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

martin at noblecourt.eu martin at noblecourt.eu
Wed Nov 29 17:04:48 UTC 2017

Dear all,

My perspective on this question is that, as Ben mentioned, HOT is the 
only organization really succeeding at developing and growing a 
volunteer-based structure within the OSM ecosystem.
In comparison, most local chapters or other structures have chosen a 
lighter model with no or reduced staffing and little organized 
activities. In the case of the French chapter at least, it is a choice 
on purpose to maintain a light structure.
Even a structure like CartONG that can seem quite similar than HOT on 
many aspects, have way less OSM-related activities than HOT (it's less 
than 10% of what our organization do in general).

HOT is also, to my knowledge, the only structure within the OSM 
ecosystem actively inciting its members to join OSMF.

This naturally leads to a situation where HOT attracts many new 
volunteers, pushes them to join OSMF (cf. Frederik's message), which 
eventually leads to some of them getting interested in the overall 
governance of OSM, and applying to the board.

I think the underlying question here, which is connected to the problems 
of representativeness I already evoked on my previous message, is: *how 
can we make the OSMF membership more representative of the overall OSM 

My suggestion would be to leave much more space to the local chapters. I 
know OSM France as a chapter (with elected representative etc. pp.) has 
its own vision of what OSM should be, however I've never seen expressed 
it here (I wouldn't be in a capacity to really do it, since I'm not a 
OSM Fr board member or appointed to do so). I'm not even sure if someone 
from the OSM Fr board is registered to this list and/or have time to 
follow it currently :-)

Currently we face:
1) a lack of officially recognized chapter 
(https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Local_Chapters => US, Germany 
amongst the big contributors are missing, there's actually no chapter 
outside Europe!)
2) a lack of information and interest from OSM chapters (recognized or 
not) on OSMF's activities
3) a lack of official representation of the formal and informal chapters 
within OSMF governance

These 3 challenges could be match by 3 actions points :
1.a) supporting the growth and structuration of local OSM chapters. 
Several actors working in the development sector are already doing it 
here and there (HOT, CartONG, EOF, etc.) however there is no concerted 
effort, and it concerns only a few countries
1.b) Reaching and supporting existing informal chapters (some of them 
are already incorporated in fact) to have them approved by OSMF
2) Informing the overall ecosystem on OSMF's foundation beyond the 
membership itself. For instance I think I have never seen a message from 
OSMF on a national mailing list. There are huge progresses to be made 
here, and staff time could be valuable for that (cf. the other 
3) Changing the board's governance to officially have a representation 
of local chapters (potentially reserved seats eventually, maybe only 
advisory positions to start with?)

I think these actions points would improve drastically the 
representativeness of OSMF and its board, and incidentally solve the 
question of HOT's prevailing influence, as well as reduce the questions 
on conflicts of interests (board members being mandated by chapters 
would necessarily speak on behalf of their chapter more than other 
private attachments).
I haven't checked in detail each of the candidates' position on this 
matter, however I don't think it was really tackled, so I'd be 
interested to see their take on that.

Thanks for reading me and sorry for the long message!



On 29/11/2017 17:18, Ben Abelshausen wrote:
> 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.
> Cheers,Ben
> 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
>>> [1]).
>>> 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"
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> osmf-talk mailing list
>>> osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
>>> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/osmf-talk [2]
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> Links:
> ------
> [1]
> https://medium.com/@Dimitryophoto/maps-me-and-humanitarian-openstreetmap-team-partner-to-crowdsource-data-for-humanitarian-response-13a5057b94e6
> [2] https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/osmf-talk
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