OpenStreetMap

The NGO HOT US Inc organizes an election to replace one of its directors for a 6 months term.

Details of the election read on a wiki page

Below reads my electoral platform.

Summary

My OpenStreetMap journey is two fold. First, I co-founded the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) concept in 2008, I co-founded of HOT US inc in 2010, I served the org as a Board member (2010-2014) and as its de facto Operations Manager for Haiti and Sub-Saharan Africa (2010-2013). Second, I co-founded the French associations Projet Espace OSM Francophone (ProjetEOF) and Les Libres Géographes (LLG) which supported technically and organizationally at grassroot level the growth of autonomous OSM collectives in Haiti and French-speaking Africa from 2014 to date. I developed a span of skills and experiences fit to serve 6 months at the HOT US Inc Board and help the organization in its willingness to reflect, change, localize, decentralize and implement its activities in a way more respectful of the OSM way and especially OSMF policies, jurisprudence and practices. Through the inner human, technical and organizational knowledge I had built over time in these Francophone countries whose language is, by the way, not currently represented at the Board, I think I can help the organization through its willingness to change described by Tyler by serving at its Board for the next 6 months.

Detailed version

Given the tight timeline for this election, this diary nots is work in progress and likely to be expanded at a later stage.

I’d like first to welcome the path set forth by Tyler Redford in his OSM diary note titled “The past, present, and future of HOT” [1]. As HOT US Inc’s Executive Director (ED), he speaks in the name of the organization, its Board, its staffs and its fellow members on 4-Dec 2020 and one can sense here a willingness to reflect, change, localize, decentralize and implement activities with more respect of the OSM way (especially OSMF policies, jurisprudence and practices), the culture of the Open, Free Software and Open Data movements.

I want to state that in so doing, I have no conflict of interest (CoI) with HOT US Inc and the other organizations I co-founded since then and in which I am currently engaged. I have been working as a freelancer for many organizations including the French association Les Libres Géographes (LLg) that I co-founded and of which I am not a Board member. Whilst not holding a formal continued work contract with LLg, I checked with my LLg friends and Colleagues/Board members that serving a 6 months term at the HOT US Inc Board would be compatible with my engagement in LLg. I did what other hotties did prior to me in such occasions (Dale Kunce at the American Red Cross [ARC] or Jorieke Vyncke and Pete Masters at Medecins Sans Frontières [MSF]). Shall a CoI situation apply, I’ll comply to the HOT US Inc CoI handling policy like other former Directors who were staffs of other organizations or freelancers working in this domain. Furthermore, my engagement within the French association Projet Espace OSM Francophone (Projet EOF) does not constitute a CoI neither. The association carries out its activities (which mostly revolve around local OSM animation) via the voluntary contribution of its members while its Bylaws exclude paid work (in French “prestation de service”) from its resources.

I am un humble guy, it’s not in my nature to put forth my facts and achievements. Yet I believe I have to do so at the occasion of this Board election since I am unknown to some of the new Voting members of the Organization. I grew up in Senegal as an adolescent, had some study times there and my first work experience in the academic research. Since 2010 through my years in HOT US Inc and the Projet EOF/LLg, it had not been a year (2020 excepted because of the SARS-COV-2) in which I had lived and worked supporting the growth of the OSM project at grassroot community level less than 1/3 of the year in Haiti or mostly Western Afica (plus Chad, Congo and Madagascar). I feel privileged for these regular and intense contacts with territories and people who are a part of me. I am grateful that I had the opportunity and the happiness to have been in person over years with most of those, women and men, young and less young who are making OSM an autonomous local reality in these countries. I did my best, not without individual or collective failure, to support technically and organizational people interested or active in OSM in building up their technical, community, organizational skills so that they can gather, if they want to, and build OSM collectives they gradually incorporated in the national law of their country with the possibility of evolving towards local groups and eventually (if they want to) OSMF local chapters. Some of the hundreds I met and that I accompanied as well as I was accompanied by them in this journey are now members of this Organization, are active in their country under their OSM association, some are freelance, other engaged in work collectives of different natures, others do and make OSM as a passion. Together they form an autonomous solid community layer who can benefit more from HOT US Inc shall the change advocated by Tyler in his statement materializes. I’d like to act as a connector between these folks, their organizations, these territories and our organization as well as the OSM Foundation Local Chapter Community Working Group to which I applied after the last 2020 OSMF Board election.

I believe I can significatively help our organization in this not only through my knowledge of the OSM people in these territories and the local OSM dynamics at work there but also through the my 20+ years of experience in Geography and Geomatics within various ecosystems (academic, humanitarian, development, civic tech and activism) at global and local scale in France, Haiti and Sub-Saharan Africa. I had been working/cooperating for years with Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and its dense network of researchers and partners in countries of the “global south”. I had been working 6 years as GIS specialist at the HQ of the UN World Food Program (the largest world humanitarian organization) in charge of the last two years of the building the UN Spatial Data Infrastructure for Transport (UNSDIT) under which the UN Logistics Cluster operate nowadays using OSM as its baseline layers and serving it both on its WFP (Geonode) SDI as well as through the #HDX #Humdata platform ; one of the creator of the HDX concept, Cj Hendrix being my closed friend and colleague in the UN by then and still is. From my times with OSM under HOT US Inc and LLg, I conceived and implemented a large span of programs which differed by natures, donors, partners. Programs can feature mapping, training, documentation, mentoring, outreach, organizational support to local entrepreneurship as well as community, OSMF type of associations, OSMF governance, software development…. These activities can be conducted through 100% voluntary or fully funded projects. They can vary in sizes. They can be below 5 to 15k USD. They can be over 100k USD (all costs included for roughly 4 months of operational life) spanning 200k USD [Haiti St-Marc COSHMA/HOT US Inc/USAID-OTI] to 400k USD [Haiti North/NorthEast departments HOT US Inc/USAID-OTI]. The array of partners is large: World Bank (GFDRR/ICT), UN (IOM), USAID, EU ECHO, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), IRD, Gret, Agence Française de développement, various French universities to name some of the main entities. The number of projects all successfully conceived, implemented and accounted over the decade is important (+60). All of these project work featured a specific community support component I think fundamental for HOT US Inc in this new phase of its history. This had been true and constant since my first Haitian field mission in March 2010. It varies in its dimension and budget depending on project but had been constant. On top of OSM, GIS, and SDI mapping methodologies, techniques, tools, documentation, hardware materials passed to communities there had always been an organizational support component. This organizational component consisting of documents, training, mentoring was mainly two-fold. It aimed at providing an understanding of the OSM ecosystem and the OSMF sets of policy documents and practices which regulate the interactions of the various parts and actors of the OSM ecosystem in the community level, within the OSMF, OSMF Local Chapters, OSMF OSM local groups, within the business area. This was meant to inform local mappers about guidelines for organizing themselves the OSM way within a perspective aimed at dialoguing with the OSMF and other OSM entities so that the overall OSMF policies and practicies can encompass the new OSM ways in the making in the South. The second axis of this organizational support component was tailored to help local mappers in providing paid services (around their skills and the skills they gained through any project) as freelancers or as a part of a work collectives of all sorts (associations, small or large firms) or as employees of the formal public or private sector. There’s still a lot to be fixed and to be bettered in all of these actions and programs, but I believe that the span of experiences in an area and a language which is not directly represented at the Board of HOT US Inc right now, would be of help for the organization in its current moment.

… To be continued once I’ll be done with the 4 hours drive back home…

Comment from pedrito1414 on 21 January 2021 at 12:45

Hi Nico, thanks for the statement. Could you provide information on the nature of your engagement with LLG and ProjectEOF? Specifically, are you an employee? A contractor? Are you renumerated? Do you work on funding proposals or in a paid capacity on funded projects in the same areas as HOT works?

I am interested because MSF actually advised Jorieke and I that it was a conflict of interest to be on the HOT board whilst working in a paid capacity for MSF on openstreetmap-related activities in the same regions as HOT (including partners and community collaborators). This is why Jorieke stepped down from the board when she started working for MSF and why I didn’t run for the board until I was working in an unrelated position (medical innovation).

Lastly, could you provide links to what LLG is / what it does? I am struggling to find any information on it as an organisation… (I have found info on ProjectEOF at https://projeteof.org/blog/projet-eof/)

Comment from Nicolas Chavent on 21 January 2021 at 21:04

’‘
‘‘Nicolas’s reply on Pete’s CoI question from his oral answer at the Members special meeting:’’ ‘‘
On CoI at large: ‘‘
I think that the first paragraph of my candidate statement answers the questions related to the French Association Projet EOF (which does not operate through paid work and relies mainly on the voluntary contribution of its members ; low level of activity in recent years) as well as my working relationship (various paid work as a freelancer ; not a Board members position); the above-mentioned paragraph reads right below, specific questions are answered further below ‘‘
“I want to state that in so doing, I have no conflict of interest (CoI) with HOT US Inc and the other organizations I co-founded since then and in which I am currently engaged. I have been working as a freelancer for many organizations including the French association Les Libres Géographes (LLg) that I co-founded and of which I am not a Board member. Whilst not holding a formal continued work contract with LLg, I checked with my LLg friends and Colleagues/Board members that serving a 6 months term at the HOT US Inc Board would be compatible with my engagement in LLg. I did what other hotties did prior to me in such occasions (Dale Kunce at the American Red Cross [ARC] or Jorieke Vyncke and Pete Masters at Medecins Sans Frontières [MSF]). Shall a CoI situation apply, I’ll comply to the HOT US Inc CoI handling policy like other former Directors who were staffs of other organizations or freelancers working in this domain. Furthermore, my engagement within the French association Projet Espace OSM Francophone (Projet EOF) does not constitute a CoI neither. The association carries out its activities (which mostly revolve around local OSM animation) via the voluntary contribution of its members while its Bylaws exclude paid work (in French “prestation de service”) from its resources.” ‘‘
‘‘
On MSF specific CoI handling policy: ‘‘
I think it’s important to distinguish the hic et nunc, this election and the mid/long term. In this run-up, I based my CoI situation analysis on HOT US Inc specific policy and practices. On the long-run, HOT US Inc shall act to learn from MSF whose high moral standards are of a unique value in the humanitarian action and aid development worlds. MSF’s policy might be reviewed and analyzed by our Governance Working Group. We might seek lawyer’s assistance (via paid or pro bono services). We might also reach out and consult OSMF LWG to get feedback and have them equally learn and think through MSF policy and practices. This Governance WG work shall be opened to any Voting member interested in the matter. Ideally and eventually, these efforts will result into a report and recommendations as per changing or not HOT US Inc CoI policy. This shall be shared with the membership as part of a consultation featuring discussions over email/Slack and BigBlueButton as well as anonymous survey. Shall the outcome resulted into a changed CoI policy banning my presence at the Board, I’d have no other choice than being compliant with our policy and resign. ‘‘
‘‘
On the web presence of the French association #LesLibresGeographes (LLg): ‘‘
LLg had been operating through direct contacts with funders and partners relying on the quality work it had been providing in OSM, Open Data and Free Geomatics across the Francophone area (mainly France, Haiti and Sub-Saharan Africa). ‘‘


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