The UK’s 1st #Maptime chapter

I have been organising #Maptime Southampton (@MaptimeSOTON) since November 2014. It is the first in the UK and I am extremely proud of our group and the 5 excellent meetups that we’ve had so far. We have learned about OpenStreetMap, Mapbox Studio, Leaflet, QGIS Plugins and recently had our first Show & Tell where 10 peeps presented on a really diverse range of topics from Fledermaus to zombies!

Rather than write a brand new post about Maptime and my experiences in organising a local chapter, I will instead share the copy from an article that I wrote for the April edition of xyHt:

“I first found out about Maptime in the Summer of 2014 and was immediately inspired by their ethos, intentions and approach. I have for a long time thought that the barriers of entry into the world of geo are too high and training can be either hard to find or very expensive. With the abundance of open software and open data – this should no longer be the case. Maptime is one of the current movements looking to reset the balance and make learning accessible to all. It’s been well documented that the making of maps has become democratised, let’s democratise the learning too. The Maptime website states:

“Our mission is to open the doors of cartographic possibility to anyone interested by creating a time and space for collaborative learning, exploration, and map creation using mapping tools and technologies.”

I initially discovered Maptime through Twitter and was directed to Maptime.io. I knew that it started in the US but after looking at the Chapters map and panning across The Atlantic I was very surprised to discover that there were no chapters in the UK. I work for Ordnance Survey, the Great British National Mapping Agency so I’m very fortunate to be closely connected to the industry and know that there is a fantastic, innovative group of map-makers here on our shores.

Where better to start a chapter than Southampton – a city with a rich history (Titanic, Spitfire) and home to the Ordnance Survey and a University with a fantastic Geography department. I reached out to Maptime HQ and they were super supportive in helping me get my chapter off the ground – they supplied useful documentation and pointed me in the direction of all the available resources.

I set about looking for a venue and a sponsor (just to cover the venue cost) as I was very keen to keep the meetups free to attend. It didn’t take me long to find a fantastic venue that fits the bill perfectly – The Art House is in the city centre and it’s ethos aligns with that of Maptime really well. It is fabulously informal, run by volunteers and harnesses and supports local communities.

After reaching out to the guys at the Open Source Geospatial Laboratory they very kindly agreed to sponsor the inaugural meetup in November 2014 and so Maptime Southampton was born!

I must admit that I was heading into the unknown and quite nervous – not knowing if anyone would show up at all. Thankfully 14 excellently-enthusiastic people turned up for our inaugural meetup we had a really good brainstorm session. As a group we discussed all the aspects of what we wanted this new community to become and the many things that we wanted to learn together. I was so pleased to come away from that first evening with a really long list of ideas and subjects to cover in future events, and I was really excited for the future of Maptime Southampton.

Since that initial meetup we have had two more and they have been great successes with 20 people at each. We have covered OpenStreetMap, Mapbox Studio and Leaflet and have already started planning a QGIS workshop for our next monthly meetup. I am also lucky enough to now have four offers of sponsor – a great sign that there is real interest in what we’re doing.

Other chapters have been springing up around Europe and there is now another UK chapter, Maptime West London (@MaptimeWLON). There will be a regional Maptime meetup at the forthcoming FOSS4G-Europe in Como, Italy and it would be great to see more activities like this at other events and conferences.

Maptime is a very effective way to learn new skills, brush up on others and also teach other people. Teaching can be really rewarding and there is a great sense of pride in passing on knowledge to others. There is a growing range of lessons and resources and Maptime HQ have some really exciting ideas for the future.

I would encourage anyone in the mapping/geo industries to start a local chapter – it’s a great place to learn a tonne of new stuff, share knowledge and socialise with like-minded people. Organising a Maptime chapter has been fun and rewarding and I am so excited to learn more at our future events alongside a really great group of people. I have got loads of ideas about different formats for our meetups and also plan to have social outings.

If you’re interested in starting up a chapter then visit www.maptime.io for more information. The whole Maptime community is really supportive and it’s a great thing to be part of!”

You can read the article on xyHT here and read about regular Maptimer Nicholas Duggan’s experiences here.