Tomorrow I’m traveling to Almaty, Kazakhstan for Tech Forum Central Asia, where I’ll be leading hands on trainings on our open source mapping tools and contributing to OpenStreetMap, the open data set that powers our custom baselayer MapBox Streets as well as many other maps. Open source mapping technologies are enabling organizations and communities to approach problems in completely new ways, and it will be great to work with Central Asian civil society organizations on how to specifically implement these tools in their work.

On Friday and Saturday, I will lead trainings on how to make custom interactive web maps with TileMill, how to get them online easily with our new mapping site templates and other tools, and overall on how online maps can be used as advocacy and communications tools for NGOs and businesses.

I’ll also be hosting an OpenStreetMap Mapping Party on Sunday following Tech Forum Central Asia, where we’ll gather with local contributors and anyone who is interested to collect and add data to the open data set. The power behind OpenStreetMap is the open access to local knowledge it provides. Users are able to contribute the correct names and locations for geographic data in their community and access that data freely. OpenStreetMap in Almaty already has excellent coverage in the city - building footprints are outlined, hospitals are marked, and street names and directions are available. Check out the detail in the map below using the custom “Nightvision” color scheme.

The mapping party will give all participants hands on experience on contributing to OpenStreetMap. We’ll head out with GPS devices and walking papers to annotate new data and make corrections to existing data, with the goal to get hands on experiences and improve OpenStreetMap in Almaty. We’ll meet in the lobby of Hotel Kazakhstan on Sunday, June 17 at 1:00 pm. You can find all the event details in the event’s wiki page.

Using Walking Papers during a mapping party in Chisinau, Moldova