My HOT and OSM year in 2013

Posted by sev_hotosm on 14 March 2014 in English (English)

I have recently been honored to be elected within the HOT Board, but I had not presented yet my contributions to HOT and OSM during the past year, despite having been deeply involved in HOT and OSM activities all along 2013. My mistake, due to the fact I intensively contributed to a debate of ideas after and during the election, therefore did not find the time to write this feedback. Here it is. Rather than organizing it thematically, I chose to do it chronologically, because I think it reflects better how things slot together.

2013 was actually the second year I dedicated my whole professional time and large part of my free time to HOT and OSM, mixing outreach, training, crisis response and project management. Sometimes exhausting or stressing, but definitely thrilling.

In January I was continuing the management of the EUROSHA Project that had started late September, 2012 with the training and the deployment of the volunteers and a HOT field support of three weeks in each of the four countries (Kenya, Central African Republic, Burundi and Chad). It was then the project mid-term and a necessary review and discussion within the EUROSHA consortium of 9 NGOs for the second phase. Supporting the volunteers teams (whose blog posts can be found there) through emails and Skype calls was also one of my duties, as well as preparing the second field support missions, as planned in the project frame. In the same time, I was discussing with the HIU, as the area around Molo in Kenya, where the volunteers were hosted, was not covered by high resolution Bing imagery. An official request for a delivery through their “Imagery to the Crowd” program has been done and the imagery kindly delivered a bit after. Another EUROSHA related activity was starting a HOT Monitoring in Central African Republic on January 5, as the country had been invaded by the Seleka Rebellion in late December, what made necessary the evacuation of the EUROSHA volunteers deployed there. WIth them, we also set an agreement with UNICEF for an import in OSM of their database about health facilities, schools and drinkable water points over half the country. Otherwise, I also had a global Skype chat with all the French Speaking OCHA GIS/Information Management Officers, that was organized by Andrej Verity, in order to make them know more about OSM and how to use it in the field. In February, after a blog post about EUROSHA in Kenya (see here), back to the field, starting with Burundi for three weeks of field support for the EUROSHA volunteers (their facebook here), for outreach, internal and external training on OSM and QGIS, as related in this other blog post. A camp mapping in partnership with UNHCR in Gasorwe finally occured just after my leaving (see a [video]([ Once again, I had great times with the volunteers, but also the Geography professors from the University of Bujumbura. Late March, the team from Kenya (their Facebook here left the country before the Presidential election and joined Bujumbura with Stéphane, their HOT field support, and we all had interesting meetings and joint work. Early March I directly went to N’Djamena in Chad to support the EUROSHA volunteers during their last weeks of deployment. Outreach and training again (here are some pictures and a video), as well as the results conference at the National Library during the Open-source Softwares Days. Back to Burundi for a couple of days, then back to Europe.

After a few days break, I went to the EU Joint Research Center in Ispra, Italy to talk about OSM and HOT, and other interesting topics, as related in this blog post before going back to home. In April, I have started leading a HOT Activation for Central African Republic (see blog post here as Bangui, the capital city, had just been taken over by the Rebellion. The aims are mapping the most affected cities, getting a consolidated road network and documenting the UNICEF data to be imported, in order to get an authorization from the OSM import list. I hoped the settlements layer from OCHA COD (Common Operational Datasets) could be also imported, but unfortunately, the license status of this data remaining uncertain, so this could not be done. Late April, I went to FOSS4G Buenos Aires followed by SOTM-Ar. I made a presentation of HOT (my first one in Spanish, or rather portuñol) then participated to an OSM workshop/training during the SOTM day. Then I prepared my deployment in Northern Eastern Haiti to join CAP103, the OTI funded project in partnership with Limonade University that had already started for one month and a half, involving a lot of HOT members and contributors (Nicolas, Brian, Jaakko, Pierre, Fred, Yohan and Will), 14 experimented Haitian OSM trainers and 60 new local mappers. These beneficiaries have been be trained to OSM techniques and organized in 6 effective teams to map the area between Cap-Haitien and Fort-Liberté, and along the project, have been supported to create their own local organization with the help of 2 Community Mobilizers (Delphine and Emilie). The project also has been the opportunity to set a thinner HDM preset and a Humanitarian OSM rendering. During two months, my duties encompassed organizing the mapping planning and review, meeting local authorities and involving them in the mapping (especially for the helmet names and remote places), daily reporting, as well as training the young mappers to QGIS (in my average Creole). Was quite exhausting, but really great time with everybody. Once the project was done, I stayed voluntary for extra training and support, a visit to COSMHA-STM (the OSM Organization in Southern Gonaives created last year after the HOT Project in Saint-Marc with OTI) and a few meetings in Port-au-Prince, where, as ususl, I set up home in Haiti Comunitere, a HOT partner for years in the country and a great place to be.

In July, before visiting my family in France, I taught OSM at Federal University in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil before going to Geneva for ECOSOC where I held a HOT booth. Was a good opportunity to meet people from other Virtual Technical Communities that are also part of the Digital Humanitarian Network like SBTF, Translators Without Borders, MapAction or Humanity Road. A few weeks later, I joined SBTF in order to find ways and opportunities for SBTF and HOT to work jointly during Activations. I spent the rest of July and August in France; the HOT project in Mongolia was supposed to start during the summer, but has been postponed. Therefore, apart final reporting on the EUROSHA project, I had Summer holidays and on my free time, I continued working on the UNICEF data to be imported in OSM. Once clear with the Import talk list, I modified the raw data according to OSM tags and Ben Abelshausen designed specific Tasking Manager jobs cutting the dataset with the extent of each tile. I wrote a detailed workflow and started the import. In the same time, along with a few mappers, we improved a lot the road network in the country and had exchanges with MSF Spain deployed in Kabo that mapped the town and its outskirts on OSM. In the meantime, I also applied for a voluntary UNSPIDER Technical Advisory Mission in Malawi in mid-October and I have ben selected. Still in August, large floods affected the Niles in Sudan, especially around Khartoum, and a HOT Activation has been launched (see its Wikipage with interesting exchanges with UNOSAT, HIU, and local relief volunteers. One challenge was to define AOIs (Areas of Interest) and we used this uMap to compile various information (special thanks to Brendan!). The Response of the OSM community has been great and imagery from Charter Activation has been released and made accessible for OSM mapping. Thanks Guilhem, the raw imagery has been georeferenced and hosted and I used the great offset_db JOSM plugin to add reference points based on Bing imagery.

Early September I went to Birmingham by car with people from OSM France to attend SoTM. Opportunity for me to also meet HOT members or contributors I had never met before or for a long time (Haiti 2010 after the Earthquake). Most of us then moved for the HOT House in Clumber Park during one week to discuss about various topics and review documents. Then Kate, Rafael and I went to MapAction base camp during one of their - impressive - exercises to discuss how to interact more with HOT - they were preparing a deployment in Karthoum. During these 2 days, we also discussed with Dale and Robert from American Red Cross regarding the design of an OSM mapping project they wanted to set in Northern Haiti. Back to London for a couple of days, kindly hosted by Harry, before going back to France and prepare the HOT project in Mongolia with Russell. The Mongolia project in Ulaanbaatar lasted 7 weeks between Early October and mid November and was a challenge regarding the language for us (now there is a Google Translate for Mongolian that did not exist in 2013), sometimes chilly but basically great time, with motivated students in Ulaanbaatar, but also under gers in the countryside during two week-ends. In the middle of this mission, that was supposed to happen earlier, I went to Malawi for one week as one of the Technical Advisers for the UNSPIDER mission. Likely the most crazy trip back and forth in my life so far, but also a great experience and the opportunity to advocate for OSM (see here). Once the project ended in Mongolia (see the Facebook group here), I directly joined Nairobi, Kenya, to attend ICCM, the International Conference for Crisis Mappers. Interesting discussions, in and off, like the one with Heather Leson from GISCorps, about working jointly in the future. During the third day, dedicated to Self-organized sessions, I participated to one about crisis in CAR and set one about the initiatives covering more than just Crisis response (Crisis response is not the only step involved in a disaster: preparedness allows to reduce its impacts, and once the emergency time is gone, recovery and reconstruction are also critical. Are there other initiatives than OSM that aim to this large response? How could they work together?). In the afternoon, Heather and I organized a Mapping Party in partnership with Joshua and Benson from HIU and a team from Map Kibera Trust. At least half of the participants had never mapped with OSM and raised many questions about its use in humanitarian contexts. Those who mapped contributed to the Haiyan Response. About this topic, I must admit I did not participate, except for a few edits, because of the huge number of committed people, making my contribution not essential, while it would have forced me to neglect the Activation for Central African Republic, also a United Nations-declared Level 3 humanitarian emergency (the highest one). The day after ICCM ended, I joined the DHN Summit in where all the participants (OCHA, DHN Members, representatives of local organizations) discussed about how to improve the DHN mechanisms and response (see the HackPad here. I left before the end to catch a flight for Senegal to join, as an individual, a sprint organized by the International Organization of Francophonie (= French Speaking Countries) to translate the Intermediate and Advanced Chapters of LearnOSM from English into French. It was the opportunity to work again with Nicolas and Pierre after the time passed together in Haiti, with former EUROSHA volunteers and to meet for the first time mappers from Senegal, Burkina Faso and Togo who have been mostly commiting in OSM since the Senegal project and the EOF projet. The Sprint week was intense but fruitful. Once done, many of us remained voluntarily a couple of weeks more, in order to provide mutual training on various OSM techniques, and organize training to students in Dakar and Saint-Louis. On December 19, I went back to Europe to join my family for Christmas greetings. Unfortunately, a political crisis arose in South Sudan and led to a HOT Monitoring. A new opportunity to work with HIU, but also GISCorps (whose one team mapped the city of Malakal) and start using uMap systematically to quickly show the mapping response over the country. An improved version for Central African Republic would follow soon after. But this is already 2014.

PS: if anyone quoted would like not to be or differently (eg with the link of his OSM profile or any other profile), please tell me. Likewise, if I forgot someone I should have quoted or a topic I should have talked about, please tell me too.

Comment from sev_hotosm on 14 March 2014 at 14:41

Sorry sorry, corrected :\

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