Let's create the biggest and ugliest map ever! (Mar 23)

The reality around your homestreets, forests, parks, cities, beaches and villages won't get better, unless you open your eyes and mark down, what needs to be done. A new tool has arrived for those who choose not to live in denial - a map where you can make your homestreet's garbage visible, no matter where you live! World garbage map is here.

Mapping the garbage is essential for the cleanup organizers - to know what kind of, where and how much garbage there really is. Everyone can help - by using this simple tool to monitor and map their everyday neighborhood. 

We talked about the new garbage map with it's creator, Ahti Heinla. Read on, to know what can YOU do with this tool:

      What is the world garbage map?

The waste map is software that helps to put waste on a web-based map. Anyone can contribute to the map by submitting waste locations and photos they know of. Organisers of large-scale cleanups can then use this data to coordinate their volunteers.

How is it different from the garbage mapping software used originally in the
first cleanup in Estonia?

With the new software it is much easier to map waste. In 2008, most waste mapping was done using handheld GPS devices, which very few people had. We used to loan these devices to interested mappers. Now, 3 years later, the world has changed in that there are a lot of smartphones with built-in GPSes, and we are developing mapping apps for Android, iPhone and Nokia smartphones. These make mapping simple for ordinary people. Sure, not everyone has a smartphone, but most people could find a friend who has one, and they can use it to map waste without any training. Also, the new software enables adding waste points to map directly
on the web-based map, simply by clicking on the map. You can also upload photos directly on the map.

Who can use it - is it for teams who are organizing a cleanup or for any person who sees some garbage lying around and wants to put it on the map?

Both. Cleanup organisers can set up the waste map software for their country or region, in their own servers. That's what Lithuanian cleanup team is doing - they have their own map using the same software. Also Kaliningrad cleanup team, French team, and several other teams are considering using the same software.

Why would anybody want to map garbage, isn't it easier and better to just clean it up right away?

Indeed, if the waste is small, it is almost easier to pick it up than to put it on a map! But even when you pick it up, it is good to also document it for other people, so that everyone sees the waste. We will add an option to tell the software that this waste location was cleaned up during mapping.

How can I start mapping? Do I have to register? Do I need any technical device?

You do not need anything. Anyone can go to Global Waste Map in at: http://www.letsdoitworld.org/map/global-waste-map 
and start adding waste to map by pointing out the location on map. Having a handheld GPS or smartphone just makes it easier to add a lot of different locations - then you do not have to remember them.

Can I really map from anywhere on Earth?

Yes, the Global Waste Map is open to mapping everywhere, even if there is no cleanup being organised in your country. When someone organises a cleanup, we will give the Global Waste Map data for their country to them.

Can I upload photos or additional data about the garbage?

Yes, photos is a big thing because it makes the waste problem well visible. With a smartphone, it is easy to snap a photo while mapping, and the app uploads it automatically to Waste Map.

Is it possible to connect somehow with other mappers in my area?

That's under construction. Essentially we plan to develop a "social network for mappers" where mappers can find each other, see what their friends have mapped, and update each others data.

When will it be ready?

Most of what I described is ready now, and you can use it now. The smartphone applications will be ready in the beginning of April.

Is it free?

Of course! Also regional cleanup organisers can use the map software for free.