Recent diary entries
My journey at OSM / HOT
The Haiti Earthquake in january 2010 let me discover what it was possible to do remotely to support humanitarian actions. I jumped in rapidly and used my various skills to support this first HOT activation. I remember these updates where we saw first Schuyler and Tom Buckley and then Nicolas Chavent and Robert Soden in action, the interviews in the tents, the HOT kits, the workflows built with the UN agencies.
On the steps of these initiators of HOT Activations, I started at the end of 2012 to coordinate a serie of major activations where the core coordinators we supported remotely the international community. With the rebellion in the Kivus, north of the Democratic republic of Congo, hundred of thousands of people were fleeing on the roads. Nicolas who had worked previously for the UN Agencies (WFP and UNJLC/Log-Cluster at inter-agency level) organized the contacts with OCHA and asked Claire to assure the liaison from Kinshasa.
We had the objective to professionalize our activations, to gain confidence of the various international organizations and convince them to collaborate with OSM and HOT, to make OSM the Reference map in the context of disasters.
In parallel of the Congo Activation, I started The Mali activation two months later. Andrew Buck then joined in and Severin started activations for the Central Africa Republic (CAR) and South Sudan. At the same time, Jorieke and other Eurosha volunteers in CAR had to move out rapidly because of the insecurity.
With the Activations, the support of local communities and discussions, collaborations with the Red Cross, MSF, Eurosha, Espace Francophone projects, a place of innovation and experimentation was gradually implemented. We also proposed Design improvements of the Task Manager to adapt it to the context of Activations, offered various Daily exports, looked at using mobile devices for data collect, contributed to software experiments, design, development.
The core coordinators, we volunteered to develop gradually this model of activation that showed such success for the Ebola Outbreak response. We documented the wiki project page for each activation, advertised the OSM maps & products, assured daily updates of various exports, documented the Task Manager Jobs and negotiated for constant adaptations of this tools that is central for supporting these remote activations through internet. Jean-Guilhem Cailton and Fred Moine were also very supportive and reactive about imagery processing.
We assured the remote response mapping, obtaining the imagery from various Imagery providers, coordinating with the international organizations, convincing sometimes the developers to adapt their tools to the particular context of our activations. I bloged and emailed regularly on the activations on the hot website and the mailing list and participated to international conferences making outreach about our activities.
In parallel with the activations, we also worked to innovate in data collection and technical remote support of local communities. We also established contacts with the Red Cross and MSF, discussed about ways to progress. This was later beneficial for the Haiyan/Yolanda Activation in november 2013.
For the Mali Activation in early 2013, we implemented an Imagery Crowdsourcing application to have the capacity to spot villages spread in either flooded or desertic areas and difficult to view. Pierre Giraud adapted the Tasking Manager to import the polygons of the various residential areas. This helped focus around the villages, locate and trace the highways connecting to these villages.
The Haiyan typhoon that hit Tacloban city in november 2013 was very destructive and cut all communications and electricity. Our Red Cross partners were waiting to deploy in Tacloban, not knowing what was the exact situation on the ground. The international community was rapidly mobilized, satellites re-oriented to obtain post-disaster imagery. OSM, Copernicus and UNOSAT did Post-disaster evaluation to facilitate the logistic of the organization.
For that Activation, we coordinated with Maning Sambale (HOT/OSM Philippines) who managed discussions with the local governments about Opendata and interacted with the government and the international agencies and mobilized the OSM-Philippines. We had a very effective coordination with the American Red Cross, the UN agencies and the international organizations.
The first 10 days of the activation were impressive with the OSM developers adapting the Humanitarian style to show damages to structures and adding this style to various tools. This was quite a satisfaction 10 days later for all of us to see the Poster size maps delivered to the OIM at Tacloban airport. This is crisis response, with a lot of adaptation, listening, innovation.
In 2013, participating to a training mission in north of Haiti and to the Espace Francophone LearnOSM translation sprint, was the opportunity to be confronted with the field reality, the cultural context and the technical challenges we are faced in such missions. Very satisfactory experience with great friends. This is the type of experience we should give the opportunity to the more engaged volunteers of our organization, to help them progress and adapt to the reality of the various countries where we operate.
My 2014 HOT Journey
The Ebola outbreak in Guinea spread rapidly in march 2014 and for the first time in urban area and large territories. In the context of epidemics, the contact tracing is a crucial operation. MSF epidemiologists were faced with blank maps. Village names were an other problem with duplicates or variants. Looking at the Haiyan experience, they thought that GIS support and OSM maps would be beneficial to this response. CartONG GIS specialists worked in the field with the epidemiologists and had coordinating with HOT. The first imageries were bought by MSF and the OSM response was simply fantastic, three cities being mapped in one day. Rapidly the Red Cross joined in, HIU, MapBox and Airbus Space & Defense also provided free imagery. Volunteering over all of the last year for this Ebola response, was for me and surely for others both challenging, sad with the spreading of the epidemic, these continuous deaths with this very complex epidemic. But at the same time this was rewarding looking at what we can accomplish in such circumstances, how we can progress to coordinate with other organizations and make the difference. After Haiti, the West Africa Ebola activation is a reference, not only for the more then 15 millions objects edited and the 3,000 contributors from more then 100 countries, but also for the efficient of collaboration we implemented with UN Agencies and international organizations.
People that want to know more about me can read my HOT updates and my conference presentations on SlideShare.
My vision of HOT
This is a year of transition in the HOT organization with the majority of the Board of directors not renewing their term and the executive director announcing this week her departure. Thanks to all for their contribution to this organization.
Many of this year Board Candidates have significant experience and engagement with HOT, either on the Board mounting projects, interfacing with the partners. While we discuss for this election, I am convinced that the previous Board, the Executive director and the Board candidates can sit together and plan a smooth transition, assuring that the essential informations are transferred to the new Board and that we maintain the momentum of HOT.
Now that the nomination period is closed, the HOT membership will continue privately the discussions about orientations of HOT. I hope that this will be done with respect and openness. These annual meetings are also to review our processes, to question and assure that we adapt smoothly, that we assure to stay dynamic, motivated and innovative. Accountability, Openness, Respect are for me essential values in an organization like HOT with a mix of passionate and engaged volunteers, contractors and paid staff from which we benefit expertise. We have to be careful to offer a place of discussion where members can recognize themselves.
To meet once a year to select a Board is not enough. The new Board should look at how the information circulate better, the expertise of the membership is more effective to orient the projects. We should interrogate ourselves how the Working groups or other participation channels can facilitate the HOT operations with more connections between the volunteers, the contractors, the ED and the Board.
With the complexity of projects running, the share of expertise among members, the development of internal capacity in organizations like HOT is an essential factor of success. HOT is an organization with technical people having expertise in various sectors. We interconnect with various UN agencies and international organizations both to develop softwares, projects, collect field data, discuss about building information systems, collecting data from various governments and organizations. Organizations like HOT with both paid staff, contractors and volunteers should not be thought only as a hierarchical structure with the Board, the executive, and the contractors. There are surely confidential matters that should be dealt only by the Board and the ED, but we need to bridge from the various projects. It is essential to assure skill transfers and revise the actual rules of governance. We should take care to have the mechanisms that assure the relay of information from one to the other, and the capacity to revise our projects if necessary and assure a constant progress in this context of innovation and complex organisations sharing work with the the international organizations.
Let me take the example of an activity I was quite involved over the years with HOT. Since the start in 2010, the Activations offered our community the possibility to identify a clear space where we can collaborate with international organizations, innovate and have a significant impact mapping to support their deployment. As one of the core Activation coordinators since 2012, I am proud of the model we developed coordinating with UN Agencies and international organizations. We need to consolidate this action, by adapting the softwares to the needs of the activators and progress with our partners in field data collection. Tools like ODK can favor more exchanges between the humanitarian organizations and OSM. We can say that as volunteers for the OSM Ebola response in 2014, we impacted positively the organization. This opened doors for more collaboration and facilitated access to resources such as the 200,000 USD donation by the Hewlett Foundation, all of these allowing to deepen the impact of remote HOT crisis activations for both Humanitarian and Development actors as well as local communities.
I agree with Jorieke saying that the heart of HOT is this community and that the Board actions should not be isolated from the community and with other candidates that say we should do more community support and preparedness.
I also agree with Severin and Nicolas vision about how to reinforce this member-based organization with a more transparent organization.
We need also to identify clear objectives how the various activities may globally make the difference with common objectives about obtaining OpenData necessary to have more accurate maps. They should be integrated with a vision of which informations are the more crucial in the context of disaster and for economic development in general. Territory management by local authorities or by the international organizations supporting in case of disaster need solid Opendata about infrastructures and administrative limits. Obtaining such Opendata from various governments is often uneasy. But more we develop interelations with OSM local communities, universities, local government, more we will progress to answer these questions. For the Haiyan Typhoon response in november 2013, I saw how useful was the OSM community with Maning Sambale coordinating with the remote coordinators and interfacing locally with the international agencies and local governments.
HOT is an innovative organization that has multitude interactions with other organizations. The Board, the Executive, the contractors and the volunteers all have significant expertise and assure the progress of HOT in interaction with the UN Agencies and international organizations. We should assure a synergy of these various parts of HOT, reinforce the participation of the volunteers and contractors to project design, orientations, discussions with partners, evaluations. This to assure that we progress both with innovative products and projects, this in complex environments in interaction with our various partners.
We need Board directors willing to work with this community in a less hierarchial organization, discuss orientations, the progress of the projects, and assure the development of the organization.
We do not need to change fundamentally the structure of the organization, but to assure more bridges between the Board, the Executive and the membership, be more accountable, more open to discussions. If we can have more possibilities for the engaged members to participate to some field missions, this should also be quite a motivator. These are conditions that should favor the membership participation, more exchanges and assure constant innovations in the organization.
How I can play a role on this Board
I have previous experience as a Board director and managed the major activations since 2012 interacting with various organizations.
My grounding to the various realities of HOT action, my involvement both in action, organization, innovation, development, the support to both the humanitarian organizations and local communities, gives me the capacity to evaluate, orient projects, discuss with partners and the community. My experience in the various sectors of activity of HOT and dealing with partners is an asset for the organization.
In this year of transition, we need experienced people in the field of activities of HOT with a vision of the organization progress, pragmatic, able to sit both with the partners and the community, to continue in the action like we ever did.
HOT is a techy volunteer organization I am proud of and that I want to assure it will progress well.