I first got involved with Humanitarian Openstreetmap in February 2014 when Mount Kelud erupted in Indonesia and I saw the power of concentrated crowd sourcing in action. It was impressive. I also realised that it was the ideal way to contribute to Humanitarian disasters and crisis because the time and effort put into mapping would go directly to the people who needed it the most, and it would be immediately available to them. It was here that I realised this would probably be the way that Openstreetmap would reach the idea of a basic map of the world. With concentrated efforts like this.
When Missing Maps started up their Mapathons in London in late 2014 I travelled in to London to meet with like minded people who wanted to fill in the blank spaces. Because of my mapping background I was elevated to helper and then tutor quite quickly and I was achieving far more mapping by helping others to get started than I would achieve on my own. I became an active member of the HOT Training Working Group. I was also able to help the London Mapathon evolve into it’s present format of three sections …. iD, JOSM and Validators … and have been involved in 36 Mapathons to date helping the London team introduced Humanitarian mapping at many corporate and educational venues.
My record of involvement ( http://tasks.hotosm.org/user/RAytoun and http://hdyc.neis-one.org/?RAytoun ) shows that in a little less than four years I have created over 11,400 changesets and worked on 180 Tasking Manager projects which include HOT activations such as Mount Kelud, West Africa Ebola Outbreak, Malawi Floods, Typhoon Ruby, Cyclone Pam, Nepal Earthquake and Hurrican Matthew to name a few.
To me HOT has become a very important player in the field of Digital Humanitarianism and has helped to make Openstreetmap an important tool in Disaster Management and, with the Missing Maps Project, opened it up to many more Humanitarian initiatives and interventions. With Openstreetmap it has supplied the mechanisms and tools for the ordinary person on the street to become directly involved with assisting saving lives during disasters and is the instrument that motivates an army of volunteers to step in at short notice and make a very real difference in the planning and management of rescue, recovery and rehabilitation.
Becoming a voting member shows my commitment to HOT and gives me a say in the the type of people who will be voted to the Board to represent HOT. It also adds credibility to my position as a guest speaker promoting HOT and Openstreetmap at various institutions and functions. I will continue to increase the numbers of trained mappers and validators, continue my involvement with the Training Working Group and will expand my activities and involvement with the Disaster Risk Reduction Unit of Portsmouth University. I would like to help the volunteers of HOT remain focused on assisting in times of humanitarian disasters.
My main interest is in the standard of mapping. A real challenge at this stage is to keep HOT’s mapping during disaster activations at a good standard of accuracy so that the teams on the ground will continue to see it as a tool that they can rely on at the moment when it is most needed. By working with the developers to improve the editors and tools available, with the Training Working Group to improve Training Aids and by training new mappers and new validators at Missing Maps Mapathons so they are ready to start mapping when a disaster occurs will hopefully help to raise the standard of mapping and increase the number of volunteers available to map during activations.
As a cartographer I was aware of Openstreetmap and how it started as a way to break Ordnance Survey’s hold on copyright and to free up mapping for small cartographic companies and freelancers with a copyright free map of the world.
It was quite a while after I retired that I took a look at Openstreetmap (May 2013) and started mapping around where I lived using Potlach. I realised how incomplete the mapping was with inconsistency throughout. Looking around other parts of the world I realised just how much of the world just did not have any basic mapping at all. I realised that to achieve a consistent coverage of basic mapping throughout would take years of work by lots of mappers. I saw that some had tried mass imports which made me shudder. I know how much work it takes to fix up some of the material we had bought in just to correct it and bring it up to a standard for us to use in our reference atlases. I also noticed the problems with rendering on the map itself. Map symbols were used randomly without proper structure, for example a line with a peck and dot was used in administrative boundaries and in highways, both with an array of colours. It would have been more prudent to have set aside the peck and dot line in varying combinations and boldness with the single colour purple for administrative boundaries. Thus anything on the map in Purple would be an admin boundary and the more bold it was would indicate it’s higher admin level. That would have made them easily identifiable on the map and the map user would not be continually trying to find a list of symbols to know what they are looking at. And then I realised that I was thinking Conventional Cartography …. and OSM was definitely not Conventional. I had to adjust my thinking to be able to fit in with OSM.