Author Archives: Marjan Van de Kauter

International Women’s Day: Meet Geoladies PH

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day (IWD)–the perfect time to celebrate* the many women in OSM, as well as the contributions they make to the map and the community. And what better way to do this than to put a couple of these ladies in the spotlight: Geoladies PH.

(*Psssst: want to join other members of the community in honoring IWD? Scroll down to the end of this post for a list of celebratory mapping events you can still sign up for.)

The Philippine Geoladies group was established in 2019, when they held their first workshop at the Pista ng Mapa conference in Dumaguete. They “advocate for community diversity, collaborative participation, and affirmative spaces, especially for women and under-represented communities”. We had a chat with the core team to learn about all the activities they’re doing to work towards this goal.

Charmyne Mamador is leading Ausome Maps, a project funded by She Leads and She Inspires (SLSI). The SLSI program was launched by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team’s (HOT) Open Mapping Hub – Asia Pacific at the end of 2021 and helped 100 women in multiple countries grow as leaders within their open mapping communities. Over the course of 6 months, they received training, mentoring and guidance in creating and leading a community project. At the end of the program, ten of these projects received funding, including Ausome Maps. The goal of Ausome is to map schools with special education (SPED) classes and therapy clinics in the Philippines. This will help the families of differently abled children find the support they need.

Another core member of Geoladies PH is Leigh Lunas, known as the group’s drone expert. She teaches students how to code and fly drones. Currently she is involved in the Bahaghari Maps initiative, aimed at creating usable trail maps for Philippine hikers.

Feye Andal is Geoladies’ Disaster Response Mapper and serves as a Regional Ambassador for YouthMappers in the Asia Pacific region. (Fun fact: in 2022, 45% of YouthMappers were women.) Recently Feye has been working with the UPRI (University of the Philippines Resilience Institute) YouthMappers on mapping and validating the areas affected by the Turkey and Syria earthquake.

Next up is Geolady Jen Alconis. One of her main projects has been to map all publicly accessible breastfeeding stations in the Philippines. This way, she could give back to her breastfeeding support group, but also to fellow mothers in general.

Geoladies PH member Andi Tabinas is the founder of Mental Health AWHEREness PH, a non-profit organization promoting mental health awareness through information, education, communication, and mapping mental health facilities and services.

Last but not least is Arnalie Vicario. Like her fellow ladies, she’s an advocate for diversity and inclusion, as well as for sustainable living and, at the end of 2022, she was one of the women elected to the OpenStreetMap Foundation Board.

Interested in learning even more about Geoladies PH? Check out their Facebook page.

Feel like meeting the ladies in real life? They regularly organize sessions and workshops to empower women to map. Tomorrow, on International Women’s Day, you will find them at the YouthMappers-organized Everywhere She Maps event in Manila (as well as online).

Of course, this is not the only mapping event dedicated to IWD. Below are some more opportunities to celebrate our female community members.

Want to find out how the rest of the world is honoring this special day? For the third year, Geochicas and Feminist International have created a global map of actions and activities around International Women’s Day. If you would like an event to be added, please share the details including the exact location with the Geochicas Twitter account.

Who map the world? Girls!

Mapping for Cyclists and Hikers: Flemish Tourism Organisations Join Forces with OSM Belgium

Last March saw the launch of the Pin je punt project (“Pin your point”). The aim of this tourism-focused mapping campaign is to augment OpenStreetMap with points of interest for hikers and cyclists, specifically in the Belgian region of Flanders. Pin je punt is a collaboration between Toerisme Vlaanderen/Visit Flanders (the region’s official tourism administration), the provincial tourism organisations and OpenStreetMap Belgium.

A partnership like this has a lot of potential to increase awareness about OpenStreetMap, and convince organisations and individuals to hop on the OSM train. So of course we wanted to know more. How did this collaboration come about? What has been achieved? And what can OSM as a community learn from a project like this?

To get an answer to these questions, we sat down with Pieter Vander Vennet (OSM Belgium) and Jos Pyck (project manager for Pin je Punt at Visit Flanders). This post is a reflection of those conversations.

Pieter Vander Vennet
Jos Pyck

What is the goal?

The Flemish tourism agencies want to enrich OpenStreetMap with as many points of interests as possible in the following categories:

  • Charging stations for e-bikes
  • (Public) toilets
  • Benches and picnic tables
  • Observation towers
  • Bicycle repair stations
  • Bicycle rentals
  • Playgrounds

The data should be complete enough so it can be used to improve route planning applications for hikers and cyclists, possibly even printed maps.

How did it start?

Back in the winter of 2020-2021, Visit Flanders was contacted by route planning developers looking for datasets to improve their services for cyclists and hikers. Triggered in large by the COVID pandemic, this target audience had grown into a large community with varying needs: hikers in search of public toilets now that restaurants and bars were closed, young families looking for playgrounds, e-bikers in need of charging stations, …

Unfortunately, no Flemish dataset was available to meet these requirements. The Flemish tourism organisations did have open datasets, but they were incomplete and spread across the five provinces. The solution? Using OpenStreetMap to unify, improve and maintain these different datasets.

Through the local cyclist organisation Fietsambassade Gent, Visit Flanders came into contact with Pieter Vander Vennet, who had developed the MapComplete editor and had already worked with a couple of government agencies. They formed a core working group with other OSM Belgium users Joost Schouppe and Seppe Santens (also ICT manager at the West-Flemish tourism organisation Westtoer, the only provincial agency with previous OSM experience). And just like that, Pin je punt was born.

How is the data added to OSM?

The existing datasets of the provincial tourism organisations were loaded and the objects converted into notes, which can be validated by users one by one. Of course new data points can be added as well. Validation and editing occurs in a custom theme in Pieter’s MapComplete tool, enabling users to edit specific POI categories in OSM in a user-friendly way. This makes it the perfect fit for the Pin je punt campaign, which is also aimed at users without OSM experience. Visit Flanders invited all Flemish province and municipality employees to start editing, and even launched a media campaign to reach the general public. (The promo video featuring a former Flemish radio presenter (in Dutch only) is, as far as Pieter knows, the first professional commercial encouraging contributions to OpenStreetMap!)

Of course, as new users are attracted, it is important to keep an eye on the quality of their work. For that reason, volunteers of the Belgian OSM community monitor the edits made in Pin je punt.

A bicycle pump in the Pin je punt MapComplete theme

What are the results and takeaways?

The Pin je punt campaign officially concluded at the end of April 2022. During the 1,5-month-long project run, the imports of the provincial datasets and the edits made by many tourism organisation employees and other users resulted in about 1,500 new points being created in OpenStreetMap. Since the Pin je punt MapComplete theme remains available, these users can continue to improve the data in their municipalities.

But the potential effects of Pin je punt extend far beyond an increased number of POIs for hikers and cyclists. The campaign also has the capability to increase awareness about OpenStreetMap and its possibilities outside of the OSM community, and to encourage more organisations to start using OSM.

Pin je punt has convinced one person in particular of OpenStreetMap’s strengths: project manager Jos Pyck of Visit Flanders. He used to be sceptical about using OSM, as he–despite his GIS background–deemed it far too technically complex. But this campaign has turned him into a true OSM believer. He’s impressed by the sheer size of the database and the fact that anything can be captured in it. And his pleasant experience with the helpful community even resulted in Visit Flanders becoming a corporate member of OSM Belgium.

Jos is very interested in expanding the Pin je punt theme with more tourism-related layers in the future, for instance bars, restaurants, drinking fountains, … He has even made it his mission to encourage other government agencies and municipalities to invest (more) in OSM, instead of setting up and maintaining their own limited, siloed databases. The five provincial tourism organisations involved in Pin je punt are already on board. Four of them had no previous experience with OpenStreetMap, and this project convinced them that the OSM community can produce a dataset superior to theirs. The experience really lowered the barrier for them to use OSM again in the future. Hopefully the results of Pin je punt can win over other public organisations as well.

Collaborations like these can also be a learning experience for the OpenStreetMap community. As a former outsider, Jos Pyck had some interesting insights to share. Though he is now an avid fan of OSM, he still believes it is difficult for newcomers to start using the map, as they are intimidated by how technical it looks. This outsider perspective had a positive impact on the look and feel of the MapComplete theme created for Pin je punt. While Jos’s team members were trying out the first versions of the theme, they formulated some comments about the user-friendliness of the tool. Pieter Vander Vennet took their feedback to make the tool as simple, easy to use and promotable as possible. Note that it can be reused outside of Flanders–the project team already saw some edits popping up in the rest of Belgium, the Netherlands, France, the UK, …

One particular observation Jos made while venturing into the world of OpenStreetMap, is the small number of women in the community. He points out that his colleagues who tested the MapComplete theme were all female and therefore had a different perspective on usability, which helped tweak the tool substantially. According to Jos, OSM would very much profit from getting more women on board.

Want to find out more?

This blog post points to many interesting links providing more information about the Pin je punt project and the people involved. If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to Jos Pyck, Pieter Vander Vennet and Joost Schouppe at

Want to contribute?

Though the Pin je punt project officially concluded at the end of April, all contributions to help cyclists and hikers in Flanders are still very much welcome. So don’t hesitate to head to the Pin je punt MapComplete theme (in Dutch only) and start mapping!

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