[HOT] HOT's Mission

Kate Chapman kate at maploser.com
Sun Oct 2 02:36:31 BST 2011

I think with some of your questions Mikel maybe we can use a pragmatic
approach.  Meaning when a project comes up we ask a couple questions:

1. Is there someone who can lead this project competently and within
the methodologies that HOT uses?
2. Does this project fit into the goals of open geodata and further
collection/access to it (should probably be specifically related to
OpenStreetMap of course)?
3. Will taking on this project greatly lessen the ability of HOT to
response to already existing projects or activations?

I have heard some concern about working on projects lessening people's
ability to help with activations.  For me personally I don't think
that has been the case. Since project work has become my full-time job
it has given me the flexibility to work on long-term activities
related to activations.  For example negotiating for better imagery
licensing, participating in planning activities with UN agencies as
well as work on general structure for HOT.  If I wasn't working on
projects I'd have some other job where I wouldn't be working on things
related to HOT at all.  So I think it is a matter of what people are
going to do with their time.

As we approach donors for sustainability funding I would suggest
though we work in budget for having people be able to focus on
activations when necessary.  Especially in cases where they last a
longtime and people begin to need to return their focus to paid work
of some sort.  During Haiti I was very fortunate that my employer at
the time allowed me to work on things not at all related to my job for
about a month afterward.  Many others got at least a week or so to do
that same.  Still others stayed up late nights helping.  That has not
happened for disasters since and is unlikely to happen for many of


On Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 4:13 PM, Mikel Maron <mikel_maron at yahoo.com> wrote:
> I'm going to present a different point of view on this question.
> First, I'm totally philosophically aligned with what I've heard so far. The
> lines between "disaster" and "development" are somewhat arbitrary, and the
> international organizational structures do reflect this, to the detriment of
> response. Following a sudden onset disaster, when is a disaster officially
> "over", and how have the problems changed? Pre-disaster, how can communities
> be made more resilient to future crisis? A more developed country would
> usually have a better response to disaster (though I'm not sure, ex.
> Hurricane Katrina and the panic over a little quake in DC). Knowing when a
> disaster starts is also a decision in many cases, such as famines
> [http://hot.openstreetmap.org/weblog/2011/08/activation-in-somalia/].
> OSM has a unique ability to bridge these divisions ... open data persists
> throughout all stages of a crisis, and to a great extent, the activity in
> similar.
> That said, disaster response does have unique characteristics. The urgency
> of the situation, the particular kinds of things that need mapping, the
> activities that need maps ... this is the raison d'etre of HOT, and it's
> very complicated. The discussions on what counts as an "activation" address
> these issues.
> I promised a different point of view, and haven't really given that so far.
> My concern is very practical, for HOT as an organization taking on projects.
> OSM and HOT as a community, I see as most definitely taking part in
> "development" efforts. The question in my mind is how HOT as an organization
> would take on funded development projects. What criteria do we apply to
> judge a project as being useful to HOT's mission? The projects HOT has been
> involved in so far are more clearly in post-disaster recovery (in Haiti, in
> organizational support to COSMHA) and in disaster risk reduction
> (Indonesia).
> "Development" as a field encompasses so many different kinds of things.
> Infrastructure development, health, governance ... every sector you can
> think of. As Lisa Sweeney mentioned "education can be considered part of
> development". The types of projects this opens up is so intensely varied,
> and while this is an opportunity, it is also a concern.
> HOT needs to be able to respond. How that balances with ongoing projects is
> already a question. How do we judge what kinds of things are appropriate,
> and how do we ensure that HOT as an organization and community is not
> overwhelmed by new activities. I don't have any answers, but only think we
> need to carefully think about the practical impacts that a clearly expanded
> mission creates.
> -Mikel
> == Mikel Maron ==
> +14152835207 @mikel s:mikelmaron
> ________________________________
> From: Kate Chapman <kate at maploser.com>
> To: hot <hot at openstreetmap.org>
> Sent: Sunday, September 25, 2011 12:37 AM
> Subject: [HOT] HOT's Mission
> Hey All,
> So when we incorporated HOT as an official entity the mission
> statement was "Using OpenStreetMap for Disaster Response and Economic
> Development."
> We've also recently talked about the difference between activations
> and projects as well.  Meaning that activations are in response to an
> event and projects are longer term work in preparedness or rebuilding
> for examples.  (Indonesia and Haiti being examples of this)
> Sometimes other projects are suggested more in the realm of
> development projects.  I don't think there is an argument that having
> better maps in developing areas can help people, but is this within
> the scope of HOT?  Is it within the realm of what HOT wants to do or
> is that "mission creep"?
> Some of us on the board have discussed this, but really it is
> something that should come from the HOT membership and community.
> Anyway, we are interested in obtaining some feedback and having a
> discussion through the mailing list.  I will also put it on the agenda
> for the next HOT chat.
> Best,
> -Kate
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