Googling and Giggling: Google Mapping Summit in Magandang Gensan

Mapping is more fun in this part of the Archipelago last Saturday when the Google Geo Advocate Team and new mappers from Mindanao Island gathered at STI Gensan building in General Santos City to complete the last leg of the nationwide Map Making Summit. 
The Google Geo Advocates
Mindanao Summit is the last of the three legs after Google Southeast Asia Team finished the Luzon (Baguio City, April 14) and Visayas (Bacolod, April 12) events earlier this month.
Internet giant Google is developing an interactive map with reliable information and it is reaching out to local mapping advocates to help complete the task of providing community map information with details, of course, only locals know about. The map details which will be reflected in Google Map and Google Earth are expected to  help stakeholders in community planning, disaster preparedness as well as tourism. Editing will be through Google Map Maker, a browser-based Internet application that allows users to edit, modify, or correct entries in Google maps.

On my part, the best thing about the summit besides meeting new acquaintances and learning how to use Google mapping softwares is the idea of belonging to another circle of enthusiastic and eager advocates moving forward for the promotion of local tourism and putting up simple systems that could be of great help to the community. 
Chief organizer Avel Manansala of SOX Bloggers and his brother Orman taking charge of the mic
Thanks to the organizers led by Ms. Aileen A. De Jesus of Google Southeast Asia Team and Mr Avel Manansala, the "patriarch" of SOCSKSARGEN Bloggers (SOX Bloggers). It was just a one-day event but it seemed like a lot has happened - from lectures to workshops to candid laugh trips that made each participant's day. Not to mention the other highlight of the summit - Free Google Map Maker T-shirt!!

The South Cot. Team

Here's what the summit is all about and Google's direction for the mapping advocacy in my news article published in today's issue of BusinessWorld Newspaper:

Google hosts mapping summit to aid in disaster preparedness

GENERAL SANTOS -- Internet giant Google recently completed its Mindanao leg in its Map Maker Summit.

The project is aimed at developing an interactive map with reliable information helpful in community planning, disaster preparedness as well as tourism. Google Map Maker is a browser-based Internet application that allows users with Google accounts to edit, modify, or correct entries in Google maps.

Aileen A. De Jesus, head of Outreach for Google Southeast Asia, said on Saturday that data in an interactive map will be provided by an active community of mappers and volunteers. Users, meanwhile, can add points and roads and names of establishments with other details in such maps.
The same gathering was also conducted in Bacolod City on April 12 for the Visayas and Baguio City on April 14 for Luzon.
Ms. De Jesus said during her presentation entitled “Mapping our Future: The Philippine Tourism Project,” that the Department of Tourism (DoT) gave the nod for partnership with Google in mapping all existing and potential tourism sites in the country.
The mapping summit also used DoT’s slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”
Ms. De Jesus said the overwhelming presence of mappers and regional mapping moderators helped Google conduct summits previously held only in more economically advanced countries.
Avel Manansala, General Santos City media affairs officer, noted the importance of readily available information for tourists, visitors and businessmen in the Google Map and Google Earth applications.
More than being a locator’s guide, these applications can provide more details on the places and establishments including contact numbers, through generated applications.
Ms. De Jesus said Google Maps and Google Earth have been helpful during disasters such as typhoon Ondoy in Luzon in 2009 where some users accessed the application to locate safer areas, evacuation centers and even victims in need of help.
Ms. De Jesus is part of the Google Geo Advocate Team that facilitated the three summits along with other Google mapping experts from Singapore and India. -- Louie O. Pacardo

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