[Osmf-talk] Balancing the presence of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team at the OSM Foundation in 2017

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Wed Nov 29 15:46:56 UTC 2017


On 29.11.2017 15:49, nicolas chavent wrote:
> Since 2015, HOT US Inc, is the only organization of the OpenStreetMap
> ecosystem represented at the OSMF Board with two Directors: Kate Chapman
> (co-founder / former Board member / former Executive Director; elected
> at the OSMF Board in 2013) and Mikel Maron (co-founder / former
> President / actual Chairman of the members; elected at the OSMF Board in
> 2015).

The board is acutely aware of this situation, and if you look really
close then at least two further board members have some sort of HOT
connection, namely:

1. myself; my company has in the past done contracting for HOT, and
while this business relationship ended in 2015, at least from the
outside you can never tell what ties remain from such activity, and

2. Ilya (now retiring), who works for a company that has recently
announced a partnership with HOT

There haven't been any board decisions which would directly affect HOT,
and I certainly haven't seen anything in my time on the board where I
thought that HOT was given an unfair advantage.

The board doesn't have a written conflict of interest policy, but all of
us on the board are aware that we do have a duty to handle such
potential conflicts professionally. The UK Companies Act (the law that
governs company governance) also has strict rules about such conflicts.
At the very least, people with a potential conflict of interest would
have to excuse themselves from any voting on the issue.

One of the things we currently have on the table is writing down some
rules about conflicts of interest to make this clearer to everyone
involved - HOT affiliation is only one of many potential areas in which
board members could be affected by a conflict of interest.

> This state of things provides HOT US Inc with more power of influence
> over the Foundation than any other organizations which is without
> precedent in the history of this institution. 

I can see how this might be a concern from the outside but you'll be
hard pressed to find anything in our past work where you could say "ha,
the are favouring HOT here". We've been in loose talks with the HOT
about how to improve communications between them and us - sometimes in
the past, a lack of information flow has led to undesirable results. At
one time, HOT even tried to register a trademark that would directly
conflict with our trademarks - things like that really shouldn't happen
"among friends".

> Consequently, this
> diminishes the representation of the OSM diversity at the Board of the
> Foundation.

Frankly, I *do* think that it is not right that HOT dominates the
"humanitarian OSM" sector - I would love to see and hear more from
groups like Projet EOF, and I find it sad that whenever people think
"humanitarian" and "OSM" it's HOT who seem to have a monopoly there. But
this is not HOT's fault; they're good at doing PR, and doing PR is
certainly necessary for any success in their line of work. In
humanitarian matters, we don't have a diversity problem at the OSM board
level, we have a diversity problem *everywhere*, because EOF and other
groups have such a small profile.

I'm sure the board would be amenable to having better links with other
humanitarian groups. It could even be within OSMF's mandate to support
humanitarian groups that work with OSM. I am not aware of Projet EOF or
anyone else having contacted the OSMF board about anything, nor am I
aware of anyone from that community standing for election in the recent

I think you might have a misconception about the OSMF board, that might
lead to a point where you don't even want to talk to them because you
think they are "HOT dominated" anyway. Please understand that this is
not the case; even those on our current board who have the closest ties
to HOT, have never suggested anything that would give HOT an unfair
advantage. If, say, Projet EOF contacted us about something, they would
be treated exactly the same as HOT.

> With these above risks in minds, given HOT US Inc current influence

As I said, I understand how things can look from the outside, but unless
they managed to cloak it really well, I am truly not aware of any
"current influence" being exerted.

There's one thing that I have noticed: HOT is good at mobilising people.
I believe that comes from the general attitude towards mapping work:
Whereas the average craft mapper simply does whatever they like, the
average HOT mapper waits until they are "activated" and then go to work
at full intensity at whatever task currently needs help. This tends to
translate into a stronger power in democratic processes. If you say
among craftmappers: "Hey, vote for this candidate on the OSMF board" or
"hey, vote for this candidate getting an award", many of them will go
"meh, board", and "meh, award". Do the same among HOT people, and you
will be able to motivate more of them to actually go and vote for
"their" candidate, "their" award. It's like a mini activation! But
again, can you blame them for being enthusiastic about what they do, or
is it perhaps more the fault of the ordinary craft mapper who says "meh"
where the "hottie" says "hey"?

> For those of you who don't know me and to clarify my affiliations, I am
> Nicolas Chavent, co-founder of HOT US Inc in 2010 that I served as its
> Acting Project Manager focusing on its Operations in Haiti and Western
> Africa until 2013 and still member of this organization, I am also the
> co-founder of two French associations Projet Espace OpenStreetMap
> Francophone (Projet EOF) and Les Libres Géographes (LLG).

Nicolas, it is too late this year, but I'd certainly welcome someone
with your background to stand for election to the OSMF board. The
francophone world is much under-represented - not even Paul, our token
Canadian, is from Quebec ;)


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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