, please let me know when goes live – you are making history,” said an excited Mr. Jude, owner of Newton Parks and Resorts at Wuse Zone 4. 

GlobalPost noted that some populations in the Nigerian capital reacted to the volunteer army with discomfort.  A planned city, much of Abuja is still being built, often when residential already traditionally by villagers are torn down by the government; some thought the volunteers were surveyors.  Police forces, who are often the targets of criminal attacks, were also skeptical of the unusual presence on the streets – though once the mapmakers explained themselves, the project continued smoothly. 


Nigerian activists map Abuja in this report for VOA News.

Organizers say these efforts will add thousands of new locations to the digital map of Abuja, with a second event planned for early March. 

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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