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Letter From Africa: How I Helped Put Gambians On Google Maps

Letter From Africa: How I Helped Gambians On Google Maps. According to BBC a series of letters from African journalists, Ade Daramy, Sierra Leonean-Gambian writer explains how he was instrumental in getting Gambians an address.

Letter From Africa: How I Helped Put Gambians On Google Maps

He did a piece about how easy it was to get lost in the Gambia where few streets are named.  This sparks up a lively debate in the small West African nation and Daramy also received lots of messages on social media from people saying “ Its the same in my country.”

However, some people viewed it as humor, as she explains how bank forms, for instance, had boxes big enough for you to draw where your house was, in relation to the nearest landmarks.

Although it has taken COVID-19 to show people that addresses are not a cosmetic add-on but a necessity.

He asked, how do you contact trace and monitor suspected coronavirus-infected people if you do not have a proper address where you can find them?

Again, how do you pick up all the suspected cases to take to a quarantine center, when you spend hours being directed to a single house and there are lots of patients in other places who also need to be picked up?

Letter From Africa: How I Helped Put Gambians On Google Maps

According to Ade Daramy, “I imagine my surprise and delight when the nonprofit organization finding Gambia called the TV channel where I work to see if we could cover a pilot scheme to give people addresses. My names and telephone number were given as contacts, at which point they said “Is it the same Ade Daramy who wrote that BBC article?”

I was a little flattered to be told that my piece had been used in several meetings to convince potential partners, that is the central government and municipal councils of the necessity for addresses.

The people who started Finding Gambia, Bakary Suso, and Alieu Sowe explained that they were using plus codes to do this.

Gambian Houses Are Without Names Or Numbers

However, it is google tech, useable both online and offline that creates a shortcode for any location which can easily direct people using Google Maps. The codes work like street addresses and are made up of two elements, the shortcode of between six and seven letters and numbers, And then a locality- town or city.

Daramy said he was intrigued as their team set off to address the issue. Thus they arrived at the first house where a sign with its code printed on was fixed to the outside wall.

They repeated the process at residences and businesses in one of the largest residential areas of The Gambia, each with its own unique identifier. He tested it out on his Google map app and indeed it worked, pointing him directly to one of the doors.

Not minding the unarguable logic of this or any address system, Sowe and Suso told Dammy that they had been having a difficult time getting the required authorities on board, which is where coronavirus has probably come to their rescue.

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