Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I am happy to report that over the past couple of weeks I have been on the ground working as the Mapping Program Manager for JumpStart International in Palestine, the mapping project has grown rapidly. JumpStart currently has six teams mapping in Hebron and two teams mapping in Bethany, with a team leader in each location. JumpStart has continued to receive great enthusiasm for the project and have identified additional organizations to partner with on the mapping initiative, such as Relief International (RI) and other local community-based organizations. RI has computer labs all around the country and a vibrant community of computer savvy volunteers interested in supporting the project.

Last Sunday and Monday I was in Hebron to evaluate and train a group of mapping candidates organized by representatives of the National Council for Development (NCD), a local NGO focusing on job-creation in Hebron. Currently the group in Hebron is using the computer labs at Relief International to edit and upload their data. They have been working full time for the last week and have already collected data for more than 1/3 of the city of Hebron. The district of Hebron (located in the Southern part of West Bank) is the most heavily populated region in West Bank, and It is expected that Hebron should be completed in less than two months.

The teams in Bethany started on Tuesday and have already mapped a large section of the Bethany region (located East of Jerusalem).

Next week is Eid holiday but we hope to get work started in Nablus (located in the north part of the West Bank).

Monday, September 1, 2008

It All Starts in Bethlehem

JumpStart International’s pilot mapping project in the Palestinian West Bank has begun in Bethlehem. In cooperation with Engineers Without Borders-Palestine and the Engineers Association, over a two-week period (August 14-30), JumpStart provided applied training and service-learning opportunities in GPS surveying techniques for 10 recent engineering graduates using OpenStreetMap’s open-source tools to map the Bethlehem region.

Mikel Maron (R), Web Developer and OpenStreetMap expert, trains participants to use GIS equipment for surveying streets and marking points of interest.

Engineering students were equipped with GPS devices to record their movement around the city. The data was used along with other data they collected, such as street names and hospital locations, to create a map of the Bethlehem district.

JumpStart was able to recruit participants through the support of Engineers Without Borders-Palestine and the Engineering Association, which provided access to it’s computer lab and facilities for training and compiling data.

It didn’t taken long for the engineering students to understand the training and begin collecting and organizing the data.

JumpStart Staff and the Engineering Team

Part of the Bethlehem Map

Now that the pilot of the mapping initiative has been successfully completed in Bethlehem, JumpStart International is preparing to place a program manager on the ground who will recruit additional teams and partners for the completion of the project in the coming months.

See the map here.