Meet Gambia’s Google Maps Accessibility Champion, Alpha Sumareh
Alpha Amadou Sumareh is the top Gambian Local Guiding Star recognized this year as such by Google. He has been endorsed on Google’s Local Business Champion Guiding Stars category by Google Local Guides and got featured on several Google social media platforms.
Local Guides is a global community of explorers who write reviews, share photos, answer questions, add or edit places, and check facts on Google Maps. Millions of people rely on contributions like Alpha’s to decide where to go and what to do.
As of 2020, Alpha’s contributions got over 10 million views on Google Maps, as he added 195 places with 636 edits and 2716 answers. He check out a list of restaurants he created on Google Maps that he called “Taste of the Smiling Coast”.
The 50 Guiding Stars were recognized through their instrumental contribution to this year on Google Maps. Its (google maps) gets about 50 million daily contributions by millions of Local Guides to keep Google Maps updated and accurate.
“I find it personally rewarding to ensure that dynamic communities are accurately reflected on Google Maps. Being a Local Guide simply enables me to do the things I love the most, while constantly learning and boosting personal growth. No two days are the same”, he said.
Despite being away from home, Alpha spent most of his free time supporting Local Businesses in The Gambia to get them listed on Google Maps.
“One of the highlights of my year as a Local Guide was being able to offer free, virtual training for twelve women-owned Gambian businesses about social media marketing” Alpha proudly told The Chronicle. He trained these women on how to add their listing on Google Maps, and how to use “Google My Business” to continue thriving during the pandemic.
Passionate about both inclusivity and accessibility, he incorporates important information on the topics he cares about in his reviews on Google Maps and his posts on Connect. He also uses Google Maps in other ways to raise awareness, like in his African-Owned Businesses in Mağusa list.
Alpha finds it personally rewarding in ensuring that dynamic communities are accurately reflected on Google Maps.
“Being a Local Guide is a lifestyle for me,” he said. “I love to add missing places, update business listings and related accessibility information, post clear photos, give detailed reviews about my experiences. And help with any other Google Maps-related contributions, which have now become my favorite hobby.”
Alpha works at TAF Africa Global as Digital Media Strategist, currently on study leave in North Cyprus at Eastern Mediterranean University for his degree program on Information Technology.
He started mapping places in The Gambia in early 2013 with limited knowledge. “My knowledge and passion were killed by luddites with internet phobia.”
It wasn’t until 2016, a year after Google launched the Local Guides program. When he had gone to Singapore for the Young Leaders Fellowship by World Islamic Economic Forum (WIFE), he regained his confidence since he did not have a choice as all the navigation was on Google Maps.
Initially, things were difficult for Alpha as almost everything was digitized which was overwhelming for him at one point but he swam through it. “I made new local guide friends from the program and they restored my faith and passion.” In sharing photos on Google. He said.
Some prominent places in The Gambia Alpha added on Google Maps include Sir Dawda Kairaba International Conference Center, Qcity, Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission – TRRC, Gambia Civil Aviation Authority, Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry – GCCI, Semlex Office, The Chronicle, The Fatu Network, West Africa Examination Council, UK Visa Application Center, Petrol Stations, Banks, ATMS and so many Local and International Business.
Alpha said being a Local Guide is a lifestyle for him. “I get really excited about discovering wonderful spots around town, taking pictures, and helping others find those locations with ease.”
Since he discovered challenges regarding accessibility in 2017, he was concerned about being an advocate for these groups. “Until I started learning through the program. When I travel, I find myself in places where my only option for a navigation service is Google Maps”, Alpha Said.