I am just finishing my first two-year board term for the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and am running for another two years. This diary is written to tell HOT voting members why, so that they can decide whether to vote for me or not…
Priorities for another term
Having spent the last couple of years meeting and talking to people, reading documentation, attending board meetings and discussing ideas and issues, I have a much better understanding of where we are strong as an organisation and should double down and where we are weak and perhaps need to focus more. These perspectives have some very pragmatic implications in terms of where I would prioritise my time if I were re-elected… I would like to take you through the top two of those priorities…
Firstly, I’d like to make sure that HOT strengthens the expertise and skills necessary at board level for an organisation of its size and ambition. Secondly, I’d like to contribute to a movement within HOT to reconnect the organisation with its members, creating more opportunities for meaningful contribution from the diverse communities they represent.
Strengthening our governance
On the priority number one, we have already started to take concrete steps towards recruiting an advisory board. This idea was first floated years ago and when I joined the board I was actually against it. I thought that it would move HOT away from its model of community governance. Now, I don’t - I think having a strong advisory board will allow our community-elected board to be more focused on leveraging data and mapping to support people in crisis and the HOT community itself.
We know that we have skills / knowledge gaps on the board - finance and legal being two obvious ones - and it is not surprising. HOT voting membership tends to attract mappers or techies or community organisers, rather than accountants and lawyers. I would like to see through the recruitment of the right people to the right advisory positions and work out how we structure ourselves and the work we have committed to doing, so that they can best contribute to HOT’s mission.
Changing how we engage as members
On priority two, I feel like the work done by the strategic working group last year was really great and that so many people turned up to contribute was excellent! However, beyond that piece of work and voting in elections like this, we are very quiet as a membership.
I feel strongly that if HOT is to remain community-led and open-first and to continue to hold voluntary contribution to be central to who we are, we need to change how we do things. These characteristics are just words if we as members feel less and less engaged or that there are less and less ways to contribute meaningfully.
I know that others feel the same and I would like to contribute to the work to reverse this trend and represent that work as a priority at board level.
Next two years
I believe I have served HOT well as a board member so far… I remain a proud humanitarian who sees the good that HOT, our partners and the wider OpenStreetMap community do in the field and an active member of the Missing Maps community in the UK. I believe we can do better at doing things differently as an NGO, bringing the value of open data, innovation and community to impact on serious humanitarian work.
Let’s talk about how and get working together on this.