Citizen Science Month Spotlight: The Unique Mappers in Nigeria

Join the Unique Mappers for Citizen Science Month

The Unique Mappers are doing a Mapathon from April 12 to April 17 for Vulnerable Flood Disaster Communities in Nigeria. In Nigeria? Join them!

About the Unique Mappers in Nigeria

The content of this section in the blog is adapted from a previously published post.

“The concept of mapping is usually about tracing buildings and routes, but now I’m introducing them to a new idea, and it’s all about mapping the brain!” – Victor Sunday

After a flood in Rivers State, Nigeria, a volunteer geographic information team began gathering data on buildings and routes. They mapped the population density in the region, estimating where the flood had affected the most people. The founder of this group was Victor Sunday, who established the ‘Unique Mappers Team‘ while studying for his PhD at University of Nigeria, Enugu and working at University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt.

Victor was originally interested in the intersection of geographic information systems (GIS) and crowdsourcing with Open Street Map, but when EyesOnALZ called out for large, organized teams of citizen scientists during the first International Catchathon, Victor thought the Unique Mappers would be up for the challenge of mapping stalled blood vessels in the brain. Moving from streets and kilometers to vessels and micrometers, Victor gathered the group of undergraduates, post-graduates, and Rivers residents on the day of the big catchathon. Members of the team were hooked, staying active on the game even after the competition ended.

Today, Victor organizes more than 500 citizen scientists who map floods with Open Street Map and vessels with Stall Catchers. “I discovered that I had to not only mobilize a crowd, but also to sustain the community,” Victor said. He engages with the Unique Mappers through a group chat that was buzzing with messages as Victor and I spoke.

In the coming year, he plans to grow the enthusiastic group of mappers (especially reaching out to women mappers!) in Nigeria and to develop the new Zimbabwean chapter of the team. When Victor is not working with the mappers, he lectures at the university, participates actively in Nigerian Environmental Society, and coordinates professional activities for the Geoinformation Society of Nigeria in Rivers State, and The Institute of Certified Geographers of Nigeria(ICGN). If he has a moment to spare, he spends time listening to Christian music and swimming.

Spotlight on a Unique Mapper: In Her Words

I’m Ezinne Kalu, a student. I was introduced to Unique mappers by a friend of mine, and from Unique mapper, I got to know about Citizen Science. I played Stall catchers for the first time in 2018, and I found it to be very intriguing. To me it was like a game and oh my! I love games. When I found out that I wasn’t just playing a game, that I was also helping scientists find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, it further fueled me to participate in Stall catchers(I mean wouldn’t want to help in finding the cure for Alzheimer’s?).

I’ve come to understand more and more what Citizen Science is all about. I love volunteering, because it’s like an avenue of giving back to society. Unique Mappers and Citizen Science has given me an opportunity to participate in a lot of projects, which has in a way, given me a sense of fulfilment, knowing that I’m contributing to the betterment of the World.

Categories: Citizen Science Month

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About the Author

Caroline Nickerson

Caroline is a Master of Public Policy student at American University with a focus on environmental and climate change policy. She also works with the UF-VA UNESCO Bioethics Unit, the Christensen Project, the DC Gator Club, and the Commission on Local Debates. Caroline manages SciStarter's Syndicated Blog Network, which encompasses the Science Connected, Discover Magazine, and SciStarter platforms, and manages programs at SciStarter.