Launching: [Language] Localization as an Inclusion and Participatory Enabler

Posted by arnalielsewhere on 13 October 2021 in English (English). Last updated on 15 October 2021.

Together with the local communities/contributors from Vietnam, Madagascar and Mozambique, and Open Mapping Hubs (Asia-Pacific, and East & Southern Africa), I am very happy to share with you the collaboration Project: Localization as an Inclusion and Participatory Enabler (also available in French, Portuguese and Spanish).

Summary of the project details:

Language barrier and the default to English puts non-English speakers at a systemic disadvantage throughout open mapping communities and humanitarian open mapping activities that HOT tries to support, resulting in significant missed participation and impact (Gayton, 2021) .


We believe that language localization will enable inclusion and participation of underrepresented groups in mapping, dialogues and other humanitarian open mapping activities.


We aim to develop baseline data to inform a self-sustainable localization strategy to bridge the gap between language and accessibility of Open Mapping resources that serve communities involved in humanitarian / development work (see HOT’s Priority Countries).


We will be running small experiments (i.e. translation workflows, and engagements) with local communities to test how localisation of resources could work in the main languages of 3 priority countries: Vietnam (Tieng Viet), Madagascar (French) and Mozambique (Portuguese).

Timeline (subject to change)
  • June-July: Initial brainstorming, set-up and analysis on requirements (complete)
  • August- September: Engagements with communities as collaborators in the experiments (complete)
  • October - November: Experiments/Translations running
  1. Communities identify and prioritize which resources are important to them and they want to localize to contribute to OpenStreetMap and Open Mapping
  2. HOT Community Team supports in translation using machine translator
  3. Communities review the first pass of translation and finalize the resource in their language to promote in their communities
  • Mid November - December:
  1. Experiment results and insights published
  2. Localization strategy initial proposal
  3. Community review
How you can get involved:
  • Read the project document and comment your thoughts directly to the document, in this diary or in the Humanitarian Open Mapping CommunityWG Forum thread
  • Suggest people or organization/s (or articles/initiatives) that you think can advise us regarding this project (comment or share them in this thread).
Special thanks to local community collaborators:
  • Vietnam: Tony, Huy and Grab Vietnam Map Operation Team
  • Madagascar: Faneva and Dolly
  • Mozambique: Rodolfo Junior, Pechiçoane Pechiço, Dinércia Macaringue, Edmilson Fuel, Daniel Mapsanganhe, Emerson Lopes, Rosário Mulhui and Vânia Muianga.

If you wish to know more about this and want to have a chat, please feel free to send me a message.

Thank you and we hope to engage with you in this project! :)


Location: Littleton, Arapahoe County, Colorado, United States

Comment from salvoconducto on 13 October 2021 at 22:22

In my opinion HOT is a colonial American (Red Cross) project. Have you noticed how quickly officials from US railed against collaborators from non-privileged countries (slavic nations) because they are not used to the fact that even criticism shall not be formulated without “great” and “awesome”?

Comment from RebeccaF on 14 October 2021 at 12:28

Hi Arnalie, Thanks so much for describing the details of the project, and to the Vietnam, Madagascar & Mozambique communities who are collaborating in it! I’m excited to learn how the experiments go and what learnings transition into developing a wider localization strategy. It would be great to hear if you have a list of any assumptions or hypotheses you will be testing through the experiment? Thanks, Rebecca

Comment from arnalielsewhere on 14 October 2021 at 14:39

@RebeccaF there are 3 assumptions (that I did not include in the diary but is in the project document):

Assumption 1: Localization will encourage and enable access and usage of our resources (tools, documentation, text and video manuals) and participation in our activities (e.g. services we offer such as training, open dialogues, etc).

Assumption 2: Localization will reduce the stigma (lack of English/European language fluency perceived as lack of intelligence or competence) and fear/lack of confidence that local communities feel when we communicate and engage with them.

Assumption 3: Localization will yield a better relationship with the priority communities/ countries we want to support.

Comment from RebeccaF on 14 October 2021 at 15:39

Hey, thanks so much for sharing those, great to leran more about what we can learn from the process!

Comment from TylerOSM on 15 October 2021 at 16:15

Very excited about the potential here and what we can learn from this. Arnalie, what types of things do you think will be prioritized as “resources”. Is it documents, training materials, certain websites like LearnOSM or localizing the front-end UI of our tech tools (adding more languages to Tasking Manager), or is it external communications? (As one example do we foresee English continuing to be used in regional social media or is this a lesser priority for now?)

Comment from arnalielsewhere on 15 October 2021 at 17:42

@TylerOSM hi Tyler, it differs per community. We want them to identify that instead of us identifying it since the local collaborators have the knowledge of what resource would be most beneficial/have highest value for their communities :)

To give you a background, here are the first resource/s that the communities have identified and why these resources (based on community calls), as well as translation status.

  1. Background: Vietnamese collaborators find it most beneficial to translate OSM tagging guidelines to support them in making contributions in the map
  2. Status: a.) first pass of translation done, thanks to Grab Vietnam Map Operation Team b.) awaiting finalization/second pass of translation from Tony & Huy
  1. Background: Madagascar collaborators find HOT documentation/opportunities to translate in French so they can actively participate to HOT activities (e.g. prepare proposals, etc)
  2. Status: a.) first pass of translation done via deepL machine translator b.) review made via OSM Wiki
  1. Background: During the initial call with Mozambique collaborators, they wanted to know first what humanitarian open mapping resources are available. I gave them the list (website (including tools eg Tasking Manager, learnOSM), osm wiki pages, youtube videos, social media, etc). We suggested to do the Grants page first so they can participate in the call and they agreed. In the following days, they have identified 2 training videos (beginner iD and JOSM editing), 1 community webinar video (on starting local community), and the Activation Protocol + Activation Training Center.
  2. Status a.) first pass of translation done via deepL machine translator b.) done/ review made via OSM Wiki

We will make future write ups/blogs/resports to share the progress of the Project. Thank you!


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