It is now nearly five years since I first dreamt of a public map of African terrestrial fibre projects. Inspired by the popularity of the map of African Undersea Cables, it seemed a natural next step as investment in terrestrial networks has grown. The project turned out to be a lot harder than I imagined. It was harder than I expected to develop an online mechanism for crowd-sourcing fibre network data but much harder than that was finding the crowd. I think I imagined that there would more shared passion for this project. Sometimes I wonder how many times I will have to learn the build-it-and-they-will-come lesson. Having said that, I remain committed to this project because I think it tells an important story about how communication infrastructure on the African continent is changing. In the words of Arlo Guthrie, “I’m not proud, or tired”
So work quietly continues on the AfTerFibre map. This is largely thanks to the Network Startup Resource Center who have generously offered to host the map and to allow me some time to work on updating it. The map’s new home is at https://afterfibre.nsrc.org/
The map remains an Open Data initiative. All the GIS data can be downloaded in a variety of formats from the CartoDB platform. The website has been developed using cartodb.js and you can find the code for it online at Github. If you’d like to get involved, there is a Google group you can join or you can contact me directly.
More than anything else what is needed at the moment is for people to validate the map elements. For each fibre segment on the map, there is now a link in the infoWindow to tweet a correction or update about that segment. Any corrections can also be tweeted to #AfTerFibre.
If anyone has any thoughts on how to create a more effective feedback mechanism to improve the accuracy of the map, I would love to hear any ideas you may have.