Mapper of the month: Lionel Giard (Belgium)

Translation: MOTM team

Please introduce yourself.

I am Lionel Giard, I am a geographer from Brabant Wallon, from a village near Louvain-la-Neuve. I have a masters in geography since 2016, which I got from the Catholic Universite of Louvain (UCL). I work with GIS application on a daily basis. Besides my passion for geography and carthography, I also like to study history. Those two passions can easily be combined.

Before I forget, my OpenStreetMap name is “Anakil”.

When and how did you discover OpenStreetMap?

I was lucky to find out about OpenStreetMap during my geography studies. We used OpenStreetMap more than once as a data source. This was how “we” met. I got more involved in the last year of my studies, at the first national mapathon in 2016, as the university where I studied was one of the hosts. Other events that influenced my involvenment where mapathons organised by Médecins sans Frontières in Brussels and the State of the Map in Brussels.

What do you map? Is there an evolution since the early days?

I map everything I can think of, but mostly in the eastern part of Brabant Wallon. I work on a few project in parallel: updating the map of Louvain-la-Neuve and adding monuments and classified buildings in the neighborhood.

A lot has changed since my first steps in OpenStreetMap. I started mapping the buildings and the roads for the Missing Maps and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team projects, project located in Africa and Haïti. After that I started mapping in Belgium, more specifically the region around Chaumont-Gistoux, where I was born. I recently met another mapper from that area “ThibPhil”. The two of us mapped more or less the complete village, as well as a few other villages in the east of Brabant Wallon.

I mapped my house, the garden and the immediate area with a lot of detail, a.o. road surfaces, minor power lines, etc. I continue to map different types of objects to prevent boredom :-)

How do you map?

I map a lot of object using aerial imagery, mainly basic stuff such as roads, buildings and landuse. Each time I go out for a hike, I record a GPS track and take pictures. I use those later on to verify data and to add more detail.

Recently I started to contribute to Mapillary. This helps to identify objects that did not got my immediate attention.

I try not to forget to add interesting photos to Wikimedia Commons.

Un menhir découvert près de chez moi lors de mes relevés! A menhir that I discovered in my own neighborhood!

How do you collect data during a survey?

In general, I do not plan a lot. I just set out in a certain direction with my Fairphone and adapt my plans along the way. Sometimes because I notice a “Fixme” that I had set previously with OsmAnd, sometime to visit a historical site. Of course, I also follow previously unmapped paths or paths for which there are no photos yet. I do surveys on foot or by bike.

Where do you map?

As previously said, I started abroad via HOT (in Africa and Haïti). Nowadays, I concentrate on Wallonia, especially Brabant Wallon, where I live.

What is your biggest accomplishment so far?

The almost completed map of my hometown (Chaumont-Gistoux), which includes important and less important details such as hedges, gardens, the majority of the POIs (shops and companies) , etc. The only thing that’s left are a few smaller historic objects and wayside chapels!


Why do you map?

It is a passion, which probably also explains my career choice. Furthermore, I believe in this project that allows people from all over the world to collaborate.

I enjoy discovering new places and to study their history. This motivates me to map them using data collected by field surveys as well as by research into e.g. the memorials.

What is the most difficult part in mapping?

I would say that the most difficult is to stay focussed. It is all too easy to start working at all mistakes that one notices. This often means that one forgets about the original mapping subject and continues with something totally different. However, one can gain a lot of time by focussing on one topic. But, Oh! Look a butterfly!

What are your plans for the near future?

I would love to finish the work in Louvain-la-Neuve, as well as adding more details to one of the surrounding villages, named Walhain. Furthermore I will map all historical sites that I visit during the weekends. I will try to focus on the larger historical sites in Wallonia.

Do you have contact with other mappers?

From the beginning I got in touch with the other members of the Belgian OSM community at some meetups in Brussels. I met a few famous mappers there. I also have contact with mappers in Wallonia, whose number is still pretty small. One of them is Julien Minet.

I try to participate as much as possible in meetups and other get-togethers, because I enjoy discussing about the different mapping methods.

Do you use OpenStreetMap yourself?

I use OpenStreetMap regularly in my spare time, e.g. to plan trips during my vacations, to locate a restaurant, etc.

I also use it professionally, expecially the road network, to produce maps or in GIS applications.

Do you do anything else than mapping?

I always try to volunteer during mapathons in Belgium, when they are organised by Médecins sans Frontières or the univerisity. I also particapate in events and conferences, where I try to promote OpenStreetMap.

To conclude, is there anything else that you would like to mention?

I would like to thank everyone that made OpenStreetMap to what it is today. It is an ambitious project, supported by a fantastic community. I am proud to be part of that community. Since I started contributing, I noticed an evolution in the mentality towards the project, both from the government and the private sector. This motivates me, as I know that my work is used.

I would like to call out to all people in Wallonia to participate in OpenStreetMap. The number of mappers in our region is still too low, and there is a lot of work to do. So, do not hesitate and visit one of our meetups, or when that is not possible reach out via our chat channel on Riot.