Free maps and ''mapoparties"

An online mapping tool developed and updated by the city and its residents


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29810 Plouarzel
FR France


About the project Edit

In 2009, the city council of Plouarzel wanted to redo its municipal map because it was outdated. To remedy that, it began working on a municipal map through the multimedia centre and using the project and tools provided by Open Street Map (
The municipality is fully committed to mobilizing its residents and organizations. Two ''mapoparties'' were organized in fall 2009 bringing together some fifty participants (a third of which came from different communities). Out in the work field, they were divided into small teams equipped with a GPS and a camera. They listed roads, highways, small rural heritage sites, shops ...
A team of volunteers took action during the winter to finish the map. A lot of homogenization work was done on the naming of roads and localities in Breton.
At the end of 2010, the town had a collectively made maps available on the Internet, and a plan on paper published in "Creative Commons". The plan was distributed to every household in the town along with a letter from the mayor explaining the process and encouraging all the residents to become actively involved in the project.


In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Open Street Map is usually powered by volunteer contributors from a wide geographic area. The "mapping parties" involve ''insiders'' leaving the residents of the town in the dark.
In Plouarzel, it was apparently the first time that a town posed as the project developer with the deliberate intent of relying on the knowledge and expertise of its people. All the elected and all associations (fishing, bicycle, kayak, heritage...) have been mobilized to coordinate the compilation and validation of information. The ''outsider'' residents, at times accompanied by their children, were able to redraw the map of their neighbourhoods during the two mapoparties organized by the multimedia centre.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

During these (social!) days, a unifying project created the social bond between people who are introduced to free software (OSM) and taught about free licenses, while participating in a regional project.
Using a classic idea (the publication of a municipal plan), the town has set up a collaborative project, which will lead to the creation of a map that will be posted on the Internet from a hard copy plan, both distributed under a free license. The cost of this operation could not be covered conventionally by the city's budget and would probably have been treated on a smaller scale.

The ownership of the land, in the form of cartographic material, is an important element of understanding the town's history. It helps to integrate new residents by making them players in their adopted land.
The local press, and even national magazines, accurately relayed the news on this project, which has helped to encourage growth throughout the Pays de Brest and beyond. The residents are proud to have contributed to the representation of their municipality and to have participated in a global mapping project.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

This idea has been emulated a bit everywhere with the influence of OSM networks and good collaboration among the players in Brest.
Many associations and communities embark on the adventure. The OSM project is a good way for youth to take action in regard to appropriation of the area in which they live or the census of a small rural heritage
Many new OSM developments are coming soon and new projects might emerge - inserting pictures, text descriptions and enhanced reality...
It seems essential that the communities concerned are involved in OSM map projects. Only they can ultimately validate data and give legitimacy to OSM maps (often called into question by the official map services). It is also a good way of making people more aware of the use of open source software and Creative Commons licenses.
Keeping in mind that a map is never really finished and it evolves with the population of the territory it represents.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

What is the business model of this project? Edit

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