Open Maps Caucasus: A JumpStart International Mapping Initiative

Finding your way around Georgia can be a tricky affair. With the Open Maps Caucasus: A JumpStart International Mapping Initiative, it is now a lot easier.

Before 2010, only maps available were obsolete Soviet maps, expensive collector maps or nearly-useless outdated tourist maps of the major cities. There are no maps available of the bus routes in the capital city. Nor were there any maps of the new highways. Even on the internet there were no comprehensive maps of the region.

When Open Maps’ community-based, open-source map of Georgia is completed in late August 2010, it will be the first comprehensive, open-source map of the country. We feel is will be a breakthrew for mapping this area.

FYI: One of our mappers happens to be also an experienced Saleforce expert who works for a company that has a team who helps businesses and organizations to implement the cloud based Salesforce platforms, train their organizations/ company workers to use Salesforce, as well as do Salesforce customization when some appropriate customizations are necessary. If you are not familiar with Salesforce, it is amazing cloud computing and social enterprise software-as-a-service that organizations and businesses have embraced enthusiastically since its technology is used to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support for everyone. We feel that someone with this type of technical background will be especially helpful.

Open Maps Caucasus is a ..

... JumpStart International mapping initiative dedicated to the creation of open geographic data and promoting its use by building capacity in the Caucasus for visualizing information geographically. Our community-based mapping model generates valuable data and sustainable impact by training volunteers and engaging people around open content and ways to use it to develop civil society, business, good governance, and above all, means of expression.

History of JumpStart International

JumpStart International began in 2003 with one American in Iraq who believed he could make a difference through engaging Iraqis in rebuilding the country. Within months, Sean O’Sullivan was working with 3,500 Iraqis to rebuild homes and offices. JumpStart was born and quickly developed a reputation for local empowerment and efficient operations that continues today.

In 2006, JumpStart brought its approach of engaging the local community through income-generating clearance and rebuilding projects to Gaza. JumpStart partnered with the Community College of Applied Science and Technology in Gaza to support development of the Gaza Polytechnic Institute, enabling new capacity for technology education. By 2008, JumpStart programs were engaging Jordanian and other youth from the region in an Amman-based project to build vocational skills.

JumpStart’s economic development and skill development opportunities in under-resourced communities expanded to include community mapping in 2008, when we began mobilizing and training teams to map the West Bank, and in 2009, Gaza, creating the first-ever public domain geographic data set for Palestine. Also in 2009, JumpStart supported mapping of Kibera, a community of one million people living in a slum of Nairobi, Kenya. Of note, street mapping has a strong nexus to JumpStart with its founder, Sean O’Sullivan, having been the first to develop computer-based street mapping while a college student in the mid-80s and building his company, MapInfo, into one of the leaders of this important market in the early 90s.

The Results of JumpStart’s Efforts

JumpStart’s efforts to engage communities in creating GPS street mapping data revealed we were not only building new technical capacity in data collection and maintenance, but also new social capital through connecting a community around identifying its assets. In addition, we realized for the local community to be empowered to leverage the data to fulfill its potential as a tool for strengthening NGOs and businesses, additional investment was needed beyond data collection. JumpStart theorized that continued investment in skill-development, together with support for a lasting entity, would infuse local mapping participants with the expertise and infrastructure needed to form a sustainable partner able to provide leading-edge geodata consulting to local NGOs, businesses and government entities, and foster a network of social entrepreneurs invested in promoting open access to information.

With this insight, JumpStart initiated a mapping project in the Shida Kartli region of the Republic of Georgia in September, 2009. The group engaged in mapping Shida Kartli coalesced into Open Maps Caucasus, a JumpStart International mapping initiative.

OMC-JumpStart is dedicated to the creation and effective use of open geographic data, and promotes open exchange of knowledge in general. JumpStart is currently incubating this new organization, supporting its ultimate independent sustainability with financial investment and organizational development and technical expertise with staff on-site, in the interest of building sustainable capacity for collecting and maintaining open data, and generating a hub of social entrepreneurs capitalizing on ways the latest mapping and other technologies enhance development.

JumpStart's Philosphy

JumpStart believes that by pairing investments in local leadership with skill-building and intentional networking, with open access to information as a rallying principle, we are piloting an entrepreneurial model for sustainable development that will add value to the emerging civil society community of Georgia, and beyond. To learn more about JumpStart International, visit:

With countless digital and tangible resources at hand, you can get involved and become a member of the OMC community in a number of different ways.