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Maps for Open Development

Randi Ryterman's picture

Our interest in mapping at the World Bank is strong and growing. Our efforts with Mapping for Results, the Bank’s Spatial Analysis Lab, and the Open Aid Partnership have shown us that location matters and maps help us and our clients make better choices in alleviating poverty. Recent collaboration with citizen mappers in Haiti and Tanzania demonstrate the power of working directly with people to create maps and the utility of geo-data for humanitarian response and planning. Through trial and error, we have learned that open and equitable access to maps is critical not only for crisis response but also for innovation and longer-term development.

For this reason, the World Bank only supports citizen-mapping efforts that give users free access to the map data they create. While citizens are free to choose the projects and tools that best meet their goals, our guiding principle is simple: if the public helps to collect or create map data, the public should be able to access, use and re-use that data freely.

Questions have been raised about our partnership with Google for the use of Map Maker data. The single goal of this joint project is to provide UN agencies and governments faster access to Map Maker data for humanitarian, development and disaster preparedness efforts. Access to Google’s map data is an important resource for the World Bank and our development partners and the agreement simplifies this process. Bank staff exercised the partnership in Madagascar and Tajikistan in recent weeks for rapid access to geo-data for disaster preparedness and response.

As we’ve stated before, however, our agreement does not extend to supporting new citizen mapping activities or data creation through the Google Map Maker platform. Therefore, when it comes to creating map data, we will work with a variety of other mapping platforms consistent with our development objectives, terms of use and guiding principles around open data.


Submitted by Anonymous on
with several high profile map data consumers switching to openstreetmap, we at osm are always glad to collaborate with data users. if i recall correctly, world bank did use osm data back in haiti. why not come and work with us ? :)

Welcome to the World Bank guiding principle: "if the public helps to collect or create map data, the public should be able to access, use and re-use that data freely." We hope this principle will be written down soon (in broader formulated wordings) in the World Bank set of guidelines. Within this discours it certainly is a step in the right direction that the World Bank has decided to stop the use of Google Map services for future projects. Against a background of principles like fair competition and due diligence it cannot be explained that an NGO exclusively uses one commercial company for all it's mapping projects. But it's only a first step. From the blogpost is to understand that Google Maps still will be used for projects that have been started in the past. Here we politely give the World Bank in consideration to investigate the monitoring and collection of visitor-data on the Google Maps platform and the re-use and monetisation of these data by Google. It than should be analysed whether these techniques fit into World Bank guidelines and whether they aren't breaching dataprotection- and privacy laws. A great way to empower citizens, NGO's and public bodies worldwide would be the development of a truely open, simple understandable, inter-operable, free mapping system. 10COM is an EU based independent initiative that strives for simple, effective sets of principle rulings, measures and business models to empower and protect the EU and it's (corporate) ciitzens in the Age of Digital.

Submitted by Noel Dickover on
Its terrific to see the World Bank forthrightly address concerns with the Google agreement and state clearly their intention to support open data mapping efforts. The World Bank has consistently been real leaders both in the open data space and in supporting open source efforts like OpenStreetMap, so its great to you all re-iterate this. Unlike 10Com, I think most of us are quite happy that you're working with Google on getting their crisis mapping information faster, but weren't thrilled about the other implications. Speaking as a Co-founder of CrisisCommons (but I'm no longer in a leadership role there), a group supporting open data and open source in the crisis response space, the Bank's leadership especially in GFDRR has critical in this area, and its truly great to see it continue. Bravo!

Submitted by Anonymous on
if people help provide data for mapping, they should be able to share in and have access to it. right on.

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