bo_hot's Diary

Recent diary entries

hot_tech_talk | Apr 22

Posted by bo_hot on 20 May 2022 in English (English).


  • Is the world spinning faster?

  • The hot_tech_connect gathering

  • The future of hot_tech

  • AI integrated + RapiD/TM soft launch

  • We are hiring! On the hunt for a new Senior front-end designer/developer and a junior support software engineer.

Happy Friday all,

This month I have been feeling like the world has been spinning faster than ever. Does anyone else feel that? The days just don’t seem as long as they used to be? Do the image offsets seem to be more often and further than they have been in the past? … Read more here >


hot_tech goes big at FOSS4G. The team had four (yep 4) of our talks accepted to FOSS4G that will be happening in Firenze, Italy in August this year.

  • @ramyaragupathy will be presenting on Galaxy and the journey the project has taken with her at the lead

  • @Yogesh and @dk will be presenting on using terraform to manage HOT’s tech infrastructure.

  • @Petya Kangalova will be presenting in collaboration with Kathmandu Living Labs on the Tasking Manager Collective journey and learnings.

  • @cristiano and @dk will presenting on the new OpenAerialMap Redesign project with Kontour.

ci vediamo a Firenze!!

#Events & Opportunities:

We are hiring!

_ Senior front-end designer/developer, apply here >
_ Junior support software, to be posted Monday May 23.

#Project updates:


The Galaxy team has been working solidly this month, on a final push for the completion of underpass, the stabilising of export tool and closing out our design project with Harvard Tech for Social Good. If you want the latest updates, connect to the #osm-galaxy channel in our slack and join the monthly working groups.

Tasking Manager

The Kathmandu Living Labs team has been going from strength to strength, updating and releasing extra bug fixes for Tasking Manager (including the new RapID integration). We will be meeting with the KLL team in Kathmandu (IN PERSON!), so if you have requests, now’s the time to add them to the github issues here and now >


We are now wrapping up phase one of the design work with Kontour for the redux of OAM. Some super interesting insights coming out of this that we will be sharing soon, and I want to thank everyone who contributed to this process for their inputs. We really hope that what comes out will be a good exchange for what you put in.

Export tool

We acknowledge that we’ve been having some issues with export tool this month and I apologise for the disruptions some of you may have been facing. Kshitij, our super engineer from Nepal has been working hard at correcting the issues and the rest of the team is now working toward replacing the data source with Underpass. Watch this space, I’ve seen a preview and I think you’re going to like what’s coming…

hot_tech_talk | Mar 22

Posted by bo_hot on 13 April 2022 in English (English).


  • We finally got some real life in-person meets!

  • Welcome to Emilio. Our new Sr Engineer!

  • We are hiring! We are on the hunt for a new Senior front-end designer/developer.

  • New TM deployment false start. New deployment Wed 12th April

  • Mobile mapping ‘ease of use’ experiments are underway.

Happy days, all!

Back for yet another month and wow did that month fly by! Literally, I boarded a plane for work purposes for the first time in 2 years!

First stop, Dakar, Senegal, where a few of the tech team members supported the launch of the new West and Northern Africa Open Mapping Hub. It was super exciting to see the way the hub will be leading with OSM community needs and how our tech can support. …

Read more here »

Location: Chez Gargairon, La Muraz, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Upper Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France

hot_tech_talk | Feb ‘22

Posted by bo_hot on 11 March 2022 in English (English).

Happy end of Feb all! (yes, I realise it’s already mid March)

After 2 long grounded years, hot_tech is starting to take off again - both figuratively and literally. Our team is now turning our attention and efforts toward working alongside hubs, contributors and users to test and evolve existing and potential humanitarian OSM tools increase access, usage and contribution to OSM.

Full blog post here »


  • hot_tech are leaving the comfort of our home offices and engaging with hubs, contributors and users around existing and future humanitarian OSM tech.
  • We are building some experimental workflows for conflating AI generated data with OSM data, which we plan to share for all to see and scrutinise around May.
  • OpenAerialMap design research is underway in partnership with Kontour (of Disaster Ninja fame) - Look out for opportunities to get involved.
  • The Harvard Tech for Social Good team continues their work as they connect with users and community members interested in Galaxy.

# Announcements:

  • We have kicked off a redesign for OpenAerialMap (OAM). We will be working closely with users and communities who use and depend on OAM to discover needs, wants and wishes to be included in the next version of OAM. If you’d like to be involved, please reach out to Cristiano or DK.

  • Omran Najjar played a starring role on a webinar hosted by Omdena, where he talked though HOT’s evolving AI-assisted workflows. You can rewatch the event here »

  • We will be welcoming a new senior engineer to the team in March. They are a passionate, experienced and dedicated OSM contributor and we are really looking forward to officially welcoming them next week!

  • We are contributing to the improvement of OSMSeed in collaboration with Development seed. We will share more on this soon, but the short version is, together we hope to improve the flexibility, accessibility and usability of OSMSeed for other users in the ecosystem.

# Project updates:


  • UX research work w/ Harvard Tech for Social Good - user interviews conducted to understand the data points.

  • Improving the user experience on Galaxy website

  • Enable OSM raw data downloads through Galaxy

  • Next Galaxy working group meetings will be: Tue Mar 15, 1600UTC / Wed Mar 16, 0900UT

Tasking Manager

  • KLL are already merging new feature updates for a new release coming soon, including RapID integration, implementing OAuth 2.0 for login, and other important bug fixes and updates.

  • Our new Collective Facilitator Petya is reinforcing the ways contributors can get involved in the Tasking Manager Collective with improvements to the issues queue and new documentation.

  • We are having a Tasking Manager Meetup on 6 April in multiple time zones for anyone who wishes to join. Details to follow.


  • We kicked off the contract with Kontur on the OAM Design Project

  • We are doing user interviews with OAM stakeholders

  • Kontur has created a Miro board for mapping stakeholder personas. Soon to be publically viewable.

Location: Chez Gargairon, La Muraz, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Upper Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France

New Year, New Team members

Posted by bo_hot on 1 March 2022 in English (English).

Well, what a start to the year it’s been! Like mentioned previously, new directions, new collaborations and, I’m excited to announce, new team members!

While you can read the official bios for each new member linked by their name, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce them unofficially to everyone. Please see their unofficial bios and a quick insight into why I’m really glad to have them joining our team.

Leen D’hondt - Senior Product Development Manager

Leen’s unofficial intro
Leen is passionate about maps and how maps are used to create a ‘better’ world. She will co-drive the product strategy of the HOT Tech products so as to build tech products for the use cases our stakeholders care about most. 

 Leen is not only passionate about mapping and usage of maps. One of the things she loves is to spend time outdoors, especially in the mountains or at the beach. As a mother of two boys, she probably needs to start playing football ;-).

Bo’s intro
Leen is a perfect combination of strategy and action. On her first day, she was immediately asking the big questions of why are we doing this and then jumping straight into what we are doing and how. Pretty much the best first impression a PDM can make.

I am excited to have Leen on board, as she is an open minded active listener, which makes her perfect for this role. Not only does Leen have a wealth of experience in the OSM world (joining us from TomTom), but her commitment to understanding what is best for the team, while at the same time understanding how we serve the ‘greater good’ is something we will all benefit from personally and professionally.

Petya Kangalova - tech_collective facilitator

Petya’s unofficial intro
“I joined the HOT tech team in February 2022 as Tech Collective Facilitator, currently based in Bristol, UK. I am really passionate about the impact of open mapping and using technology as the enabler for people in supporting their communities.

In this role, I am excited to build a dynamic collective of open tech contributors! I am a team player and thrive by collaborating with people- I believe we can learn something from every single person we meet! Besides being an open data and tech geek, I have a true passion for dance and have been performing since I was 6 years old, ranging from Latin and Ballroom to various African and Afro-Caribbean styles. If you get to know me, you will also learn that I laugh a lot, love coffee, sunshine, traveling and everything in the colour yellow (yellow heart emoji would go here)

Bo’s intro
Petya was involved in setting the standard for openness and transparency in international development and humanitarian resources (she joins us from IATI. While this alone is invaluable to our work, it was Petya’s commitment to engaging people in the process and connecting their work to impact that really spoke directly to us. Petya is the personification of HOT’s core ‘Openness and Transparency’ value and in her role as tech_collective facilitator we know she will work closely with our project communities to ensure everyone can engage and contribute in an open, just and accessible way.

Kristen Tonga - Android Engineer

Kristen’s unofficial intro
Software Engineer Kristen Tonga has a proven track record of successfully architecting solutions with limited resources and strict requirements.

Before becoming an engineer, Kristen spent four years traveling the world as a commercial fisherwoman and a traveling portraitist. She spends her free time crafting, planting backyard gardens and volunteering at conferences as a stage manager, sound tech, and MC. Kristen graduated Vassar College three semesters early with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

Bo’s intro
Kristen may not be a new face to many in HOT. She has already worked alongside some of our team and team members while living in East Africa. One thing that I noticed immediately when chatting with Kristen was her human first mindset to tech. Despite probably holding the solution in her head, her commitment to understanding the problem and people first really spoke to our HOT’s people first value.

Kristen’s consideration and intention into how she approaches her work aligns strongly to what we are working toward at hot_tech. Intentional technology that isn’t the typical ‘go fast and break things’ approach. Our mobile tech and our users will benefit greatly from her approach and skills.

Location: Ile-de-France, Metropolitan France, 75004, France

Welcome to the collective, KLL!

Posted by bo_hot on 8 February 2022 in English (English).

Welcome to the collective, KLL!

Everyone is probably well familiar with hot_tech’s right turn and TM Tomorrow ambitions - our main goal being to work toward building more of our tech with community.

Our first step in putting these words into action is by building and investing in contributors, makers, tinkerers and users to support the maintenance, evolution and growth of humanitarian OSM tools,

It is therefore with great excitement and pleasure that I have the opportunity to officially announce the first member of this tech_collective: Kathmandu Living Labs who will be taking on the maintenance of the HOT tasking manager for the next 6 months (and possibly beyond).

Each month KLL, hot_tech (and a future community product owner), will be sitting down to identify and triage the most pressing issues expressed by the Tasking Manager community. These issues will be available for viewing as a public project on our TM github. KLL will then be applying their brilliant minds to tackling these issues to best serve the needs of Tasking Manager collective and the wider HOT and OSM communities. Monthly deployments will then be handled in collaboration with the hot_tech core team (shout out to DK and Yogesh for their often thankless behind the scenes efforts on this).

If you have issues, features or enhancements that are either new, or outstanding, I highly encourage you to start getting them shaed and consolidated in the TM github repo. Triage will be based on community resonance and response, so if there are others you know that share your issues, bringing others around these common issues will bring them up in the triage.

I for one am very excited about step toward TM tomorrow and I encourage everyone to welcome KLL and and engage in the #tasking-manager channel or submit issues via the TM github

Location: Chez Gargairon, La Muraz, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Upper Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France

hot_tech_talk | jan 22

Posted by bo_hot on 4 February 2022 in English (English).

Hi all,

To better get the word out about what hot_tech is up to, each month I’m going to sit down and reflect and share the fruits of our labour so people can see what we’re working on, who’s working on it and how you can get involved. I’m sure these will evolve over time, so consider this a starting point.


  • Welcome to Kristen (android engineer), Leen (senior product manager) and Petya (tech collective facilitator); three new members joining us at hot_tech this month.

  • hot_tech has a new vision ‘just tech to connect people and places’ There’s a lot of ‘new’ this year for hot_tech, including new vision, new direction, new projects.

  • Kathmandu Living Labs are officially our first ever ‘collective’ partners. And will be the new official Tasking Manager maintainers.

You can read the full blog and details on the hot_tech blog here >.

Hope you’ve all had a nice warm up to the new year!



Location: Chez Gargairon, La Muraz, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Upper Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France

As many of you know, over the last 6 months or so, we have been reimagining what the future of the Tasking Manager could look like for HOT and the wider Humanitairan and OSM communities.

We have taken the time to reflect and consult in an effort to create a new model for Tasking Manager that aspires to get the Tasking Manager back to its community software roots. You can read about the ‘TM Tomorrow’ here to get up to speed and find (or contribute) questions and answers you may also have.

As the next step in the TM Tomorrow journey, we are now looking for an individual who would like to volunteer as a community caretaker for the Tasking Manager and are open to anyone who would like to express their interest in this position. You can read the full position description here >

Position description tldr;
* Expected time commitment is about 5 hours a week.
* Responsibilities include, project direction, roadmaps and issue prioritisation.
* Will be supported by TM Maintainers, hot_tech collective facilitator, and hot_tech in general.

A few questions that have arisen since we first started talking about this idea that may be helpful to those considering expressing their interest (or feedback).

Q: Why are you doing this?
The short answer to this is to reduce our control and reignite the collective. HOT recognises its role in taking primary control for the project in recent years and the effects of this (and recognise those effects haven’t always been positive). While this did allow us to move things forward, we also recognise our control has reduced engagement of our collective of contributors, stakeholders and users. Moving forward, we want to reduce HOT’s control of the project and shift power back into the collective, where HOT serves and supports the collective, rather than substituting it.

Q: What is a ‘collective guide’?
The Collective Guide will be an individual who fundamentally believes in the vision and value of the Tasking Manager project to improve organised mapping for humanitarian and sustainable development purposes. The Collective Guide will engage with and represent the collective of contributors, users and stakeholders. The Collective Guide will represent the collective’s voice for project direction, product roadmaps, issue prioritisation, feature and enhancement requests and design decisions.

Q: Why is this a volunteer position?
This is a good question and one we are open to having our minds changed. This has been initially imagined as a volunteer position due to feedback of how compensation can influence project direction. We would love to see the Guide be a voice of the Collective and their agenda, not just one that’s been financially incentivised by HOT. However, I do want to openly recognise that volunteering requires time, capacity and resources. We don’t want constraints on an individual’s time, capacity and resources to inhibit them from applying or holding this position. If there is a way that we can maintain impartiality and accommodate considerations of equitable participation then we are open to exploring that also.

Q: How will the person be selected?
We will have a panel of people made up of contributors, users and stakeholders that will select the successful individual. We want to make sure that a good cross section of representatives from the collective influence the decision and not just the hot_tech team.

If you would like to express your interest and nominate yourself for this role, please reach out to me (Bo - or through the HOT slack).

Location: Chez Gargairon, La Muraz, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Upper Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France


Posted by bo_hot on 16 December 2021 in English (English). Last updated on 17 December 2021.

Hi all,

Some of you may remember earlier this year we conducted an experiment to compare traditional mapping with ai-assisted mapping. Below is our summary of findings and the full report for those who may be interested. We hope this experiement will be the start of the conversation of how we can ethically and responsibly introduce AI augmented mapping workflows into HOT’s work in 2022.

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, comparison of traditional digitizing of building features in OpenStreetMap of machine learning assisted building digitization

Key findings:

  • Although most participants were new to AI-assisted mapping, the majority of participants were open and likely to integrate it into their workflows.
  • For beginner mappers, AI-assisted mapping drastically increased their mapping speed, but had no significant effect on their quality
  • For advanced mappers, after a small mapping slow-down, AI-assisted enabled more efficient mapping without impacting their quality
  • Open models offer significant potential impact and value for humanitarian response
  • More data created through AI-assisted mapping may exacerbate the ‘validation bottleneck’

In the last 10 years, the use of AI/ML in the geospatial sector has boomed. Private sector, academic and nonprofit organizations alike have been investing significant thought, time and resources into exploring and testing the potential and possibility of how AI/ML can augment and amplify current GIS workflows.

Unfortunately for the open mapping community, a ‘go fast and break things’ approach has done exactly that, often coming at significant cost to the project and the community. As a result, open mapping communities are reluctant to allow unchecked AI/ML to roam free in the world that is OSM - created and crafted by countless hours of dedicated human mapping.

As the future approaches, so too does the intersection of mapmakers and AI-augmented mapmaking. With new AI models and datasets being generated daily, the pressure builds to find a middle ground where AI can assist, augment and amplify the dedicated map makers in an ethical and responsible way that protects the quality, integrity and value of the map. Our experiment set out to leverage collective intelligence to seek a point of convergence, rather than collision.

By understanding key concerns of the community and carefully integrating them into experiment design, we explored an agreed set of assumptions that could be objectively tested. Stakeholders, users, contributors, technologists and map makers came together with the joint intention of finding a path forward, collectively.

We learned that AI can assist and amplify the efforts of mappers to produce more map data. However, this comes with a condition: AI-assistance amplifies the speed of map data creation, but does not significantly improve data quality (nor does it worsen it).

Amplifying the efforts of an early journey mapper who has yet to learn the importance of map data quality, will obviously create more data, but at beginner levels of data quality. This increases the workload of human data validators and as such should be carefully integrated alongside data quality education.

For advanced mappers we learned that new tools initially cost time, but not quality. Advanced mappers who have spent years refining their craft have to redirect well formed pathways. However, advanced mappers understand the importance of data quality and therefore prioritise producing quality data even if it means taking more time. They are less likely to fall for the temptation of accepting lower quality machine predictions for the sake of speed. For advanced mappers, mapping takes time and attention, two traits they were not immediately willing to defer to the machine.

Through the creation of an open model for gap detection/completeness, 510/Netherland’s Red Cross demonstrated that AI can be accessible to all, especially during times of disaster. This was practically demonstrated when an open model developed for this experiment was used to respond to a typhoon in the Philippines to predict the impact of the typhoon on the local population.

Our acceptability survey showed us that people are open. Open to trying out something new and open to adopting new ways of working. Open to experimenting and exploring and understanding how we can go slow and get it right. Together we benefited from collective intelligence and from community intelligence, which allows our community to take the results forward into the perceptions and assumptions that have been often held but rarely tested. This allows all actors in the community to find an ai-assisted road forward, together.

For the full design, methodology and results you can read the full study report here >

The full NESTA Collective Intelligence Report can be found here >

A final appreciation to both NESTA for the grant to fund this study and to all the volunteers who participated in our study mapathons!

Location: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France

Hi all,

I hope you are all well and safe.

As many of you know, we have been working on a new model to ensure Tasking Manager (TM) continues to get the love and attention it well deserves. As we unpacked the value of the project, we started to realise just how much we value the inputs and contributions of a large collective of contributors lodging issues, PRs, code, resources etc. I went through every single issue on TM’s Repo and was really blown away by just how much support the project gets both in front of and behind the screens.

Moving forward, we really want to return TM to its former community-lead glory and as such have put together this proposal for what TM’s Tomorrow could look like.

I invite everyone to comment in the doc on things they like or don’t like or questions they have so we can reenergise our love for the TM and it’s sustainability and evolution. There is a long list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) at the end of the doc, but I also invite you to add your questions as a comment to the FAQs so we can endeavour to answer them as well.

I really look forward to your feedback.



p.s. we are also now on the hunt for a possible community representative product owner for TM, so if this sounds like something you could be interested in, please get in touch.

Location: Chez Gargairon, La Muraz, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Upper Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France

hot_tech t21 ‘basemap’

Posted by bo_hot on 23 September 2021 in English (English).

Hi all,

Many people have been asking me over the last year what technology HOT is working on, what’s on the cards for the future and where we are headed. Given my role, all good questions I want to answer. The good news is, I have some of the answers and would like to share them with everyone for feedback, ideas or inputs as you feel compelled.

Sharing here for community comments hot_tech’s t21 basemap. This document outlines what underpins our future direction, decisions and deliverables.

For those that don’t want to read the whole thing, as the elevator pitch reads, the heart of our mission lies here:
By redirecting resources to augment and amplify the efforts of others, the future of hot_tech will no longer be focused on building technology for open mapping collectives, but instead building technology with them.

While I recognise this doc may not answer all questions and possibly raise even more, we see this as the starting point, our nodes and ways, our building=yes from which we can start to add more depth.

For those that just want the short version, I have summarised all the key changes in our ‘right turn document’, which clearly outlines not only what we plan to do, but also how we plan to do it.

Like it says at the end of the doc ’The closing of this document marks the opening of the conversation’, so I look forward to having this conversation with our entire collective of hot_tech supporters, stakeholders, contributors and users.



Location: Chez Gargairon, La Muraz, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Upper Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France

tldr; hot_tech is running the second round of an ai-assisted mapping study
Call to action: please sign up to participate or share with your networks
time: read: 5m | sign-up: 5m
best before: Sept 17th, 2021

Hi all!

As some of you may remember, earlier this year HOT undertook an experiment to compare tradiational mapping with AI-Assisted mapping. After the first round of results have been gathered (soon to be released), hot_tech will be undertaking round two (Sept 17th, 2021) and we are looking for beginner mappers (<50 changesets) to join the study.

The experiment is designed to compare the results of traditional remote mapping workflows (editing in ID Editor) with emerging AI assisted workflows (editing with RapID). To do this, we will be conducting mapping experiments of two locations (Uganda and US), with beginner mappers (<50 changesets) using the two different remote mapping workflows (RapID and ID).

On Sept 17th, 2021, we will run one mapathon of 90 minutes, with participants being randomly assigned - prior to beginning mapping - to map building footprints with either ID or RapID. Data will be gathered on the existence of map features in two locations (US and Uganda) from which we will compare the completeness of mapped features and similarity of map features when compared with an OSM reference dataset.

For the mapathons we will be using convenience sampling from our networks by generating a public call for participants.

A couple of specific asks, please email if:
_ You would like to be involved in any capacity (organising, recruiting, sharing, supporting, please shoot me an email)
_ You would like to support the mapathons specifically, that would be great
_ You would like to participate in the mapathons please please sign up to participate HERE »

Thanks all, I hope everyone is safe and well and looking forward to exploring this with you all soon.



Location: Chez Gargairon, La Muraz, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Upper Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France

If I had 60 minutes to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 mins solving it - Albert Einstein

Whichever version you have heard of the quote above, be it Einstein, Lincoln or others, they speak to a very critical aspect of tech development. Being clear about a problem (or six), will more likely lead to a useful solution. It is for this reason, that before the team at hot_tech starts ‘solutioning’, we must deeply understand the pains and problems that plague our space.

Further boiling down our findings from our Design Sprintathon posted last week and sharing more of our learnings over the last year as we engage deeper with the HOT and OSM collectives, the following post is a reduction of many conversations into what hot_tech sees as the most rich and flavourful version, from the source.

The list below is a summary of the full list here for comment. It is by no means an exhasitive list of all problems that exist, nor it is a hierarchy of which problems are more important than others. Rather, it is a list compiled of the voices we heard and what they told us was important to them. It is a list of causes and effects of pains and problems that our team desires to explore further and contribute to easing. By seeking relievers for these pains and problems, hot_tech feels we can either enable or amplify the work of those that choose to use our products as a means to meet their ends. We don’t expect our solutions to be silver bullets, nor do we feel we are the only group who can do it, but these are the problems we feel we can make both valuable and meaningful contributions toward resolving.

After reading this list, we encourage two things:

  1. Reflect on it and ask ‘does this problem resonate with you?’
  2. Provide feedback either in the comments here, or in this document directly.

We will keep this feedback open for aound a month (end of May) and then we will collect the feedback into a ‘problem statement backlog’, which will be open to our collectives to collectively prioritise and guide hot_tech on what to tackle, when and in which order.

The summary list below contains:

core probelm

A short summary of why this problem is a priority

  • And dots are a sample of comments we heard
  • from the people we have spoken with over the last year or so

Map inequity

Map inequity is a statement that recognises multiple conversations currently happening around us. We see this as a result of a countless lower level manifestations. In fact, in one way or another all our problem statements interact with map inequity at some level. We feel this is an important problem that goes far beyond the borders of technology, however, we also feel technology can play a critical role in contributing a more equitable and representative map in the future.

  • A generic map shows data, not diversity
  • Contributing to the map is not a level playing field
  • Data is not owned by the contributor

High technical barriers to entry

Accessibility is a resounding pain point for many users in HOT and OSM ecosystems. The statements collected below reflect the challenge many face identifying what they need, which tool will help them meet their need and then how to navigate open source software reliability. This process costs users time and often turns people away from wanting to contribute.

  • Mapping is open, but that doesn’t make it easy
  • Difficulties using hot_tech tools
  • Difficult to make locally sourced contributions easily

High variance in quality of data being contributed

Most know the ‘QIQO (Quality In, Quality Out)’ principle. Without an objective standard of quality, anything that follows is likely unreliable or redundant. As the number of mappers grows, so too will variability in quality. Developing tools that prioritise and promote quality mappers, quality mapping and quality maps, will help to manage and mitigate the future influx of data and possible quality issues.

  • Large amounts of ‘low quality’ data being contributed through large group mapping events
  • Long learning curve for contributing ‘quality’ data
  • Lack of consensus for critical definitions such as quality, completeness and ‘local’

Data isn’t equally accessible & used

We know that knowledge is power, so when data is accessible and used by anyone its power is amplified. It is therefore critical that once high quality data is contributed, it can then be equally accessible and used to maximise the value of the data to individuals, communities and stakeholders to improve agency and equitable societies.

  • Difficult to use data for the simple yet practical
  • Multiple incongruent and inconsistent data sources exist across the ecosystem - where to look and what to rely on?
  • A single ‘Truth’ is not congruous for all users

Importance of learning undervalued/under-recognised in mapping

For some mapping is a lifelong journey of learning and discovery, for others, it is a short trip motivated by a single event. Often ‘mapping’ is promoted or perceived as a quick and easy way to ‘do good’, without full recognition of what it takes to create reliable data. If learning is overlooked, people often miss out on opportunities for growth and improvement and quick edits rarely lead to quality endpoints.

  • Learning process is long, cumbersome and discouraging
  • Learning is not distributed equally, nor consistently
  • Learning progress difficult to track

Breakdown in communication and connections between collectives

Historically there has been a critical disconnect between remote and local groups of mappers. This disconnect, while spanning geographic locations, also spans culture, values and most importantly identity. We recognise a shift in the HOT and OSM ecosystem and a need for closer connections and improved communication between those who are there and those who are somewhere else. While we don’t expect to resolve some of these issues by throwing a message feature at the problem, we do aim to improve the communication between local and remote groups, so local collectives can drive the direction, needs and priorities that impact them directly.

  • Lack of online spaces for people to self-organise, coordinate and collaborate on shared problems, philosophies, principles and purposes
  • Communication breakdown between local and remote mappers
  • Barriers to communication between collectives

We look forward to hearing more from more of you.



Location: Chez Gargairon, La Muraz, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Upper Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France

Design Sprintathon

Posted by bo_hot on 2 April 2021 in English (English).

Well, what a start to the year it’s been.

It’s taken a little while to get this post together, as I think myself and the rest of hot_tech needed a bit of time to recover after kicking of this year in 6th gear with two back to back RaDs.

Some of you may remember these daily posts introducing everyone to the concept of hot_tech Rapid Assessment Design Prints (aka RaDs). Back then, in writing, it all seemed so clear and clean. Now writing this, I remember just how muddy and messy this process is in action. A process of continuous lessons and learning.

Lesson 1: Sprint by name, marathon by nature. It may be called a sprint, but it requires the dedication, resilience and effort of a marathon.

Round 1

Our RaDs started with the intention of better understanding of who hot_tech served and how. Our BIG QUESTION - “What makes our groups stick, tick and thrive?”. We connected and explored with groups such as members of OSM Francophone, UN Mappers, Slum Dwellers International and a host of other super interesting collectives. We learned so much that to capture it all here would result in a post that is either too long, or under representative. As such, a few key learnings I wanted to share and the rest can be content for future posts.

RaDs pic one

My reflections:

We are one, but we are many - I can honestly say, that no two groups were the same. Their values, purpose, motivations and priorities vary as far as the geographies they span. And, they change over time. Understanding the diversity both within groups and across groups, makes our space both challenging and exciting. From a design perspective, it also makes it really difficult to identify your typical user for a personal perspective, it highlights just how diverse people that come to OSM are, which, I celebrate emphatically, as it means that we have a near infinite about of potential.

It’s more about time, than tools - I think this probably rings true for life in general, but time is a precious resource. Time is even more precious to those that have less of it, such as volunteers with competing obligations, capacity maxed-out staff and during disasters. A tool should amplify the efforts of the user. Not convinced? See how long it takes you to sink a nail with a screwdriver.

Motivation needs means - One powerful ‘penny-drop’ moment I had (and keep having), is the relationship between motivation and means. No matter how strong the motivation is to contribute to the map, without the means, it is meaningless. What do I mean by means? The free time, the access, the tools, the education, the training, the technical ability, the not having two jobs. For many people reading this, especially those who volunteer, think about what you have that allows you to map. Then realise, not everyone has that. Without those means, contribution comes at a higher cost.



Nice reflections Bo, but what did you actually do? Where did you end up? Well, glad you asked. We developed a prototype for an idea to support the individuals that are coordinating collectives to encourage and engage more mappers. You can see the prototype we built on figma here.

Round 2

As if we didn’t already feel the 2am meetings and the 6am starts hard enough, hot_tech decided to go back for seconds. This time in partnership with Accenture and two of their wonderful designers who added some external enthusiasm and expertise. This time we decided to switch the focus from remote collectives to local ones by exploring the focus: Identify and breakdown problems maps can help solve. I can honestly say that this did not go in the direction I had in mind, and yet ended exactly where it was supposed to.

Lesson 2: Trust in the process, revel in the chaos.


Bo’s Reflections:

What do needs, need? - One thing I found really interesting in this sprint was exploring what people need to support other needs. For example, what data do you need if you want to support water or sanitation projects in your community? For those that have been around OSM and mapping for a while, we often make the assumption that people know exactly what they need and why. We learned in this sprint that assumption is often not the case.

Mapping starts before mapping starts - Somewhat connected to the point above, we really learned that mapping begins much before any mapping has taken place. Mapping starts with a problem or a need and then once that need is clear and understood, then there are still a few steps before it begins. What we learned in this sprint, is that these steps are understood more by people with more experience and vice versa.

Power in priorities - The people who set the priorities hold the power. Traditionally, the needs of mapping projects have been defined and prioritised by ‘remote’ actors in the mapping ecosystem, with local needs an incidental bi-product. Many local communities who map find this disempowering that development is being done TO rather than WITH local communities. When the data is created, the value and ownership then falls to the group (often larger NGO or multilatérales) leaving the local community mappers with varying degrees of data that may or may not help them solve local problems. This was a significant wake up call for the need to have the local communities determine their needs and map with these needs as a priority.

Lesson 3: Collectives’ needs are what collectives need.


So where did this all end up? We ended up a with a prototype that aims to connect with people before they start mapping to better understand and identify what people within local communities are looking to solve and then connect them to other projects in other communities who may have tackled similar problems by collecting map data. This was the step before the start. The phase 0 kind of approach. You can see more how the prototype plays out in our figma prototype here. Go and have a play and feel free to tell us what you think.



What next?

Now what? Well, over the course of these RaDs we collected a lot of thinking material. Our conversations lead us to so many different places and now we have to boil this all down to something usable and useful. The next steps you will soon see coming from us are:

  • Capture all our problem statements and refine them into one simple list
  • Share that list with all of our collectives to understand what resonates most and what hot_tech should be prioritising
  • Develop an open and accessible backlog based on the priorities to show exactly what we plan to work on over the coming year or so
  • Create a feedback loop to ensure connection and engagement are open and ongoing.
  • Share both the roadmaps and the journey with you all as we undertake this a new collective-centric approach to hot_tech’s work.

Bon voyage!

Location: Chez Gargairon, La Muraz, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Upper Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France

hot_tech here to help...

Posted by bo_hot on 22 March 2021 in English (English).

So, over at HOT_tech we’ve we’ve been working hard, so you can work easy. Our number one priority is hearing and helping, so we’ve made some changes to make it easy for you to notify us of bugs, issues and support requests.

All roads lead to…’hot_tech_requests’

We know that everyone likes to communicate in different ways; slack, email, online forms etc and we don’t want to change this. We want to meet you where you are. However, we also want to make sure that no request is left behind. As such, we have established a service desk that brings your request from where you are, to where we are - the hot_tech_requests desk.

So how does it work?

  1. You send us a message however you want.
  2. That message gets added to our service desk backlog (and you get a nice message to say ‘thanks’)
  3. We work to resolve it
  4. You get updates on how it’s progressing and when it’s done.

Raise your voice by raising a ticket and make sure that your voice gets heard and your ticket attended to.

So how do I do it?

Well, glad you asked, I was just about to mention. Everything can be done in three steps or less.

The hot_tech_requests desk (rapid response, requires email for updates)

  1. Go to hot_tech_requests desk >
  2. Select your issue and complete the form >
  3. Done >

You will be automatically updated via the email address you provided

Shout out on Slack (regular response, requires slack membership)

  1. Go to this channel in hotosm slack > #hot_tech_requests
  2. Type a message related to your issue.
  3. Done!

Issue updates will be posted directly to this channel so everyone can see the progress.

Send an email (regular response, no sign-up required)

  1. Email this address
  2. Done

You will be automatically updated via the email address you used to send the request

GitHub (regular response, included in backlogs, github account required)

  1. Go to our GitHub
  2. Find the product connected to your request
  3. Create a ‘New issue’ (e.g Tasking Manager issues are found here »)

Updates will happen directly on that issue in GitHub and notifications are optional

If there’s another way you’d like us to setup to make it even easier, let us know and we can look at setting that up too!

Location: Chez Gargairon, La Muraz, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Upper Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France

Over the past few months HOT has been working in partnership with NESTA Collective Intelligence grants and 510 at the Netherlands Red Cross to implement an experiment to test the efficiency and efficacy of AI assistance on remote mapping of buildings.

The experiment is designed to compare the results of traditional remote mapping workflows (editing in ID Editor) with emerging AI assisted workflows (editing with RapID). To do this, we will be conducting mapping experiments of two locations (Uganda and US), with two different levels of mappers (beginner and advanced) using the two different remote mapping workflows (RapID and ID).

To this end, we are looking to run four experimental groups with > 50 people each, as follows: Beginner Mapathon - Uganda data Beginner Mapathon - US data Advanced Mapathon - Uganda data Advanced Mapathon - US data

Each mapathon will be a total of two hours, with participants being randomly assigned to map building footprints with either ID or RapID prior to beginning their mapping. Data will be gathered on the existence of map features, completeness of mapped features and similarity of map features, when compared with an OSM reference dataset.

For the mapathons we will be using convenience sampling from our networks by generating a public call for participants.

You can sign up to participate in the experiment here >



Location: Chez Gargairon, La Muraz, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Upper Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 74560, France

What makes group glue?

Posted by bo_hot on 12 January 2021 in English (English).

Hi All,

For all those playing along at home, hot_tech - The tech team at Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team - kicked off our Design Sprints yesterday and I thought I would share the BIG question we’re looking to explore (and our pretty hot dot map).

Sprint Theme: Group Mapping
BIG question: What makes group glue? What makes mapping groups stick, tick and strong:

hot dot map

If you have some thoughts or opinions about mapping in groups (or what makes them stick, tick or strong) or any of the questions you see here, reach out to us and we can include you in our engage days (Wednesday and Thursday, any time zone). You can DM us here, or complete this form >

Location: Lake Conjola, Shoalhaven City Council, New South Wales, 2539, Australia

you get credit for what you finish, not what you start - unkown

Today is the day to put our ideas into the hands of the people that face the problem.

For those that haven’t heard of Paulo Freire, to introduce him here would not do him justice. However, he fundamentally shaped me both personally and professionally.

‘The people that face the problem, are those best placed to solve it’. - Paulo Friere

There is little I am more passionate about in this world than this statement.

It is for this reason, that Friday is one of my favourite days in the design sprints. It’s the day where we finally get to see if our listening and learning was translated into something that will help people solve their problems. Ultimately it is a day of practicing deep humility.

Whoever teaches, learns in the act of teaching and whoever learns, teaches in the act of learning. - Paulo Friere.

And that’s what we’re here to do. Learn. We are in search of the golden equation: problem + solution = value. Ultimately this is what matters most - no value, no solution.

And once we have found a solution of value? Evolution.

To be continued…

The end of one story, is the beginning of many more. - unkown

Location: Victoria Square, Zetland, Sydney, Council of the City of Sydney, New South Wales, 2017, Australia

hot_tech RaDs | w2_thursday | hackfest

Posted by bo_hot on 31 December 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 1 January 2021.

To do good, you actually have to do something - Yvon Chouinard

Well today is the day, straightup hackfest. The team will spend the day developing a prototype ready to be tested tomorrow.

We break from the daily structure on this one and the team will break out into smaller groups/pairs to hack together a prototype based on our decision yesterday. This all has to happen in one day, so this is an exercise in effort estimation and making sure we don’t bite of more than we can chew. The goal isn’t to have a refined product, rather something we can use to test our Big Question…

Want us to prototype a solution for your biggest problem? tell us about it here »

away we go

Location: Victoria Square, Zetland, Sydney, Council of the City of Sydney, New South Wales, 2017, Australia

hot_tech RaDs | w2_wednesday | decide

Posted by bo_hot on 29 December 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 12 January 2021.

You cannot make progress, without making decisions - Jim Rohn

So, are you sick of reading me yet? Well, the good news is only two days to go. If you’ve been following along or read this far hopefully it’s been useful, or at the very least, tolerable.

Today we decide

I’m going to start by showing an image of how decisions are typically made by consensus.


The problem with this approach, is that all the regular voices are heard (typically also the loudest or most relentless ones), if you’re lucky, most people are ok to let the decision move forward (even if they don’t love it) and you end up most probably with a camel (a horse designed by a committee).

In short, it can be summed up like this..
more decisions
in the original version of this image there’s actually another ‘solution’ bubble at the end. However, it doesn’t always lead to a solution, which is a whole other issue in and of itself.

However, for our decide day, we’re going to focus on only one part of the process at a time, everyone gets heard equally (without needing to take the stage) and we decide together. So it ends up looking more like this…
better decisions

How we get there is a mix of individual thinking, keeping our ideas to ourselves and then voting without being influenced by voice volume. This day is taken straight out of the textbook, as the decision making process is really solid and should fit well with our team as well. It looks like this…

  1. Art museum: Solution sketches go onto our Jamboard for review
  2. Heat map: Review during our sole sessions, and use dot stickers to mark interesting parts.
  3. Speed critique: Quickly discuss the highlights of each solution, and use stickies to capture big ideas in our remix session
  4. Straw poll: Each person chooses one solution during async action, and votes for it with a dot sticker.
  5. Supervote: The Decider makes the final decision, with – you guessed it – more stickers. Then we review in our wrap.

And the decision is made.

This is a big day, as once we have a decision, we need to storyboard out all the winning ideas with each other. However, this will probably be done by the facilitator, before we move into the big day to prototype our ideas.

The group will wrap by running a quick divide and conquer so we know who is going to be taking on tomorrow, and it’s time to proto

Wishing your big questions were being decided on? Easy, Go here > so we can include you!

Location: Victoria Square, Zetland, Sydney, Council of the City of Sydney, New South Wales, 2017, Australia

hot_tech RaDs | w2_tuesday | sketch

Posted by bo_hot on 29 December 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 12 January 2021.

Drawing is exercise for a restless imagination - Tim Burton

Finally, it’s time to put some pen to paper and start to turns problems into solutions. I can almost hear a collective sigh of relief from some of the hot_tech members, ‘finally time to get hands on’.

Do you want us to sketch a solution to a problem you’re facing? Hit us up here »

For the sole search today, each of us will be undertaking a redux session. Basically a redux session is us o’oking further afield to collect ideas that inspire us toward our solution. We will then prepare these ideas to be shared in the remix session thought ‘Lightning Demos’.

In our remix session today we will be conducting Lightning Demos. IThrough a three minute tour, each member will share their sole search inspirations and focus on what’s cool and what’s the big idea that may be useful for our Big Question.

And then, for async action we will be putting pencils to paper (yep, actualy paper) and starting to sketch out our individual ideas for our end. Sketches can be simple or sensational, weird or wordy. The main goal is to get an idea into an easy to understand ina structured process for even the least artistic amongst us. It’s a simple as 1, 2, 3…ok, 4.

  1. Notes - You collect notes on all your inspirations and insights.
  2. Ideas - You turn those notes into ideas
  3. Crazy 8s - You sketch like crazy 8 images in 8 minutes
  4. You then choose the one you want to ‘sketch’ for the group and give it (or them) a cool name (which will be important later).

And then today we’re done, for tomorrow we decide!

crazy 8s
crazy 8’s

Location: Zetland, Sydney, Council of the City of Sydney, New South Wales, 2017, Australia