[HOT] What I want from Hot - Response

Mark Cupitt markcupitt at gmail.com
Thu Mar 12 16:24:51 UTC 2015

Hi Maning, Zacharia, Althio, Russ, Robert and the Rest of the HOT Community

I thought I would be the first board candidate to address these GREAT
thoughts and suggestions on the future of HOT. If elected, I will do my
best to address at as many of these during my term as I can and possibly
help put a framework in place for future boards to continue to work with.

I will try and address all the points raised in order:

*Data Contribution by consumers of our efforts*

This is something we should strive to achieve. It is not an easy goal but
we need to start somewhere. It is so easy for people to just post a project
on Task manager and get their mapping done. Many organizations do engage
back with us in many ways, but as HOT grows we will face an increasing
number of requests for Humanitarian Mapping. One way that this could be
achieved is via a formalization of the Activation Process and the
implementation of a Training requirement for Activation Coordinators.  We
could consider using this process to formalize some way of return
contribution to HOT, which could be training additional activators, working
with HOT in field activation's or many other possibilities. This is worth
considering for the future

*Local Community Capacity*

This is an absolute MUST HAVE for us as a priority. In case you are not
aware, HOT is about to start an Activation Sprint Workshop to produce
training material and courses specifically to train Activation
Coordinators. I have volunteered to be part of that process as I think it
will be one of the most critical projects we have this year. The primary
target audience for the training is local people, in country, so that they
can continue to develop DRR and Preparedness activities and train
additional people. (See comments on Preparedness as well)

*Disaster Preparedness and DRR*

This should be a high priority in our HOT work. Providing resources and
tools for local communities needs to be high on our agenda, It has been a
focus of HOT in the past and we need to expand that effort. We have some
limitations with available financing, but every effort needs to be made to
engage with Communities.

One of the avenues to address this may be the process of finding members of
the HOT community who might be willing to be the contact point for a
community and provide mentoring, support and a direct line into the HOT
organization.  In my mind, this is like an “*Own a Community*” program.
There may be other ways and we should engage the different communities to
see what their needs are..

*Better Tools*

This is always a challenge with funding and resources. I just Open Sourced
a Personal development effort today, a Tool called the Humanitarian
Activation tool. The tool is designed to make the lives of Activation
Coordinators a lot easier and place all the information needed in one place
to help with planning and decision making. Full details at
https://github.com/MarkCupitt/Hat (Demo at http://hat.markware.net )

This was not an official HOT development, rather I did it off my own bat
because I felt it was needed and could be extremely. The tool is about 85%
finished to Version 1 Stage and has not been adopted by HOT.

I believe we have a community of very capable people and that there is
power in numbers. There are also a number of people out there who may be
willing to contribute to some tool development.

I intend to canvass the membership and community at large to see what
skills we already have in programming and development and who would be
willing to contribute to a project.

I have some personal ideas based on my experience in the Philippines, as
Maning pointed out, connectivity is a huge issue. Even if we did not finish
the tool, getting it to a serious development stage may well attract
funding opportunities.

Over and above the community, we are governed by funding availability. If
anyone has specific projects with a reasonable detailed explanation of what
they should do, I would love to hear from them and lest see what can be

*Regional Exchange and Mentoring*

Mentoring is one of the areas I am very keen to promote (See remarks on DRR

I think Mentoring is critical to the learning process and exchange of
information and techniques in a Humanitarian Environment. You just cannot
go to school and learn this stuff.  Every country, disaster and activation
is different, with different needs and responses required.

An understanding of this is essential to everyone involved and mentoring is
a GREAT way to share and build relationships.

Apart from that, mentoring helps build networks of people who have a common
bond and who can help share the load, give advice and offer a nice cup of
virtual coffee when needed.

This concept also works well with the “Own a Community” concept mentioned
above as it is basically a mentoring role.

*Board Feedback*

Well, to be blunt, this has to improve to the HOT membership. Unfortunately
with Kate’s resignation, it will put a dent in the Board’s ability to
address this properly, purely from a practical standpoint, but it is
something that I feel must happen.

My personal reason is simple, since nominating for the board, I have
realized how little I actually knew about what HOT did and what to
achieves, sure there are emails, that get sent but there is no real “One
place to go” to get an understanding about what is happening at any time.

I would like to see a Presidents report to the General Community on a
monthly basis and a second report to the Membership with more HOT business
related matters addressed.  If the board agrees, I will take the
responsibility to do this.


This, again, I feel must happen as a priority. I would like to see this
addressed early in the term of the new board and all Governance issues
decided and presented to the membership for a vote as soon as possible. I
have already had a conversation with Russ about some options and have
offered to work with him and support him to get this done.

I absolutely agree with a two year rotation of board members to promote
continuity of the job of running HOT. I proposed it in an email a few days
ago and will do my absolute best to see that that happens.

*Communication for Working Groups, Projects etc.*

The current primary communication tools used are Mumble, IRC and Email,
with Google Docs and Hackpad also used. It is difficult to find anything
that "does it all".

I know, I have been looking hard over the past couple of weeks.  I have on
my agenda to do something about this, find some tool we can use to do this
that works for all cases. This is a tall order as we have to accommodate
people on the go with Android, Apple Devices and Desktops.

One of my goals is to go to the Community with another questionnaire,
possibly on the same one mentioned above, and find out what devices the
community actually uses and ask what their preferences would be for HOT
related activities. It is pointless using something that is not good for
everyone. There may not be only one solution for this, but we need to start
the process and see what options there are.

*Community Toolkit*

This is a good idea, I am not sure if we have the resources to do this, I’m
not a board member yet. We can certainly define what this means, look at
tying this in with “Own a Community” and see what resources we can provide
to get started.

Having communities submit requests is also a good place to start and
probably something we could achieve with a Simple On Line System, at least
we will be able to gauge the level of interest.

*Direct Democracy*

I have sat on the board of a number of volunteer organizations in my years,
and this is always a topic of conversation.

Volunteer Organizations are very difficult to run as a true democracy,
simply because they are volunteers and there is usually little formal
mandate or requirement to actually contribute. As I understand it, the only
actual commitment that a HOT Voting member actually makes is to vote when

I recently commented to an associate that I did not really understand how
the HOT email list worked. I had sent an email about my thoughts on
governance. Several people told me in conversation that it was a great
idea, but I got almost zero response on the email list. I wondered why! Was
it that no one objected at all, no one read it, or do you assume people
agree if there is no massive outraged response?

What this highlights is the difficulty in obtaining a mandate to proceed in
a volunteer organization.

The organizations leaders need to get on with the business of the
organization, after all, that’s why they are elected to office in the first
place, to run the organization and make decisions.

If the voting members did not have the confidence that the elected person
could discharge their duty properly then that board member would have not
been elected in the first place.

The process of the election and member ratification applies a certain
mandate to the elected people to run the organization on behalf of the
membership. Board Members are legally liable and  can be held financially
liable for their decisions on the Board. So most directors take decisions
with great care.

Now, having said that, HOT is a primarily a group of Volunteers with an
organization behind it to handle the nitty gritty stuff that has to get

HOT started as a group of volunteers meeting a vital need in a crisis.

It is critical that we never forget that simple fact.

HOT is composed of wonderful people who give their time and energy in our
contributions voluntarily and it is also composed of a core group of voting
members who have chosen to step up and be more active with their
involvement in the organization itself. I am one of these people.

*The bottom line* is that, if we can change our operating model to require
more of a commitment from the membership than just voting, we could
possibly move to a more decentralized democratic model.

That time has not yet come, but it is something that will probably come
naturally in the years ahead as we get more members in the organization and
we have a stronger commitment, response to meetings and the decision making
process by all the members.

Thanks for your time in reading this, I feel it is important for you all to
hear my views. Nothing is set in stone! As a board member, it would be my
duty to carry out the mandate of the membership and this I would do to the
best of my ability


Mark Cupitt
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