State of the Map 2018 at the Politecnico di Milano

The students from PoliMappers, our university’s own mapping group, also took part


From 28th to 30th July, Milan was the capital of open maps. The Politecnico di Milano hosted the 2018 edition of State of the Map, the annual convention for the international community OpenStreetMap, an open and collaborative mapping project, also referred to as the “Wikipedia of maps”. The initiative was organised alongside the OpenStreetMap Foundation and Wikimedia Italia, the Foundation’s official branch in our Country.

More than 400 participants took part from 5 continents, without counting all those invited via the scholarship programme which enabled inhabitants of developing countries to take part as well. At the numerous work sessions and workshops there were also researchers, companies, public administration, institutions and non-governmental organisations.

OpenStreetMap creates and provides open geographical data on a global scale and is the largest and most up-to-date worldwide geospatial database to date. The project was conceived due to the fact that most of the existing maps have legal or technical restrictions when it comes to using them for productive or creative purposes. OpenStreetMap data is instead accessible for free and reusable for any purpose, even commercial. Its use potential is vast: from the transport sector to emergence rescue management, from logistics to tourism, from accessibility mapping all the way to scientific innovation and research.

For years the Politecnico has been active in this field thanks to the PoliMappers, a section of YouthMappers made up entirely of our own university’s students. Their activities have been many. For example, they fully mapped the Leonardo Campus. They organised a mountain hike around Lake Como tracking their route with GPS, mapping it and documenting it with photographs. They have also taken part in many competitions, such as Mapillary’s #CompletetheMap, Maptime Milan, and a number of mapathons, including in the schools.

«Mapping is not just something technical, even though our students, being PoliTecnici, add the relevant skills to it. Mapping is studying the world around us, knowing it and being aware of how all phenomena are geographically linked. This awareness helps the students acquire a greater sense of social and environmental responsibility. It is no coincidence that our motto is “We do not make maps, but mappers”, because we inspire the students to take centre stage of their present and future» said Maria Brovelli, GIS teacher at the University and PoliMappers mentor.

The most active students in PoliMappers come from the Master in Geoinformatics Engineering, Italy’s first of its kind. Two of them, Fabio Cattaneo and Michael Montani, were awarded a YouthMappers researchscholarship for a humanitarian mapping project aimed at involving citizens of Senegal’s Saint Louis region in mapping the villages and geolocating aquatic vegetation associated with the transmission of diseases.

Photograph by Thomas Skowron, Francesco Giunta, Mbranco2, PoliMappers under license CC BY 4.0