OpenStreetMap

HOT Board Special Election Statement

Posted by dkunce on 19 June 2015 in English.

HOT is still at a pivotal time in its growth. We haven’t fully put the events the past few board elections behind us. The old debates of what a ‘HOT project’ is versus what is HOT, the role and responsibilities of the board, and silly conflicts, still go on. HOT must grow out of this current adolescent phase if it is to become truly successful and sustainable. HOT is and will always be a mapping NGO. However, to get HOT to where it needs to be, it needs to be about more than skilled mappers and dedicated activators. HOT needs to improves its fundraising, administration, and visioning to become an accountable organization. I know that there has been some resistance to HOT growing as an organization and that there are those members that see HOT the NGO as being different from the HOT community. I understand the resistance but disagree, HOT the NGO and HOT the community should be the same thing for a variety of reasons, most importantly fundraising. More partners are counting on our work both during activations and normal times.

In my day-to-day professional life as the GIS lead for the American Red Cross, I work a lot with HOT, local OSM communities, governments, other NGOs, and private corporations to strengthen and build OSM communities. I’ve lead Red Cross GIS teams during several responses over the last couple of years including, Typhoon Haiyan, West Africa Ebola Outbreak, Malawi Floods, Typhoon Pam, and the recent Nepal Earthquake. When I asked the British Red Cross, HOT, and Medicine Sans Frontiers to come together to create the Missing Maps project, all jumped at the chance because of how much they like and support HOT. Missing Maps is a huge accomplishment for HOT. It allows HOT to engage with new stakeholders, local communities, and donors to accomplish HOT’s work. I’ve worked hard since joining the non-profit sector to lend my hand at strengthening HOT: founding Missing Maps, building technology to enable our work (Tasking Manager v2, OpenMapKit, OSM-Meta-API), fundraising for various projects, helping host and plan the first ever HOT Summit, representing HOT and Missing Maps to the media and at conferences, and working behind the scenes in the humanitarian sector to lead the adoption and use of OSM by humanitarian organizations.

My vision for HOT is a continuation and evolution of its current path. I want HOT to have a solid financial foundation that supports both technology and field projects, HOT helps guide other humanitarian organizations to adopt and use OSM, and the old animosities are replaced with a renewed passion and dedication to help HOT grow.

The key areas that I will focus on if elected to the board include:

  • Governance: Build upon the momentum created by existing HOT staff and working groups to manage and maintain the governance structures within HOT. This especially includes strengthening the rules around conflicts of interests and holding members and board members accountable or their actions.
  • Overhaul Board Terms of Reference: The existing HOT Board is required to oversee the daily management of HOT and does not have enough time to focus on creating and implementing a longer term vision. I will work to empower HOT staff to take a more active part in the daily decision-making process in line with how other NGOs function.
  • Partnerships: It is imperative that HOT build better partnerships before disasters. One of the main reasons the American Red Cross uses OpenStreetMap is due to the relationship built prior to, rather than during, a disaster. Pre-established relationships can strengthen the broader applications of HOT to other actors. I will develop and strengthen partnerships with humanitarian relief organizations so that OSM and HOT are embedded into their business operations.
  • Fundraising: HOT needs to secure unrestricted funding to support long term projects, technical infrastructure, and increased staff. Many organizations depend on HOT during times of crisis and even during normal operations.
  • OSMF: HOT should work to strengthen OSM Foundation to support the underlying infrastructure that it relies on. This includes helping OSMF establish more OSM chapters around the world.

During the normal election last year it was pointed out that I will have some Conflicts of Interest in my role as the GIS Lead for American Red Cross and as a potential board member. First let me state that I will be the first one to acknowledge those conflicts and excuse myself from those conversations. Yes my work overlaps a lot with HOT’s day to day. That is a good thing. It shows that partners such as the Red Cross value and care for the HOT community. While ARC has given HOT money in the past for a few small projects the real value of our contribution to HOT is in staff time. I have given tons of personal and work time to supporting HOT. The folks at ARC are very proud to be HOTties, we enjoy making things possible that would otherwise been very difficult such as the HOT Summit. As I have stated before I will recuse myself from any discussions concerning financial matters with HOT and ARC or Missing Maps. This follows not only good board practices but existing ARC and HOT rules.

I will be available on Mumble Monday (7/22 11am-12pm), Wednesday (7/24 10am-12pm), and Thursday (7/25 10am-12pm) USA Eastern Time Zone if you would like to stop by and ask me any questions. I encourage Pierre to be available during the same time so you can ask us both any questions you might have.

This election asks you to make a difficult choice. HOT could remain a small volunteer organization, run by individuals whose work with donors and international agencies—while well meaning—will be around small projects. It could remain mired in the politics of similar small NGOs, where debates over small issues keep the organization from focusing on growing. Or HOT could blossom into its full potential, with a board composed of professional mappers, humanitarians, fund-raisers, and leaders. HOT could scale to offer far more communities a wider range of services than we can now perform with our small base of trainers. I want to help HOT grow. I have the background, network, and management skills to contribute to that vision. It’s your choice. More debates or more impact.

Discussion

Comment from jonwit on 22 June 2015 at 18:02

Awesome post !!

I wonder how you think HOT can help out in disaster areas of places with governments that aren’t friendly with international organizations were maps can still make a difference. North Korea Famine/Drought or Syria

Comment from dkunce on 22 June 2015 at 18:26

Thanks.

I think that maps and open data have a huge role to play in areas of conflict and tough government situations. It all goes back to the core ethics of OSM, local knowledge always trumps remote knowledge. It is up to local community member how best to map their communities and even to map or not. I do hope that HOT is able to support those communities when they do decide to map themselves.

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