Ben Abelshausen's Diary

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This diary post is to inform HOT voting members that don’t know me or want to know more about why I’m running for the HOT board.

Coming from an OSM background (and not a humanitarian one) I believe HOT should keep focus on it’s community. Having a healthy diverse community ensures HOT stays closer to a grassroots organization. A community enforces an organization in ways we don’t appreciate enough sometimes.

As a first step to make this happen we need to better define what being a HOT voting member means. For me this means I have 2 main tasks:
- The governance of HOT, voting and checking up on the board and staff. The public board meetings have improved a lot here already and more information about what HOT staff is doing can help improve this even further.
- Setting the direction for HOT for the future. What should HOT focus on? I think that should come from the membership. Initiatives like the strategy work group are something I support.

I’ve always assumed being a member is about these two things. For anything else there is no need to be a member. I think we need to distinguish between the HOT membership, that is meant to govern HOT together with the board, and the wider community. You don’t need to be a HOT voting member to be a valued part of the HOT community. Perhaps we can do with less, but more active members, more focused on their task, and a wider and more open & active community around that.

Related to that I think it’s very important for HOT to keep supporting and fostering local OSM communities everywhere. Some of what is happening now are things we have been dreaming about for years and have now become reality. Think about State of the Map Africa and the vibrant local communities popping up. When meeting OSM/HOT community members from all over the world it’s obvious that a little support can go a long way to at least kickstart or boost involvement in OSM. We can do even more and as a HOT board member I would like to help make this a priority in the direction HOT should take.

The advisory board is a good idea and I support this. I can help in finding volunteers to be part of it via my previous experiences and connections. It’s excellent as a means to get skills we don’t have in our membership/community.

I also believe things can be improved in relation to the formal status of members vs staff vs board members. We should discuss if it should be possible to be employed by HOT and be a board/voting member at the same time for example. We can learn from membership models from other organizations with operational staff & a membership.

On a more personal level I realize that I have a lot to learn about being a HOT board member and that I don’t know everything. If elected I’m committed to keep an open mind on all issues and adjust my views to new information.

Providing feedback to OSM

Posted by Ben Abelshausen on 17 November 2010 in English (English).

At the company that I work for at the moment I'm involved in a project to use OpenStreetMap (OSM) data for implementing mapping and routing services.

Up to this point we implemented several useful OMS-tools in a C# library. C# is the language and .NET is the framework used at this company.

But yesterday, for the fist time, we got some first feedback from the users in the field to update the actual maps. To optimize delivery rounds users sometimes go into the field to write down the housenumbers for entire streets. The way addresses can be located in the system can be optimized. This is an excellent way to provide feedback of useful information to OSM and in a way contribute back to the project and the data we are using. They also take a GPS-tracing device (GT-31) so adding the streets they visited can also be done.

About the licence; I have a signed consent form stating that changes can be made to OSM based on the information gathered by the employees here!

Location: Patershol, Ghent, Gent, East Flanders, Flanders, 9000, Belgium