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. Learn more about our Iraq operations here.
In 2006, JumpStart brought its approach of engaging the local community through income-generating clearance and rebuilding projects to Gaza. JumpStart partnered with the University College of Applied Sciences in Gaza to support development of the Gaza Polytechnic Institute, building 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 in partnership with Kitegang.
JumpStart’s economic 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.
Street mapping has a strong nexus to JumpStart as its founder, Sean O’Sullivan, was among the first to develop computer-based street mapping while a college student in the mid-80s and built his company, MapInfo, into one of the leaders of this important market in the early 90s.
JumpStart’s efforts to engage communities in mapping revealed we were not only building new technical capacity in data creation, but also new social capital through connecting a community. 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 to build a lasting entity, would provide local mapping participants the expertise and infrastructure needed to form a sustainable organization able to provide leading-edge geodata consulting to local NGOs, government and businesses, and grow 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 became the foundation for Open Maps Caucasus, a JumpStart International mapping initiative, now known as JumpStart Georgia.
JumpStart Georgia is dedicated to the creation and effective use of open geographic data and promoting open exchange of knowledge in general. JumpStart International supports this Tbilisi-based organization’s development with financial and technical support. Through JumpStart Georgia, we are building sustainable capacity for not only generating but also effectively using open data, and growing a hub of social entrepreneurs exploring ways the latest mapping and other technologies enhance development.
Through JumpStart Georgia, we are piloting an entrepreneurial model for sustainable development, adding value to Georgia’s emerging civil society and business communities, under a rallying principle of open access to information.
See a day in the life of a mapper on Georgia’s national open map project: A Day In Review