[Osmf-talk] Humanitarian work (was: 2018 a third episode...)

Pete Masters pedrito1414 at googlemail.com
Wed Dec 19 15:54:15 UTC 2018

Hi all, I'd like to add a perspective here. As well as the longer history
of OSM and humanitarian work, there is also a more recent history. Things
have changed significantly since the days when volunteer geographical
information was new and disruptive in the humanitarian world and, from the
perspective of a humanitarian organisation, that change has been
overwhelmingly positive.

The amount of support volunteers have provided in humanitarian crises (as
well as to development and resilience projects) over the last few years has
been remarkable. I work for MSF and on a daily basis I am reminded of how
much of an impact OSM has had, whether it is through HOT (the community and
the NGO), the Missing Maps project, related open source software projects
or local OSM communities, the evidence of positive impact on life-saving
humanitarian work is all around me. And, please don't get me wrong... I am
not suggesting that maps are directly saving patients' lives in MSF
projects (we have nurses and doctors that do that). However, every time we
can use better maps to inform our epidemiological analysis, to improve our
resource allocation and decision making, to identify accessible community
vaccination points, to do thorough assessment of access to water, to plan
supply and logistics, it is improving our service to patients and

OSM is no longer perceived by humanitarian actors as an outlier or a
disrupter- it's a part of the way we work with data - and that change has
happened in the past 4(ish) years.

The formative years of HOT (of which I was not a part) paved the way to
this change and I take my hat off to all of those involved. And I love
being a part of a community that has such radical and visionary roots.
However, the systematic way in which OSM data is now used to improve the
way humanitarian response is done has required change (as referenced by
Mikel and Nico). HOT, as an NGO, has had to change. And, yes, it has come
to resemble more and more an NGO with a hierarchy, funding needs, a
workforce and projects (and, yes, a legal name).

What I think has been missed out of the conversations of the last two to
three weeks is two things...

Firstly, the good work that HOT does and has done, both as an NGO and as a
community and as a partner organisation. If you have no idea what I am
talking about, please go and have a look... Is it perfect? No. Is there
friction and are there problems? Yes. But then, welcome to the world of
humanitarian work.

Secondly, HOT is still committed to OpenStreetMap, to open data in general
and to developing open source tools. That has not changed.

As a HOT volunteer and someone who has championed OSM within MSF, the
conversations on these lists have left me feeling shocked, unappreciated
and disappointed. And I know other volunteers who feel the same. I wish I
could share with all the naysayers on this list how it feels when a
logistician in DR Congo sends an SMS thanking volunteers because they made
his 20-hour days 10% easier or when an epidemiologist remarks that she is
now able to do proper spatial analysis of a cholera outbreak, or when a
project coordinator tells you how pleased she was that all the health
centres she needed to supply during an outbreak were already in her OSMAnd

I'll tell you one thing... It makes you proud of being a part of HOT and
proud of being a part of OSM.

Apologies for the long email. Just want to make sure that, while we respect
the importance of the history of HOT and OSM in these discussions, the
present and more recent past is represented.



On Wed, Dec 19, 2018 at 8:18 AM nicolas chavent <nicolas.chavent at gmail.com>

> Hi all,
> Thanks Mikel for contributing those elements in response to questions
> raised in this email thread by Simon and others about how things
> happened on the OSMF side at the event of the beginnings of the HOT
> Project as an informal OSM collective and its incorporation as a US
> Ngo in August 2010 after collective discussions amongst mappers in
> Girona at the SoTM 2010 Girona to continue the OSM field work started
> in Haiti March 2010 after the January 2010 Earthquake.
> I have nothing to add on the OSMF side since as a Board member of the
> foundation you were managing that relation while I was focusing on
> supporting the OSM on the ground work in Haiti by all actors
> (community and formal actors of the whole humanitarian system by then)
> from afar or through field missions carried with other persons of the
> HOT Project collective, Robert Soden, Dane Springmeyer and Kate
> Chapman.
> It's important in this collective read and look at the past, to fully
> grasp the historical context within which this use of OSM across the
> humanitarian/development sectors unfold which is fundamentally three
> fold:
> - the irruption of OSM as a base layer in GIS information management
> for crisis response and recovery in the major emergency that was the
> 2010 Haiti quake first from afar (remote response) and then on the
> ground (mission, OSM mappers embedded into IOM GIS Units... ) was a
> revolution for the humanitarian system. The overall context for
> GIS/Cartography crisis work is a radical change of paradigm for that
> industry. And nothing was easy for anyone active in that system in
> terms of understanding this revolution, planing and operating under
> that new paradigm that was Volunteer Geographical Information (VGI)
> actors at large and OSM in particular. This was true also for the
> early believers of that paradigm in the humanitarian system, myself
> included (World Food Program, UN Joint Logistics Cluster/Logistics
> Cluster).
> - one shall recall the strengths of OSMF at that time and the workload
> for its Board of volunteers directors, the transparency and archiving
> capacities at that time and the fact that none of them was cognizant
> of the humanitarian/development work.
> - In that context 1,2 years was an eternity and what Mikel laid out ",
> never think I saw ahead more than a year or two." was the mindset of
> all individuals within that HOT Project collective, the newly
> incorporated US NGO HOT US Inc and all actors of the humanitarian
> system at that time.
> Hopefully, we will manage to bring forth even more pieces of archive,
> and we will better understand the story of these relations between
> OSMF and HOT project/HOT US Inc, this is surely a collective work item
> for this future humanitarian/development working group.
> For the sake of clarity and of archiving, we may consider also another
> area, vehicle to organize the contents that arose from that email
> discussion than solely this mailing list, since we contributed
> interesting materials so far to lay the ground for an informal/formal
> WG to start an interesting collective work.
> Excellent day,
> Nicolas
> On Wed, Dec 19, 2018 at 3:08 AM Mikel Maron <mikel.maron at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > > Just for fun: there was an action item on the 2010-2011 board minutes
> > > dependent on "HOT integration" for many months. But as already said,
> the
> > > minutes from the time are very sketchy and it is for the major part
> very
> > > unclear who decided what and what the intended relationship with HOT
> was.
> >
> > Sometime soon, I want to spend some time looking back on the
> organizational development of HOT. From when I started with the concept in
> 2005, until today, never think I saw ahead more than a year or two. I never
> set out to start an organization -- I am happy where things ended up but
> also have many thoughts on what else could have been and can be.
> >
> > But quickly, I was curious to refresh my memory. In 2010, I was on the
> OSMF Board. We had just had the Haiti earthquake and HOT was finally real.
> And I was living in Kenya getting Map Kibera started.
> >
> > There are three distinct items in the Board minutes. From what I can
> recall at the time, I wanted to know if OSMF could be the organizational
> backbone for HOT activities, and even Map Kibera. I was regularly reporting
> to the Board on what was happening with these efforts. I thought providing
> support for this kinds of projects could be a great way for OSMF to grow.
> To work in Haiti or Kenya, and do these intensive projects, took funding,
> procurement, insurance, pay. To be honest, I had little direct experience
> myself at that point to know what it took to operationalize this kind of
> idea.
> >
> > From what I recall, the reception from the Board was interested and very
> supportive of all the exciting things happening in OSM at that moment ...
> but pretty cautious. Actually doing mapping would be an expansion of OSMF
> mandate. Also remember, we were pretty consumed with the license change
> during this period. We had no administrative staff. More critically, the
> question of whether this would create an employment situation, and the
> question of liability, were top of mind -- as they should have been.
> >
> > Looks like the topic to investigate was originally with Andy, then moved
> to me at some point. I found few concrete answers that would give us
> direction. I think the idea fizzled out, as there wasn't little enthusiasm
> for OSMF to take this on.
> >
> >
> https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/w/images/8/8c/Osmf_board_minutes_20100422.pdf
> >
> https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/w/images/4/48/Osmf_board_minutes_20100527.pdf
> >
> https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/w/images/5/5d/Osmf_board_minutes_20101002.pdf
> >
> > -Mikel
> >
> > * Mikel Maron * +14152835207 @mikel s:mikelmaron
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> > osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
> > https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/osmf-talk
> --
> Nicolas Chavent
> Les Libres GĂ©ographes
> Projet OpenStreetMap (OSM)
> Projet Espace OSM Francophone (EOF)
> Projet GeOrchestra
> Mobile (FR): +33 (0)6 52 40 78 20
> Mobile (Haiti): +509 40 19 46 02
> Email: nicolas.chavent at gmail.com
> Email: nicolas.chavent at leslibresgeographes.org
> Skype: c_nicolas
> Twitter: nicolas_chavent
> _______________________________________________
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*Pete Masters*

*@pedrito1414* <https://twitter.com/TheMissingMaps>
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