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United States

Open Mapping (US0079)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United States Action Plan 2015-2017

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: State Department

Support Institution(s): Peace Corps; The U.S. Agency for International Development; The Department of the Interior; The U.S. Geological Survey

Policy Areas

Access to Information, E-Government, Open Data, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: United States End-of-Term IRM Report 2015-2017, United States Mid-Term Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Engaging communities to use open mapping platforms ensures the widest possible benefit of geographic data and improved public services for individuals and communities using that data. The Administration will expand interagency collaboration and coordination with the open mapping community to promote the use of open mapping data in both domestic and international applications. Specifically, the State Department will continue and expand its public diplomacy program for open mapping, MapGive. Additionally, the Peace Corps will train volunteers to collaborate with their host communities on using and contributing to open mapping platforms. The U.S. Agency for International Development will promote the use of open mapping platforms in its programs and through data creation and youth engagement initiatives like Mapping for Resilience. The Department of the Interior will continue to promote the use of open mapping technologies to manage and share data in interactive map capabilities, including in production of the National Park Service’s digital map program’s web and mobile products. The U.S. Geological Survey will also continue crowdsourcing mapping efforts.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 27. Open Mapping

Commitment Text:

Collaborate with Citizen and Global Cartographers in Open Mapping

Engaging communities to use open mapping platforms ensures the widest possible benefit of geographic data and improved public services for individuals and communities using that data. The Administration will expand interagency collaboration and coordination with the open mapping community to promote the use of open mapping data in both domestic and international applications. Specifically, the State Department will continue and expand its public diplomacy program for open mapping, MapGive. Additionally, the Peace Corps will train volunteers to collaborate with their host communities on using and contributing to open mapping platforms. The U.S. Agency for International Development will promote the use of open mapping platforms in its programs and through data creation and youth engagement initiatives like Mapping for Resilience. The Department of the Interior will continue to promote the use of open mapping technologies to manage and share data in interactive map capabilities, including in production of the National Park Service’s digital map program’s web and mobile products. The U.S. Geological Survey will also continue crowdsourcing mapping efforts.

Responsible Institutions: Peace Corps, Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, United States Geological Survey (USGS)

Supporting Institutions: Academia, civil society organizations, humanitarian aid organizations, and students

Start Date: Not Specified ....... End Date: Not Specified

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to have the government undertake a variety of activities to promote the development and use of open mapping data, with the goal of facilitating improvements in public service delivery.

Status

Midterm: Complete

At the midterm, progress on this commitment was complete, with various government agencies carrying out activities related to open mapping:

  • The US State Department expanded activities falling under its MapGive program, [385] such as hiring 30 virtual interns to work with OpenStreetMap data and holding a three-day mapathon. [386]
  • The US Agency for International Development continued to provide high-resolution commercial satellite imagery to respond to humanitarian disasters, [387] and trained staff to use geospatial data to promote international development. [388]
  • The Peace Corps held a series of mapathons using OpenStreetMap, [389] and, per the government’s midterm self-assessment report, [390] continued to train its volunteers to better utilize open mapping data, with an eye toward furthering their work in host communities.
  • The US Department of the Interior, through NPMap, [391] continues to work with the public to update map data for National Parks, and released a beta version of Park Tiles 3, a new platform for visualizing park maps. [392]
  • The US Geological Survey has continued its efforts to crowdsource structural data for maps through its National Map Corps. [393]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Civic Participation: Marginal

This commitment marginally opened government with respect to access to information and civic participation by contributing to the creation of additional open mapping data and facilitating volunteers’ ability to contribute to and utilize such data. The early results produced by the activities carried out under this commitment—which include adding 50,000 data points to MapGive, mapping existing infrastructure in several countries, and engaging a combined total of roughly 50 interns and volunteers in open mapping efforts, among others—are described further in the progress report, and illustrate the potential benefits of open mapping data with respect to improving public service delivery. [394]

In response to a request for comment by the IRM researcher, Mikel Maron, Board Member of the OpenStreetMap Foundation, affirmed the progress made on this commitment, noting that he has “seen very good progress over the past two years since this commitment was made, particularly at [the Department of] State and USAID,” and noting further that “other governments have been influenced by this commitment—most recently Canada, [which] has begun an interagency and community initiative to map all buildings in Canada openly by 2020.” [395]  However, as described in the progress report, the majority of these activities built upon existing work, as opposed to representing entirely new initiatives, and therefore constitute only a marginal opening of government relative to the status quo. To facilitate greater government openness, new open mapping initiatives or significant expansions of existing ones would be required.

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing, the US government had not published its fourth national action plan, so it is unclear if this commitment will be carried forward. The government should nevertheless continue to support open mapping initiatives that are geared towards developing and using open mapping data, with a particular emphasis on the creation of new initiatives and the expansion of successful existing ones. In this regard, Mikel Maron of OpenStreetMap Foundation similarly highlights the potential for a greater “advocacy role of the value of open mapping within other countries” as part of US open mapping initiatives. [396]

[385] Gertin, Thomas and Rory Nealon. “The Reality is Virtual: US College Students Assist MapGive and USAID.” State of the Map US https://2016.stateofthemap.us/the-reality-is-virtual/. Consulted 24 June 2017. See also MapGive. “Events” page. Available at: https://mapgive.state.gov/events/. Consulted 24 June 2017.

[386] For details on the Mapathon, see “AAG Mapathon.” 30 March – 1 April 2016. http://2016.aagmapathon.org/. Consulted 24 June 2017.

[387] “Imagery to the Crowd.” MapGive. https://mapgive.state.gov/ittc/. Consulted 24 June 2017.

[388] Sinton, Diana S. “The USAID GeoCenter: Innovation Through Professional Development and Community Partnerships.” 9 March 2016. Directions Magazine. http://www.directionsmag.com/entry/usaid-geocenter/464615. Consulted 24 June 2017.

[389] Maron, Mikel. “See You at the Peace Corps Mapathon.” 9 March 2016. MapBox Blog on Medium.com. https://www.mapbox.com/blog/peace-corps-mapathon/. Consulted 24 June 2017. See the details for the various mapathons here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/peace-corps-mapathon-tickets-25867652846; https://www.eventbrite.com/e/innovating-with-open-geographic-data-an-openstreetmap-mapathon-tickets-25329067924; and https://www.eventbrite.com/e/innovating-with-open-geographic-data-a-peace-corps-mapathon-tickets-25951036248.

[390] Open Government Partnership. “United States of America Midterm Self-Assessment Report for the Open Government Partnership: Third Open Government National Action Plan, 2015–2017.” pp.29-30. September 2016. https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/USA_NAP3_self-assessment-report_20160916.pdf. Consulted 5 October 2017.

[391] “NPMap.” National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/npmap/. Consulted 24 June 2017.

[392] “New Styles for Park Tiles 3.” NPMap Blog. 21 March 2016. https://www.nps.gov/npmap/blog/. Consulted 5 October 2017.

[393] US Geological Survey National Map Corps. https://nationalmap.gov/TheNationalMapCorps/. Consulted 24 June 2017. For additional discussion, see US Geological Survey. “The National Map Corps: Newsletters.” https://nationalmap.gov/TheNationalMapCorps/newsletters.html. Consulted 24 June 2017; and US Geological Survey. “The National Map Corps: Past Mapping Challenges,” https://my.usgs.gov/confluence/display/nationalmapcorps/Past+Mapping+Challenges. Consulted 24 June 2017.

[394] Independent Reporting Mechanism. “IRM United States Progress Report 2015–2016.” http://bit.ly/2FhSe18.

[395] Written comments provided to the IRM researcher by Mikel Maron. 17 October 2017.

[396] Ibid.


Commitments

Open Government Partnership