[HOT] Meeting with WB about MapMaker?

Chris Blow cgblow at gmail.com
Fri Feb 3 20:04:11 GMT 2012

The more I read about this the more confused I am. 

For example — how this will affect http://data.worldbank.org? It's TOS are not compatible with the Google TOS, right? So presumably all data input with Google Map Maker will have to be excluded from their catalogue. 

Which would be ironic because, if I read it right, the data lost to Google under this MOU will be gathered under the Open Aid Partnership [1], which is dedicated to transparency. 

To me Aleem Walji sounds like the right person to talk to — he runs the open data initiatives right? Those have been huge buzzwords at WB lately. So if anyone would be able to articulate how foolish this is for the WB, it should be him. (Surely he doesn't want to turn the WB's nascent open data community into a LAN party.) 

Is their new Map Maker private cloud going to going to eat away at at a significant data sources? At first, I thought not, but now I'm not so sure, it might be worse than I thought at first. As far as I can tell, this is going to be closely paired with their data intake from partners. It seems that this will siphon data from thousands of on-the-ground NGOs, many of which are not actively producing accurate or interesting geodata but will presumably be increasingly encouraged to do so. As the WB encourages on the ground hacking, it will be driving data entry into maps that are then unavailable for those NGOs to use in any context except the LAN party.

Also at first glance, a private cloud of Map Makers which is being woven into WB support contracts seems like it would make data.worldbank.org obsolete — and its web clients from the WB hackathons last year.   

Presumably WB will continue to broker basic country, region and district level stats (infant mortality) etc., from other sources besides the ones the Google MOU focuses on — but as far as I can tell from the press release [2] it seems to remove some of most interesting data from the catalogue, the NGO-collected data, before we have even really gotten started to see it. This MOU seems to pre-emptively grab up thousands of on-the-ground emitters.

naively, and confused, 


[1] OAP is mandated to "map activities supported by development assistance and create a web-based collaborative Open Aid Map that helps improve coordination, efficiency, transparency and accountability of development assistance." — this seems to indicate a rather broad mandate being inherited by Google Map Maker, implying that they will be pushing full blown mapping, not just minor activity data about NGOs (which is what they have collected so far I think). See also http://maps.worldbank.org and http://maps.worldbank.org/opendata

[2] the main press release: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:23088022~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html

On Feb 2, 2012, at 6:33 PM, Kate Chapman wrote:

> Hi Andrzej,
> My issue with the agreement is I think it is short-sighted.  Maybe it
> will "alleviate poverty" now, but will it stifle economic growth
> later?  Is the decision a short-term gain which has really long term
> consequences?
> Personally I could care less of the World Bank "partners" with OSM or
> anyone else.  I do care that they adopt and follow policies of using
> actual open-data licenses.
> Best,
> -Kate
> On Fri, Feb 3, 2012 at 8:41 AM, andrzej zaborowski <balrogg at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> On 3 February 2012 00:39, Martin Holmgren <d95marty at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Good luck at the meeting, it will be very interesting to hear the World
>>> Bank's reasons for choosing Google as partner over OSM.
>> I hear everyone complaining about this decision, and me I'd also like
>> everyone to just partner with OSM and never with Google, but in the
>> end I can understand their position.  They're not choosing Google over
>> OSM, they're trying to use all tools that are available to fight
>> poverty.  OSM is one tool, GMM is another.  GMM has some an undeniable
>> advantage, its popularity.
>> The other day Frederik wrote a message in a thread about some data
>> import in a HOT activation, saying something like "if the goal is to
>> help build OSM community in that area, then this may be the wrong
>> way".  I thought "duh... no, Frederik, the goal is to help rescuers on
>> the ground save lives".  Now HOT is on the other side of the argument.
>>  World Bank is doing something that in the long term may damaging to
>> world's free data but right now it's helping fight poverty.
>> Cheers
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