[HOT] Details for a article

Chris Blow cgblow at gmail.com
Mon Dec 27 04:39:59 GMT 2010


Matthias, 

Looking forward to your article! 

Regarding Ushahidi vs. Crisiscommons vs. HOT: there is some overlap in the personnel, a great deal of overlap in the motivations, but formally the 3 organizations are all quite different. If a major crisis hits, you might see all three organizations jump into action -- a couple of Ushahidi instances setup to take reports from the ground, perhaps a few CrisisCamps that doing a wide range of work with ad hoc groups of geeks, and HOT doing its work with OSM.

Overall, the picture is quite rich, though perhaps overly complex if you haven't been following along with every little blog post. Particularly since last January, there is a real diversity of outlets for digital humanitarianism. I think the Ushahidi / CrisisCommons / HOT comparison is a really useful one for getting a sense of where we are at.

Some points about Ushahidi: 

- Ushahidi is a nonprofit with 13 employees, the most formal of the three. [0]
- It is *also* an open source tool for taking "reports" from the ground. 
- The nonprofit is about 2 and a half years old.
- Ushahidi (the software) takes reports via SMS/email/web/smatphone to create an aggregate picture of an emerging event.
- The Ushahidi interaction design is event-oriented (in contrast to the OSM POI-orientation).
- The Ushahidi admin panel is mostly designed for a team of editors to validate the reports (according to an arbitrary standard of veracity.) 
- The tool is often also used to monitor media -- by attaching URLs from mainstream media to the reports.
- The user base has a strong humanitarian orientation, but there are a bunch of non-crisis related instances (eg, for birdwatching).
- A map is the primary visualization layer for the incoming data (openlayers), but it actually is not exclusively a geo thing, it's mostly a mobile/web reporting tool, with a very prominent map added on.
- Ushahidi the nonprofit does not usually sponsor instances of its software -- rather, it provides support to other groups that take ownership over an instance. (Two notable exceptions to this were http://haiti.ushahidi.com last January, and the first instance in 2008, for tracking election violence in Kenya, both of which were operated by Ushahidi staff.)
- Strong Nairobi, Kenya basis, but the software is in wide international use
- At this time, unfortunately, there is not automated way to direct data from an Ushahidi map into OSM. I have never seen data go from an Ushahidi instance into OSM -- not yet! 
- Has an option to use OSM maps as a base layer for incoming Ushahidi reports -- this is the extent of programmatic integration.
- Is similar to other crisis-oriented, grant-based nonprofit groups with executive leadership such as InSTEDD[1] and Sahana[2]. 
- There are also two other tools made by the Ushahidi nonprofit, SwiftRiver and Crowdmap [3]
- I would recommend getting an account on Crowdmap to get a feel for how Ushahidi works, in a few minutes' time [4]

Some comparative points about CrisisCommons:

- Much more similar to HOT because of its fluid structure, and it is exclusively about humanitarian situations
- Takes sponsorship from various NGOs
- Three (or so) core organizers, with a few dozen (or so) other executive members attending yearly "crisis congress" [5] 
- As of 2 weeks ago it has a lot more money than HOT :) [6]
- broader than HOT (uses dozens of tools, including OSM)
- CrisisCommons has sponsored dozens of hackathons ("CrisisCamps") with small software experiments and crisis-response data entry sprints (including, I think most productively, the HOT-style map tracing into OSM) [5]
- Like OSM and Ushahidi, it had a big surge in visibility after the Haitian earthquake last January
- Has a strong Washington DC basis, but lots of representation in different parts of the world
- Is similar to other broad-spectrum, mission-driven, digital grassroots efforts, such as World-Bank-sponsored Random Hacks of Kindness [8], the new UN outfit Global Pulse[9], and the CrisisMappers list and conference (which, since last October, has as new "Standby Task Force" which is very similar in spirit to HOT -- are you confused yet?) 

Some concluding points about HOT, in this context:

- HOT is the smallest of the three. 
- HOT has the most specific mandate.
- HOT actually sends people to do work on the ground. 
- HOT does not have a big publicity arm, or big funding.
- HOT the most selective about what it does and whom it works with.

I think these are all trade-offs that leave each organization with idiosyncratic capacities.

Naturally, these are all merely my opinions -- I have volunteered a little bit with all three, but ultimately I'm just someone who reads a lot of mailing lists. And I welcome corrections on my points!

[0] http://www.ushahidi.com/about-us
[1] http://instedd.org/
[2] http://sahanafoundation.org/
[3] http://ushahidi.com/products
[4] http://crowdmap.com
[5] http://wiki.crisiscommons.org/wiki/CrisisCongress
[6] http://highearthorbit.com/crisiscommons-receives-funding-from-sloan-foundation/
[7] http://crisiscommons.org/crisiscamp/
[8] http://www.rhok.org/
[9] http://www.unglobalpulse.org/
[10] http://irevolution.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/not/

Cheers,
Chris Blow




On Dec 25, 2010, at 6:17 AM, Matthias Meißer wrote:

> Hi there,
> 
> thanks to Nicholas and Sam I already have good details for the article. I would be glad if Robert Soden would give me some more, but this will take a while till I'm back home.
> 
> Another question still open is, where the differences/similarities to Ushahidi or CrisisCommons?
> 
> best wishes
> Matthias
> 
> _______________________________________________
> HOT mailing list
> HOT at openstreetmap.org
> http://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/hot


On Dec 25, 2010, at 6:37 AM, Mike Dupont wrote:

> HI, you can mention that we worked on the little know albanian flooding, got help from the giscorps, and our work was used to help with the new flooding this dec. 
> 
> mike
> 
> 2010/12/22 Matthias Meißer <digi_c at arcor.de>
> Hi there,
> 
> weeks ago I already requested a co-author for a german article of the german bureau of protection and disaster-management. unfortunatly nobody was able to join :(
> 
> So I will proceed to do the work alone, but therefore I would be glad if you can give me a few more informations (or write text blocks that I will translate to german). So here a few question that show you the focus of the text:
> 
> - History of HOT, was there any coordinated action before Haiti2010?
> - What changed the HOT? In which kind it is better organised?
> - I read about a HOT task force during Haiti that came with equipment to support the local troops and GIS officers. Are there any further informations/photos?
> - Personaly I would say that Haiti had a peak of volunteered informations, could (or why not) it repeated on later disasters?
> - Wishlist: What is the HOT looking for? What are problems (on both: OSM and authorities)
> 
> Are there any hi-res photos that I can send with your persmission to the magazine?
> 
> I would be glad if you would support my work :)
> 
> regards
> Matthias
> 
> _______________________________________________
> HOT mailing list
> HOT at openstreetmap.org
> http://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/hot
> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> James Michael DuPont
> Member of Free Libre Open Source Software Kosova and Albania flossk.org flossal.org
> _______________________________________________
> HOT mailing list
> HOT at openstreetmap.org
> http://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/hot

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