Open Data is a new and still not very well understood concept in Guyana, as is probably the case in other countries as well. The GIS Collective, a group of volunteers, each highly skilled and experienced in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), know the value of data being available to help a country to develop, and the hurdles posed by unavailable or outdated data.
Secondary school teachers can impart their knowledge to the upcoming generation of youth on the subject. The GIS Collective therefore offered a short seminar on open data for secondary school Geography and IT teachers based in and around the capital city, Georgetown, working through the office of the Guyana Chief Education Officer (CEO) and with the support of the Assistant CEO for Secondary Schools. The event was hosted on the 11 March 2016 at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) located in the Kingston ward of Georgetown.
The idea of open data was briefly presented and discussed, that is ‘What is Open Data?’ and ‘What Open Data does for National Development’. However the main part of the seminar involved the teachers learning-by-doing, producing open data themselves.
The teachers were introduced to a source of open spatial data – Open Street Map (OSM) and taught to use and edit it themselves. The teachers were organised into groups of 4-6 people and using Field Papers to make notes, they walked and surveyed various parts of the surrounding area of the city. Using laptops and the OSM iD editor the teachers then transferred their observations to OSM, digitizing building outlines, naming and describing landmarks, and so on.
The group enriched OSM by adding information on Government Ministries, Embassies, private companies and other buildings, and historic structures such as the Georgetown Lighthouse (built 1830), the Umana Yana (a national landmark built by indigenous peoples) and the Georgetown Seawall Roundhouse (built 1860).
The teachers were enthusiastic participants, and enjoyed the hands-on approach of the seminar. Some have apparently already continued to edit OSM in other areas of Guyana in the days following the seminar. The organisers are grateful for the support of the Guyana Ministry of Education and Open Knowledge International.