I hope you and your family are safe, healthy, and happy in this challenging time. I have been meaning to write this post since I became the Regional Director for the Asia Pacific Hub early this year. However, I decided to wait until I had something specific and useful to share with you all. Recently, we have made a few important decisions that I am thrilled to share with you through this post.
First, we have decided to name the Regional Hub as ‘Open Mapping Hub- Asia Pacific’.The ‘Open Mapping Hub’ name will also apply to the hubs in three other regions. I believe that this decision is profound and far-reaching. Although HOT is supporting the establishment and operation of the hub, we did not want to narrowly name it something as ‘HOT Asia Pacific Hub’. We want to ensure that the hub creates an accommodating and equitable space for everyone interested in contributing to the OSM movement in the region. We want the hub to be as inclusive as possible.
Those who attended Tyler’s talk at the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Summit in December 2020 should not be surprised by this decision. In his talk, Tyler committed to shifting HOT’s focus from HOT to the wider OSM local communities. The name ‘Open Mapping Hub’ intends to encapsulate this very spirit. We are extremely excited to start our journey with this new name, and I would like to thank everyone who participated in the naming discussion.
The next decision you might find interesting is that the Asia Pacific Hub will operate as a virtual and mobile hub. Originally, the hub was going to be physically located in Manila, the Philippines. As we started to contemplate more about it, fixing the hub at one physical location seemed limiting to us. It is particularly because the hub intends to work with OSM communities distributed across many countries throughout huge geography in Asia-Pacific, and we want to make sure we are accessible to all these communities equitably whenever they need us. We will still have a small operational team based in Manila. Additionally, we will also leverage a strong knowledge base from our partners in various countries such as Perkumpulan OpenStreetMap Indonesia (POI) in Indonesia and Kathmandu Living Lab (KLL) in Nepal.
The notion of a ‘mobile hub’ opens up several interesting possibilities. The mobile hub would be similar to a mobile phone when compared to a landline phone. The mobile hub can go to local communities, work with them more closely, and enable us to understand the local context much better than the fixed hub. We are extremely excited about this, and we hope this decision will allow us to directly connect with diverse communities across the Asia Pacific and support their work. We also hope that the direction of the mobile hub will enhance shared ownership of the hub among countries and communities.
Finally, the 7-member hub team, although at an induction stage, is working with great zeal to operationalize the concept of the ‘mobile hub’. We are planning to experiment with it from the next quarter beginning August 2021, with the hope that the COVID situation will get better by then. In any case, the hub is here to identify, recognize, nurture and collaborate with individuals, self-organizing groups, and institutions for advancing the OSM movement in the region. The hub is eager to support and amplify your work. Currently, we are working on launching various community support activities such as grant fundings, training, and regional knowledge sharing, which I cannot wait to share with you all in my upcoming posts. There is a lot we need to achieve together as a community, and we will keep you updated as we move forward in this journey. Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter pages for more updates.
In the meantime, your suggestions are welcome.