The Atlanta Mapathon –Taking it to the Streets!

Last weekend the city of Atlanta, Georgia was taken over by a group of more than 150 OpenStreetMap members who gathered to kick-off the citywide effort to make Atlanta the most digitally mapped city in America. Despite the unseasonably cold weather, the Atlanta Mapathon was fun and productive.

Prior to the event, a feature article covering the Mapathon appeared on the BBC website and quickly became the 3rd most read story and fourth most forwarded the day it came out. Interviews with Steve Coast about the event also appeared on CNN Radio Network (which has 2,000 affiliates worldwide) and The Atlanta Journal Constitution, the main regional paper in Atlanta.

On Friday, October 16, Paul Jarratt and I meet the Atlanta iPhone & iTouch Developers Meetup Group at the Gordon Biersch Brewery for pizza, beer and a great presentation explaining the cool ways OSM and CloudMade maps can be used in iPhone and other mobile applications. The turn out for this event was fantastic and topics of discussion ranged from reverse geocoding to stylizing maps. I can’t wait to see the innovative ways this amazing group of developers will use the data being collected by mappers.

The next day, marked the first day of widespread mapping. More than 70 volunteers met at 8 locations across Atlanta. Atlanta-Fulton County Public Libraries generously donated space in 8  library branches for mappers to meet. The Mapathon Headquarters, located at Central Library in downtown Atlanta was a hive of activity. Due to the sporadic drizzle and chilly temperatures, mappers popped in and out of the HQ throughout the day. Some mappers even stayed inside to work on importing data for Ga Tech and other local universities. The crucial behind the scenes work done by these volunteers to streamline the imports process will make it easier for individual mappers, universities and small/mid-sized municipal departments to share their data with the community via OSM. Below are a few snapshots taken by OSM members while they roamed the streets of Atlanta recording points of interest, public amenities and other features that make Atlanta special.

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The Mapathon continued on Sunday with mapping parties being held at 4 AFPL branches. Attendance was fantastic with over 60 mappers combing the streets of Atlanta looking for cool points of interest to add to the map. Many of the partner organizations who joined OSM to put Atlanta on the map came out with their members to show their support of open data and contribute to the project. These same organizations are now taking the lead in establishing a sustainable mapping community to continue the work that was begun during the Mapathon. You can find out how to join the Atlanta Mapping Initiative by visiting the Atlanta wiki page or registering for the new OpenStreetMap Georgia talk-list.

Press coverage that followed included Fox 5 News in Atlanta which covered the entire weekend event and a feature article on Georgia Public Radio.

If you would like to learn more about throwing a mapping party in your community, please contact Thea Clay at thea@cloudmade.com.

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