Recap of all things Google in Tanzania last week

Last week Google made the first big developer-oriented entry to Tanzania by organizing the two-day g|Tanzania conference at the Mlimani City and bringing about 20 googlers (Google staff) from around the world to meet with developers in Dar es Salaam.

Series of events kicked off Wednesday afternoon (Feb 1st) at the innovation space, where GTUG had organized Google Office Hours pre-event for active developers. Office hours was a new concept for many of us but the idea is simply to host informal discussions and knowledge sharing with the Google experts based on what people are interested in. Almost all of Google’s staff had arrived by then so people could ask questions on Maps, Adwords, YouTube, Google+, localization, payment solutions, outreach, student programs, etc. At first it took a bit of time to get discussions going, but then it was a briliant way to ask questions and share opinions on the issues. Just have a look from the photo gallery below!

Click to see all photos from the event

Thursday and Friday were the official conference days, 1st aimed at developers and 2nd for businesses. Both days attracted 200-300 participants and many said that actually meeting with all the developers and business people in this big event was actually the greatest revelation and the single most important outcome of the conference – simply meaning that there are a lot of developers and people in the industry already in Tanzania but there are hardly any forums to meet and network. We made lots of notes from the presentations but this post would be too long to share them all, so you can have a look at the presentations available on the agenda-page. Here are a couple of pictures to get a feeling of the conference… ;)

Click to see more photos from the conference

Saturday was for fun and hanging out together with the Mapping Party back at the innovation space. Evans Arabu who works on Google Maps and Map Maker at the Nairobi office proposed us the idea of organizing a mapping party together with GTUG on Saturday. Well, of course we did! Evans had to close the registration form around 150 people because the innovation space can only seat about 70 people. Evans gave a quick intro to the Map Maker and then participants started map their surrounding in Dar es Salaam together. There were maybe 50 people on computers mapping and if we assume each added information on 5 locations, that’s already 250 new places on Google Maps in Dar es Salaam. You can see the progress from the Map Maker Pulse. And it’s not a party if there isn’t music, food and drinks, so of course those were taken care of; in the afternoon the space looked like a techie campsite. See for yourself from the gallery below!

Click to see all pictures from the mapping party

This wasn’t actually the first attempt of mapping Dar es Salaam via community or crowdsourced means. Students of Ardhi University recently mapped Tandale settlement using OpenStreetMap in collaboration with the World Bank. Msilikale who worked in that project took also part on the Mapping Party and right after the party he wrote an interesting post on the differences of Map Maker and OpenStreetMap. Added 9.2.2012: World Bank and Google also have a controversial agreement on sharing the crowdsourced data.

Which ever approach the mappers and developers take, it’s important that events like these are bringing people together to test new services, technologies and development environments! Thanks Google and GTUG! Happy days!

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