The July Geo DC meetup is tonight - Wednesday, July 11 - starting at 7:00 pm at Stetson’s, and will focus on how anyone can create maps and contribute to existing map data sources with simple tools like smart phones, GPS devices, and even balloons. This is especially relevant for open geo datasets like OpenStreetMap, where people contribute to grow the map, and even apps like foursquare that rely on users adding locations to “check in” to.

Nate will give some specific steps on how people can contribute to OpenStreetMap using tools like Walking Papers, Field Papers, GPS devices, Potlatch, and JOSM. He’ll talk about how he led a team of first time mappers in Almaty, Kazakhstan to take down previously unmapped road names, bus stops, ATMs, some buildings, and building addresses and teach them how to add them to OpenStreetMap. If you’re curious, you can test out the approach this Sunday here in Washington, DC at an OpenStreetMap Mapping Party.

There will be two other talks on DIY mapping approaches, including one by foursquare super user Elliott Plack on how to contribute to location-centric apps like foursquare (and why) and how to translate that into other mapping datasets, such as seen by the surge of foursquare users contributing to OpenStreetMap after their switch from Google Maps.

Finally Willie Shubert will talk about how to use balloons to take aerial photography and map it using common household tools, and the situations in which this can be critical and those when it’s just fun. Willie teaches a recurring class on this at Knowledge Commons DC.

Hope to see you at the meetup tonight! Geo DC meets once a month, usually on the first Wednesday of the month. For updates, follow @Geo_DC on Twitter or join the meetup group.