Johan Richer

(Johan) #1


I’m from southern France, currently living in Saint-Denis near Paris. I’m a volunteer from CartONG and involved in the french OSM community as well as the associative community in the humanitarian and international development fields.

I started a project a while ago with some other volunteers from CartONG called “Atlas Solidarité Madagascar” with the broad goal to map NGO actions in Madagascar. The project kind of forked about a year ago to become “Django Atlas” a multipurpose web application for the collaborative mapping of local initiatives, which could be used in a multiplicity of contexts. We’re currently finishing the first version for the National Committee for the Fight against AIDS in Madagascar which will use it as an internal tool. Early demo here:
The collaborative dimension has yet to be implemented.

As you well know, a lot of organisms express a great need for these kind of tools. A few weeks ago I met people from Alternatiba, which emerged during the events leading up to the COP21 and is currently running one of the biggest grassroot movement in France, with about 400 associations in their network. They have a huge impact, but mostly under the radar. All members are mostly autonomous, independent from each other, spread out in big cities and sparsely populated areas all around the country. They need a tool to organize, in a decentralized, collaborative way. They need a map.

Our app could be a response to that and we hope it would be a lot better than the tools most people use for this kind of purpose, like uMap or Google Map Engine. But it wouldn’t be a solution to the increasing dispersion and discrepancy of all the data related to alternative movements. Indeed, there is an “archipelago” of data with small and large “islands” (databases). To stretch the metaphor, I would say that the majority of these “islands” are tiny: there are a multitude of small organisms running a small operation, keeping data regarding only one maybe two projects. But there are also big islands, networks of grassroots movements like Alternatiba. Our goal ultimately is to link up all these islands and gather all this data under a common system.

So, naturally you can guess I was pretty excited when I discovered TransforMap. It was almost three weeks ago and I still am. The possibilities your initiative offers are indless. The problem is, I don’t even know where to start! The less I can say is that it has reshaped the way I saw my own project.

But I’m taking it slow, immersing myself in the expansive documentation you’ve produced. I tend to get lost a bit.

Taking it slow has also been our principle until then and I stick by it. Small team, ten-ish people, working slowly but with continous motivation and steady progress. No deadline, no pressure. You can’t have that when you want volunteers to stay in a project.
I can give more details about the project and will do later, but it’s not important right now. If you want you can find all the up to date info here (French, sorry).

Where you can find me:
Skype: johan.richer

(Jon Richter) #2

Salut Johan,

I am pleased you have found your way to us! Indeed you are discovering the internal depths of the mere idea of transformaps, and yes, this Discourse contains hidden gems of knowledge. We still lack a proper publication strategy to bring these to the surface.

As you have very well concluded, there are thousands of communities and hundreds of maps about and from them. To take the short cut, we have understood the platform we are building is based on sharing data, and this can happen by following widely accepted standards, agreed conventions and building diverse ecosystems of tools that interoperate. Shortly, the web.

Most probably your vision of building a (linked?) mapping platform already aligns with the communities that you can find here, and we consider it as immensely important to coordinate our efforts, especially in the long term. Thus we usually support any development efforts, if the data is only free. But we are also looking at many WebGIS and other data provisioning systems and witness a convergence of collective needs and offers from within the field.

I would suggest you have a look at the Leaflet.Storage module that uMap uses. It appears to be the least common denominator we all can work on. But there is only a django-leaflet-storage backend for the moment, which limits its implementation scope. If we could only use it to build a generalizable library for collaborative mapping environments, swappable, decoupled interfaces as well as storage engines appear probable.

Let’s see where these waves bring us …

(Adrien Labaeye) #3

Glad you’ve found your way to us @johan.
This is for me the main “raison d’être” for this forum here. Unfortunately, it’s crammed with lot of discursive processes.
Let me be sure you’re aware of similar initiatives in France and that they are of you (you can find them in the Who’s who of course):
@Maia (Semeoz) @ybon (Umap) @Simon_Sarazin (encommuns and more) Tibor (

I had been a year ago in contact with a couple of people from Alternatiba who wanted to map stuff. Unfortunately we were not in a position to offer the services they needed. I directed them towards Umap.
Let me raise to your attention the French mapping of the mappings discussion group initiated by @Maia on facebook :
And to our wiki where we collect existing maps and mappings of maps:

Oh and yes, you’ve noticed, I’m not the one to ask about tech. I’m just connecting people here. And damn god there’s a lot of work!

(Maïa Dereva) #4

Welcome @johan :slightly_smiling:
Maybe you know them but I can add to @alabaeye 's list “Assemblée Virtuelle” who is also working on mapping with Communecter, and this pad where you can find a lot of french people working on mapping and "Open Distributed Semantic Bus"
I hope it can help !

(Johan) #5

I’ll definitely start following closely all these initiatives. Thanks you for the links! @Maia @alabaeye I had partial knowledge of some of them but now I’m starting to see the big picture. :wink:
I want to be at the next meet up if it’s in the Paris (or Montpellier) region, is there a newsletter or a page I can keep an eye on to make sure I won’t miss it?
In any case, this event next week could be of interest to the community:

@almereyda As a matter of fact we use Leaflet and Django as a base to build our software. We naturally want to publish the code and data with an open licence, we even tought of an open API so that organisms could share their data on our platform while still using their own internal client. But our brainstorming on that never went very far. We’re still in an early phase of development with limited resources and time. But now I think TransforMap would be the solution to this lack of common protocol.

What resources would you recommend for me to have a current understanding of where TransforMap is standing? For example I get that the taxonomy is one of the core aspect of the project, to have a set of categories set in stone. I read that OSM was at one time considered as a way to “store” TransforMap POIs, did you finaly decide to have your database? How would other platforms link to it?

(Jon Richter) #6

Please allow me a few days to answer your questions. Maybe @species has already a moment to reflect OSMs current role again?

(Gualter Barbas Baptista) #7

This is probably well answered in the scheme and explanation that @almereyda has published in the TransforMap for Dummies thread.

(Jon Richter) #8

While reading this again

popped into my mind.