Date Published: Aug. 1, 2017, 10:02 p.m.
his project goal is to map Chefchaouen by using the OpenStreetMap tool as a database and by implementing a collaborative methodology where all involved actors will be able to participate at data update, correction and improvement. Data to be collected include: administrative boundaries, surfaces (residential zones, parking lots, tall buildings, sports fields, public gardens, etc), streets and roadways, heritage, services, public buildings, businesses, among others. Data collected can then be used under free license OdbL, which means that the raw data of the OpenStreetMap project are accessible to everyone wishing to use the common database to visualize a map on their own website or other personal use.
The Urban Community of Chefchaouen stretches out on a surface of 10km² and has an approximate population of 35 000 inhabitants. The Urban Community of Chechaouen constitutes a territorial unit with legal entity and financial independence. The communal council is elected for 6 years and has an annual budget of 425 000 USD.
The Urban Community of Chechaouen has an exceptional natural, cultural and architectural patrimony. This privileged situation has predisposed the city to tourism, a key sector for the city development, and reinforced by the inscription of its Mediterranean architecture at UNESCO world heritage. Tourism is one of the city’s main development axes. In fact, in the past years, the city has known a real revolution, with increase of rural tourism and eco-tourism, but also cultural tourism due to the reestablished medina. On another side, the city faces weak infrastructures, high unemployment rate among youth, lack of recreation space and a touristic heritage, which is still little valorized.
OpenStreetMap is currently one of the main Open Source solution used by international public actors engaged in the open data movement. OSM offers public « map bases » used to display points of interest or professions zones, but also a set of tools to produce its own maps or services as calculating itinerary or search addresses. The collaborative aspect and the geographical data are at the heart of project like OSM. The richness and pertinence of the data depends on its continuous update by a group of permanent or casual contributors.
The Chefchaouen Community has engaged in opening its territorial data by using the OSM tool as a reference base to elaborate collaborative, interactive, thematic, attractive, complete and updated maps. This is motivated by a need to better visualize and communicate about touristic (such as businesses or artifact production) points of interest within the city and promote Chefchaouen internationally through a recognized and popular web instrument.
The principal goal of the initiative is the integration and promotion of the city of Chefchaouen through the OSM map, allowing the city to increase its touristic performance.
The mission to implement the project lasted 6 months and included the following stages:
In this process, the municipality of Chefchaouen brings the financial support to the project as well as the technical expertise, mainly through the collaboration with the Infrastructures Officer. The association OpenStreetMap contributed to the training, brought the computing infrastructure and the monitoring, verification and adjustments of database. Finally, the civil society and citizens, contributed to collecting data and supplying the map.
The project allows to map the municipality, the neighborhoods, the residential and industrial zones, the cemetery, the parking lots, the sports fields, the public gardens, the landfills, the water points, classify, name and localize streets (in Arabic and French), among others. In addition, the initiative also allows identifying the main points of interest in terms of public services, businesses, restaurants, recreation, cultural and touristic activities, mesquite and other cult places, recreation, etc.
The project should contribute to increase the number of tourists within the city of Chefchaouen and bring benefits to the touristic sector but also increase municipality revenue. It should indirectly benefit the population through increased touristic development, and socio-economic development.
Main difficulties faced during the project implementation included: limited human resources, ensure a dedicated budget on the long term (mainly to pay for the interns and maintenance costs), difficult training to use the JOSM editor, the nonexistent maps of suburb zones within the OSM tool which made the data collection more difficult. Another challenge was the limited communication about the tool within tourists and the distrust from touristic actors, which needed a strong communication campaign.
In order to ensure the success of the project, it is recommended to anticipate a relatively long and extensive training period in order to ensure the control of the JOSM editor. This requires that a specific budget is assigned to the project in order to ensure the integration within municipal management and sufficient human resources to ensure a quick supply of the map. In addition, it is recommended to work, from the beginning, in the whole city and not only in the historical touristic center. Finally, it is necessary to work on the communication of the tool and to motivate all the actors involved not only to use the tool but also to supply information to the map. One way to make the tool even more interesting is to create touristic circles.
The lessons learned by the municipality of Chefchaouen in this context are: the necessity to ensure a strong political will within the municipality; encourage the introduction of innovation in the touristic sector through intense communication campaign; the importance of implicating the civil society at all levels.