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Readers contribute to fill gaps in Africa maps

Nigeria: The Guardian recently conducted a survey to understand how accurate the information available on Africa maps is. The result was that many responders found several important places were mapped inaccurately or were missing. Map coverage across Africa has improved dramatically since the days when cartographers used elephants to fill in the gaps in their knowledge. Google alone has increased its representation of roads from 20% in 2008 to 75% in 2012. The number of towns and villages visible has increased by 1,000% in the same period.

To create better maps and fill in the gaps, Google has been inviting citizens to its Map Maker project. A committed community of African mapmakers has submitted hundreds of thousands of edits. Similarly, The Guardian piece also quotes Dan Stowell, an armchair mapper from London, who argues that "the big problem with asking people to submit data to Google Maps is that the data is no longer theirs''. Stowell is part of a team that helps to map Africa and other countries for OpenStreet Map who believe that data should belong to everyone. He is working on a project to improve the coverage of Guinea to assist humanitarian organisations responding to the ebola epidemic. They have been marking every building village by village to keep track of infections.

Source: The Guardian