Recent diary entries
Dear HOT and OSM community,
I joined the HOT Board of Directors a couple of weeks ago and am now holding the position of the Board Secretary. As I am now also representing HOT and the HOT community, I put together this diary entry to explain my further professional relations and responsibilities.
Disaster Mapping and Management Department @ HeiGIT (GIScience Research Group Heidelberg University)
I am a Master student at the Geographical Institute of Heidelberg University and research assistant at the Disaster Mapping and Management department of the Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology. The objective of our department is to support humanitarian and disaster management organizations and volunteer communities through current technology, innovative methodologies and research, as well as through awareness building in our international research community. Therefore, the formal collaboration of the GIScience Research Group and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team includes collaborative work on tools and services, workflows, research, in teaching, and proposals, to support the objectives of the international Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team community.
I am hereby not involved in any financial matters, my role is to rather build a bridge between the OSM/ HOT community, our department, and the GIScience research community in general. Apart from my work in the department, I also supported the NSF Eager Project on Crowdsourced Damage Assessment that was launched by HOT, Stanford Urban Resilience Initiative, GFDRR, and University of Boulder which I joined in a consultancy position for GIScience (Heidelberg University).
Missing Maps partnership with disastermappers heidelberg/ GIScience Research Group
Apart from being a student and research assistant at the GIScience Research Group, I am one of the founding members of the disastermappers heidelberg initiative. disastermappers as well as the GIScience Research Group have been supporting Missing Maps since the launch in 2014 and also became a formal partner of the project.
disastermappers/GIScience Research Group involvement in the project includes research, the development of applications and workflows as well as related teaching, the organization of mapathons and workshops, and joint proposals. I am hereby again not involved in any financial matters and abstain related discussions involving HOT and the GIScience Research Group, thereby following the conflict of interest guidelines of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and our department.
Dear HOT members,
I have accepted the kind nomination by Martin and Blake, as I would love to join the HOT Board to put my knowledge, skills, network and passion to use for the strategic planning for the future of HOT, and to support the community as a researcher, geographer, disastermapper as well as networker.
HOT has come a long way since the Haiti earthquakes. We have a growing number of HOT members and volunteers that are active in mapping, working groups and in building and directing our community. Thanks to this growing community we also have increasing OSM data coverage in vulnerable and disaster affected countries, as well as more and more advanced tools to facilitate the data collection and validation. Therefore, HOT became an increasingly globally distributed and acknowledged community, with a growing number of local chapters that has proven its potential, effectiveness and value in numerous disaster responses, as well as long-term community mapping and Missing Maps projects.
There are however also open questions, e.g.:
- How well do we know our community, and what are their needs?
- What is the impact of our work? How can we better identify and meet the needs of potential data users?
- How can we detect deficiencies in the OSM data, improve validation and data maintenance processes, and assure a certain level of data quality?
- How can we better support and encourage local mapping communities, and link remote and local mappers?
As the work of HOT members like Nama Budhathoki, Robert Soden and Martin Dittus and partnerships between the disastermappers heidelberg/ GIScience Research Group of Heidelberg University and Missing Maps have shown, collaborations between researchers and our mapping community can help to address these questions and challenges. Over the last couple of years, I have learned a lot about the importance of HOT and OSM for vulnerable and disaster prone countries and decision makers through my work with Kathmandu Living Labs, HOT and Missing Maps, my projects in Heidelberg and by conducting and presenting research about OSM, HOT and disaster mapping to an international audience. I shared my experiences by teaching students in Heidelberg and beyond about the work of the HOT community and organizing open Mapathons and workshops with the disastermappers heidelberg initiative in the scope of my studies as well as in the scope of my work at the GIScience Research Group. Working at the disaster management and disastermapping department, I am now positioned at the intersection of research, application development, OSM interested data consumers and the HOT and OSM community. I would love to put this position, my network, my knowledge and research skills to use in the HOT Board and build a bridge between researchers, developers, the data consumers and the HOT and OSM community to address our questions and challenges within and with the community and raise more awareness in the international world of academia and disaster management about the potentials of HOT and OSM and the amazing things a volunteer community can achieve.