Nicaraguans are using crowdsourcing technology to prove that a good map can change your life

Grace Dobush in Quartz: “Taking a bus in Latin America can be a disorienting experience. Whilethe light rail systems in places like Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Riode Janeiro have system maps that are fairly easy to understand, mostcities lack a comprehensive bus map.

Several factors have kept bus maps from taking root in much of LatinAmerica. One reason is that bus lines running through cities tend to beoperated by a collection of private companies, so they have lessincentive to coordinate. Newspapers and local governmentsoccasionally attempt to create system maps, but none have stuck.

In Managua, Nicaragua, this absence has had a constricting effect onresidents’ lives. Most people know the bus lines that take them toschool or to work, but don’t stray far from their usual route. “Mobilityin Managua is very difficult,” says Felix Delattre, a German programmerand amateur cartographer who moved to Nicaragua 10 years ago towork for an NGO. “People don’t go out at night because they don’t havethe information on when the bus is coming and where it’s going.”

Delattre led a group of volunteers who teamed up with universitystudents in Managua to create what they believe to be the firstcomprehensive bus map in Latin America. The mapping venture is anindependent project connected to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMapTeam, a nonprofit group that uses open-source technology andcrowdsourcing to create badly needed maps around the world. The teamspent almost two years mapping out Managua and Ciudad Sandino andrecording its 46 bus routes….(More)