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

Ben Abelshausen ben.abelshausen at gmail.com
Wed Nov 29 16:18:09 UTC 2017

Personally I think there are more important issues but if we want to focus
on this again I propose to:

- get more regular mappers on board as OSMF members (already ongoing).
- a better way of handling conflicts of interest and a clear policy on how
to do this.
- try to get more people to run for board positions to make sure we have
enough options and have the membership decide

I also think this issue is just a symptom of HOT's success (an issue I'm
personally happy we're having). Let's hope other projects within the OSM
community can match this success, that would also help in fixing this.


Met vriendelijke groeten,
Best regards,

Ben Abelshausen

On Wed, Nov 29, 2017 at 4:07 PM, john whelan <jwhelan0112 at gmail.com> wrote:

> I suspect its more of a perception thing.  There is a concern on the PR
> side and that is "Spin Doctors" have been widely used in the political area
> and the whole PR area gets tainted.
> HOT does some very good work but there are numerous instances of less than
> ideal mapping with a HOT project code attached.  I'd rather the problem was
> addressed than saying something like "but the validators can fix this and
> that's OK because that is best practice" which to me is a PR type response
> rather than addressing the issues.
> Cheerio John
> On 29 November 2017 at 10:46, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:
>> Nicolas,
>> 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
>> (https://medium.com/@Dimitryophoto/maps-me-and-humanitarian-
>> openstreetmap-team-partner-to-crowdsource-data-for-humanitarian-response-
>> 13a5057b94e6).
>> 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
>> past.
>> 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 ;)
>> Bye
>> Frederik
>> --
>> Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
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