[HOT] Hurricane Matthew: involving the local OSM communities

Severin Menard severin.menard at gmail.com
Tue Oct 25 06:11:45 UTC 2016

On January 12, 2010, a huge Earthquake hit the heart of Haiti, causing tens
of thousands of casualties. The OSM community activated for the first time
and created within a few days the most detailed map of Port-Au-Prince and
its outskirts that has been used by the humanitarian organizations deployed
in the country. This is a well-known story among whoever involved in
OpenStreetMap. A bit less known is that a few people went to the field to
promote OSM, train on its techniques not only among the humanitarian
organizations but also went to the most affected communities like the one
of Cité Soleil and started creating local capacities.

I know this story well : I was at that time one of the 600+ OSM volunteers
mapping over Port-au-Prince and struggling with editing conflicts and
offset imagery issues due to unconsolidated georeferencing. In February, I
was working as a GIS Information Management consultant for OCHA and did my
best to facilitate the deployment of Nicolas Chavent and Robert Soden from
what was then the informal HOT group. A few months later HOT US Inc was
created and was involved in disaster field mapping for the cholera response
and disaster shelter preparedness mapping  in Haiti. HOT’s first baseline
data mapping focused project for development context was in 2012 in
Saint-Marc. The first use of drone for OSM mapping happened in 2013 with
the Cap-Haitian project in northern Haiti. In between, HOT’s activities in
Haiti raised attention and allowed eg the project in Indonesia to start. In
short, everything has started in Haiti for HOT US Inc. In 2016, the country
is severely hit again.

Regarding the drones, it is sad to see that HOT US Inc is neither
interested in supporting an OSM focused drone initiative even when it
directly asks for support, even verbal, nor does anything to promote the
mapping on its outcomes once the imagery is eventually available, despite
HOT US Inc has been strongly involved in drone imagery for its funded
project in Tanzania. Just because it basically does  not come from its
inner circle.

Regarding the remote mapping, while imagery georeferencing have improved a
lot and that conflicting edits have hugely decreased with the Tasking
Manager, it is a pity to see the bad quality of the produced data due to a
media effective but quality killer approach of encouraging newcomers
without almost any OSM experience to map on the affected areas. And also to
see HOT US Inc worrying less on mitigating this than seeing an other
mapping group doing complementary mapping, informing it on OSM list but not
using both its
Slack tool and the “official” (no joking?) HOT Tasking Manager whose
activity for Hurricane Matthew seems to be led by one single requesting
organization – The Red Cross.

Regarding involving local mappers, it is quite a shame to see that there is
nothing done from HOT US Inc, like if nothing had never happened in the
past, if there was no mapping capacities within the country. In 2010,
people from HOT were inventive in going to the field. It was in the core
DNA of the HOT Project. Now HOT US Inc has decided to stay remote, becoming
just an online Virtual Technical Community like many others, and goes in
the field only when large funds are available. So be it. Consequently, as I
dedicated a lot with Nicolas to build local OSM capacities in Haiti, as we
also do now in Western Africa, I decided to deploy in Haiti on my voluntary
time during three weeks starting yesterday, in order to update the local
skills, connect the mappers and responders and start mapping with them in
the field where it is requested. I will try to inform regularly about it on
this list, as it is the one dedicated to all the humanitarian purposes
related to OSM, not an corporate list for HOT US Inc.


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