My HOT Year

Posted by mikelmaron on 5 February 2014 in English (English).

We’ve just seen a phenomenal group of folks join, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. And along the way, we are reading excellent stories from the nominations and new members recounting their personal HOT history, wonderful to learn about new folks and familiar faces.

HOT has adopted a long awaited Code of Conduct, and that’s planned to be ratified as part of the upcoming Annual Meeting and Board Election. The Code makes clear how HOT membership operates, the rights and responsibilities that come with membership. Membership signifies another level of dedication to the incredible work of our community. One detail there is our expectation to share publicly our yearly contributions, for our quick growing and widely dispersed community, and for all partners and supporters, to have a window into our HOT lives.

At the end of each membership year, members will be asked to document their contributions to HOT over the past year, and their aspirations for the next

So here’s My HOT Year. It got kinda long.

HOT Board

My main role in HOT is as Board President. Part of that responsibility is to organize and chair the monthly meetings, with the support of the Secretary. Board meetings are for making salient points on issues, making decisions or voting as needed, and assigning actions to complete outside of the meeting. We also discuss and report and decide on straight forward issues over email and OpenAtrium continually. Our duties as Board Directors are above all to hold the fiduciary duty of the HOT, working closely with our Executive Director Kate Chapman. We have oversight over HOT’s finances and projects and fundraising. We help set strategic direction and draw up policy, to encapsulate as close to consensus as possible the operations, processes, and structures of HOT. We discuss emerging ideas and issues for the organization. We oversee membership processes. And we do this all while being active members of HOT. Yet it’s important to note, our Board responsibilities are quite distinct from other activities in HOT; just being a Board member takes a great deal of dedication and time. I so appreciate our Board Members whom have really taken on this major responsibility.

One of my main projects for the Board this year was leading the writing of the Code of Conduct. This was a major group effort, and I’m really proud of the results. Big thanks go to those that contributed words and comments, Russell Deffner, Katrina Engelsted, Jaakko Helleranta, Tim Waters, Kate Chapman, and Joseph Reeves. I’m especially happy that Russell’s efforts led to his joining as a HOT member.

Through the Board, I also took on responsibility to get the Tech Working Group up and rolling, holding regular scrum style meetings and getting our project management tools (otherwise known as a list of GitHub repos) in order. And before too long, was able to hand over to the capable hands of our new system administrator, Dražen Odobašić!

HOT at OpenGovHub

By “virtue” of being in DC, I’m the constant presence at our “world geodomination headquarters” in the OpenGovHub. We have lots of folks come through. HOTties, if you ever find yourself in DC and need a place to lay your laptop, you are so welcome. Less excitedly, I receive HOT’s snail mail, and occassionally deposit a check or scan some important mail for our admin Kristen Egermeier or “file it away”.

Many of HOT’s partners are based in DC, so I have regular contact, some planned some serendipitous, with good folks from State HIU, USAID, World Bank, American Red Cross, Peace Corps, Wilson Center, GWU, among others. This is often just catching up, but sometimes leads to substantial things for the Board and ED to consider, so I then share for deliberation.


Outside of the Board, I spend a bit of time on technial issues … though not as much as I’d like, it’s a lot of fun to get into our code.

State of the Map US allowed a group of us to get together and start coding for HOT, focused on upgrading and relaunching the HOT Website and adding iD support to the OSM Tasking Manager. That continued through the OSM Birthday Sprint, which was great to co-organize with Kathleen Danielson. The website relaunched in December with the Drupal muscle of Felix Delattre and Clara, and is already improved with multilingual support. Steve Kashis dove into the OSM Tasking Manager, and made immediate progress, a tribute to the clean software design laid out by Pierre Giraud. The iD developers were very supportive, adding parameters to support OSMTM needs. Just today, Pierre, with a little help from me, finished up the iD integration by automatically loading imagery from the OSMTM.

I’m excited about the tasking manager especially, and think there’s lots more it can be developed to do this coming year.

For LearnOSM, I facilitated improved documentation for translators. Daniel Joseph from the American Red Cross did an amazing job of synthesizing the process into something approachable for newcomers to GitHub.

Finally, I collaborated with Lars Bromley from UNOSAT and Edouard Legoupil from UNHCR, to import Zaatari refugee camp into OSM. This was a fairly interesting technical challenge, in that it involves synchronizing updates over time. And a solid example of collaboration across agencies within OpenStreetMap. Folks like Lars and Edouard, working within humanitarian agencies, are doing the truly heroic work of moving mapping mountains, freeing data for humanitarian benefit.



State of the Map US was a highlight. Schuyler Erle led a presentation on HOT, with contributions from Amy Noreuil from our partner USAID OTI, then EUROSHA volunteer and now HOT member Jorieke Vyncke, and surpise guest Presler Jean from Haiti. This led to a great Birds of Feather session.

I did less travelling last year. But one place I did get to was Democratic Republic of Congo, and got to finally meet Claire Halleux, who’s about as bad ass as they come. It’s a small mapping community in DRC, and we had some interesting meetings with the UN while I was there. Claire, we still need to import MONUC’s road data!

Peace Corps

Closer to home, I connected with the Innovation Team at the Peace Corps, who are keen to see how Peace Corps volunteers can incorporate OSM into their service. We held an event and editing session at Peace Corps HQ, which led to a piece in the Peace Corps magazine. They’ve continued with editing competitions, and I’ve made 3 presentations/interviews remotely to trainings in Senegal.

Finally in the media, represented HOT and OSM in two excellent magazine pieces, in Wired and New Scientist. During Haiyan, I stepped for a couple interviews on NPR and PRI.

Next Year

Next year is now. With a growing community and more responsibility than ever, HOT can do more and will be called on to do more. For me, I want to focus on more clear ways for people to contribute to HOT; mapping and coding definitely, but in other organizational ways as well, in translation, in coordination. That means really good documentation of our processes and policies, a really clear understanding of our resources and how we work with the broader OSM community and partners, and better communication within our rapidly growing community.

Communication can be hard. We’ve had our share of hard knocks in communication this year. The source is often simple misunderstanding. If ever something arises which concerns you about HOT, I am personally always accessible to listen and share my point of view. Please do get in touch.

We also need to work on our Bylaws. The Code of Conduct process, and membership renewals, showed gaps in how we want to operate, and our present legal structure. This will be hard work, and we’ll need some serious time and effort on it.

That all sounds serious, but seriously, after all, HOT is the most fun and valuable thing I do. Connecting with this global community of map nerd do-gooders, and moving serious mountains ourselves, seriously changing the world, HOT absolutely, thank you for the year, the years, and the year to come.

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