Wednesday May 5 2010

Makerere ICT students place Ugandan districts on Google Africa map

By Flavia Nalubega

Ugandan districts can now be accessed more easily after their locations were established on the Google network. Google Africa, in partnership with Makerere University’s Faculty of Computing and Information Science has made it possible to locate districts in Uganda on Google maps network at no cost.

For the first time ever, districts like Soroti, Jinja and Gulu can be located on the internet easily while at any particular location. Gone are the days when online space was reserved for only big cities and towns.
“Before, Google maps provision was made for only prominent big cities and towns. We have gone a step ahead and added the local places into the map to ease movement and sites location especially for new entrants,” Mr Richard Ngamita, a data analyst from Google Africa told Daily Monitor.

This has been made possible by the 10 best ICT students from Makerere University who participated in the Google Map marker competition which attracted over 100 students, and required them to among other things, map their locality on Google.

“These people were tasked with establishing different locations on the map and the individual who put in place the most locations on the map emerged as the best,” Mr Ngamita said.

Micheal Kakande, a first year computer science student was declared the competition’s winner after he located the most important towns within Uganda. Kakande told Daily Monitor that the task had been made difficult by the altitudes and vegetation cover.

“I found it difficult to mark Jinja because there is heavy vegetation especially in Mabira forest. The vegetation is so thick that marking through it to get to Jinja was kind of difficult but I successfully located the place on the map,” Mr Kakande said. Other places that have been established on the map include Soroti, Mbale, Mbarara, Jinja and all districts in northern Uganda.

Mr Ngamita explained that this exercise was aimed at making the world a more global village. Kakande was rewarded with a Compaq laptop.
The students gained valuable exposure to real-world software development scenarios, and employment opportunities in areas related to this field. This is a new area for job opportunities which many have not yet discovered.

Google maps are helpful to travel companies because they help in following up on the journeys taken by the company vehicles. They are also helpful in tracking lost and carjacked vehicles, especially along highways.

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