russdeffner's Diary

Recent diary entries

10 Year OSM Usiversary

Posted by russdeffner on 13 October 2020 in English (English).

Ten years ago today, I created this user profile!

Although it was not my first profile, the other one I only did a few edits before forgetting the password and a couple months later created this one. I since found that other password but instead of trying to ‘revive’ or switch-over, I chose to have the sysadmin folks delete the slightly older profile and continued on with this one. Hence, celebrating a few months late :D

However, rather than just celebrating the fact that I’ve been contributing to OSM for 10 years+, I will also use this as an opportunity to fulfill my voluntary obligations as a Voting Member of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) to summarize my contributions (since my last summary in January of 2019) and aspirations for the coming year. Over the almost 2 years now, things have changed quite dramatically. You might think ‘because of Audacious?’ or ‘because of HOT launching a fully funded Disaster Services program?’ - which yes, and yes; but much more so because I got married, had a baby and have been living on the other side of the planet (mostly due to the COVID situation) since my last update - yep, time flies when you’re having fun :)

To the business of being a voting member of HOT. Just recently I started the transition away from being a multifaceted contractor working with the HOT Community & Partnerships team (mostly related to Missing Maps), consulting with our Technology and Innovation team on version 4 of the Tasking Manager, continuing to have a significant focus as Project Manager on the AI-Assisted Roads project as well as being the sole staff assigned to Disaster Services (for just a few hours per week unless there was a response) - to soon being fully focused on Disaster Services as the Disaster Response Coordinator for HOT. Meaning I will be focused on making sure that when there is an event that HOT should respond to, that we do as quickly and efficiently as possible, that we do everything in our power to reach a successful conclusion, and that we no longer leave communities digging out from a mess of data (kindheartedly) dumped in their area; on top of dealing with the real life issues left in the wake of disaster.

Of course that is going to take a lot of support and help, so I am happy to say there will be a handful of other staff across the globe helping to recruit volunteers, monitor for incidents and stand up responses as they are able. Some concentrating on a regional scale, but a few others with me looking at things globally. We will also continue to rely heavily on volunteers - not just to map, but to help ensure high quality data is generated from the get-go; local communities are directly engaged throughout the entire process; and every aspect of coordination is open, transparent and has the global community engaged (as is practical in these swift moving disaster incidents). If you are interested in being involved, feel free to join us in the HOT Slack #disaster-mapping channel and/or jump right into the training at the HOT Training Center

For my fellow members, of course I will still be engaged in governance; as most of you know I was the lead author of the most recent Bylaws revision to formalize our practice of using Ballots for our elections - which is now being put to the test in the vacant Board seat election. I have many more things I would like to see improved with our governance, so expect to see me at the next Governance Working Group meeting. I also want to see newer members getting involved with our procedures, practices and performance so am happy to have a chat with any of you about our legal doctrine. Leave me a note here, Slack, or via email.

Lots has happened over the last couple of years, I’m sure I left out a ton of important things, but wanted to keep this fairly short so folks may actually read it…

Cheers to 10 Years!


2018 In Review

Posted by russdeffner on 2 January 2019 in English (English).

2019 is starting as busy and hectic as 2018 ended, so this will be a very brief review of 2018 as a Voting Member of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) but more importantly a globally active OSM contributor.

The Big Important Stuff

  • AI-Assisted Roads: Since the tail-end of 2017, I have been managing a team for HOT based in our Jakarta office that is working on the Facebook AI-Assisted Roads project. This has been an amazing project, (personally for getting to work with the team in-person for a week) but is also a great collaboration and use-case for machine learning in mapping/OSM.
  • Disaster Response: In 2018, HOT activated to coordinate or support coordination for 24 disaster incidents. Our next biggest year, in terms of number of recorded responses (obviously there’s always some small incidents that we never hear about or get involved with, but local OSM-ers map so we don’t know to count those), was 2010 - the year HOT was founded - with 10 responses. This shows our ability to react quicker, have the capacity to often coordinate multiple responses at once, and that we’re doing a better job documenting responses we are involved in (and maybe that there were just a lot of disasters in 2018).
  • HOT Governance: There is still a lot of work to be done, but I remain an active participant in HOT governance. Most notably in 2018, I committed to helping write the first Strategic Plan which we just finished drafting on December 28th - now it’s off to the Board and Executive Director for review and if all goes well - to membership vote during the Annual Meeting.

The Fun Stuff

  • State of the Map - Milan: This was not only a great conference, but it was the first time a lot of the staff that was hired in 2018 were able to meet in person (including me getting to meet Wulan, who is the local supervisor for the roads team in Jakarta) and kicked-off some really great friendships. We were also able to do some great work there, getting together to discuss Tasking Manager development and create new connections in our ever growing network of humanitarians.
  • FOSS4G & the HOT Summit: Honestly, that was a bit long to be on the road together with a huge contingent of our staff and community. But, it was maybe the most productive conference(s) I’ve ever been to. Not to mention the World Bank and Tanzania being such amazing hosts!
  • State of the Map - US: I was maybe a bit burnt out on conferences, etc. by the time SotM-US rolled around. But, I had applied for the Executive Director position, so figured I best be there just in case :) Although I was not offered the position, it was great to briefly chat with Jay and wish her and OSM-US the best of luck in the coming years; as I also have local aspirations…

The Crazy Stuff

  • Back home in Colorado, we have now been working on importing the entire Denver metro region’s buildings - around 1.4 million of them - for over a year. But Denver’s addressing is wonky, so we’ve gone back and forth about including addresses and basically have landed at ‘where there’s no weirdness’ we will, and maybe need Mapillary or OpenStreetCam imagery (or field survey) where there is.
  • A few month back we starting really shifting gears at HOT from short-term, here-and-now, kind of vision to developing longer-term vision and plans (hence the strategy mentioned above). This got me thinking that it’s been 3 years since we developed the Activation (Disaster Mapping) Protocol and training curriculum. So one of my focuses at the end of the year, and will continue to be going into this year, is reviewing and updating both the protocol and the training courses in the Activation Working Group, which I co-chair.

There’s a ton of other stuff, as rarely a day goes by that I don’t do something involving HOT or OSM, but I will leave it at that for now. If you have a special memory from working with or meeting me in 2018, please share in the comments!

Happy New Year and Happy Mapping!


Russell Deffner, HOT & OSM-Colorado&Wyoming (now including MapTime MileHigh)

2016-2017 Recap

Posted by russdeffner on 24 March 2018 in English (English).

It has been a few years since I last posted what I have been up to as far as my Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) membership involvement as well as my personal contributions to OpenStreetMap (OSM). This time I thought it would be easiest to just do a brief overview by category: ## The Homefront: Forest (and other) Mapping in Colorado My goal of getting Park County, Colorado mapped continues to fall off schedule 😊 – I did get more done, just was side-tracked when a few of us started making a real push to map the forested parts of our state. Most of 2017 was focused on humanitarian mapping, so there is much more work I would still like to do locally. However, although it has been delayed on several accounts, we are so very close to starting the Denver Planimetrics import. ## Disaster Response: Activation Coordination for HOT There were lots of disasters over the last couple of years. Some notables were: Floods in Sri Lanka and Peru, a string of Earthquakes in 2016 (Indonesia, Japan, Ecuador), Hurricane Matthew, a ‘smaller’ outbreak of Ebola in the DRC and lots more that just didn’t require or garner a formal response. Two, I will expand upon…

  • Cyclone Winston: Although we did not elevate this to a full Activation, many of us spent a lot of time mapping Fiji. This is where we discovered the ‘cane train’ and how that tiny gauged rail is so hard to see. I felt it was a lot of great island mapping and now a large portion of Fiji has good road network and buildings (ie. Basemap for response).
  • Fall 2017 Disaster Response: If you could say there was a ‘highlight’ in HOT disaster response over these two years; this is it. For a while, I think it was literally a new disaster declaration every week. But somehow, we just kept taking them on and managing them well, given the circumstance. Working directly with FEMA for the Puerto Rico response and being that bridge between the local OSM community and response organizations is exactly what we prepare for and was successful with this response. Of course, we wanted to be able to provide more and get OSM into more people’s ‘toolkit’ but we at least got into the conversation and continue working with U.S. response organizations to further solidify the usefulness of crowd-sourcing in emergency response and recovery.

Community Building: The Wildest Places on Earth

  • Colorado & Wyoming: After some initial success having mapathons with the University of Wyoming, we went ahead and started a meet-up as part of our current OSM-Colorado plan. It hasn’t been very successful (yet), but WY is the least populated state in the U.S. so I think patience is key on growing that community. I hope (a) highly motivated individual(s) in Laramie or Cheyenne show some interest in hosting events or we’ll just keep trying to do one or two a year. There was a lot of action around Colorado meetups, I made some connections with OSM/Maptime Western Slope and started being more involved with the Maptime Boulder and MileHigh groups. I think Colorado is starting to get some very sustainable traction as a ‘micro community’ in the U.S.
  • Mongolia Connection: Most important to me was meeting Tunga from the Ger Community Mapping Center (GCMC) when she gave a presentation at Colorado State University in 2016. About a year later, I started helping one of their volunteers – based in Denver – organize mapathons as part of the GCMC’s microgrant program awarded by HOT. It is a very neat circle to be helping Mongolians promote OSM in Colorado after going to promote and teach OSM in Mongolia in 2013. And there’s the whole sister city relation with Ulaanbaatar and Denver, etc. I’m so happy this connection is continuing to promote community in and in-between our mappers.

Project Work: How I Paid the Bills

  • School Safety Maps: While I had some downtime from HOT project work in 2016, I was privileged to help ERCM Consultants with designing some emergency response/campus safety maps for a school near Washington D.C. This is in relation to some non-mapping related consulting I did for The “I love U Guys” Foundation who design and publish (for free) school (and other facilities) emergency response and recovery protocols.
  • End Malaria: In late 2016 I was selected to manage the Malaria Elimination campaign for HOT. This was a multi-partnership collaboration to map all buildings in a roughly 600,000 square kilometers area spread over 9 countries using a variety of tools like Tomnod, Mapswipe and large-scale validation techniques. This work has led to a continued partnership with several of the organizations and HOT will most likely continue to work on the eradication of Malaria until it is gone.
  • Indonesia Roads: There was not much of a gap between finishing up the final reports on my malaria contracts to starting on a new project. In late 2017 I was selected to manage the project to complete the road network in Indonesia. This has been great for me as some of the same mappers that were on our global team for malaria elimination are part of this project as well. It helps show our commitment to the map of Indonesia but also shows how much work it takes to truly complete the basemap of a country.

Events: Where I have Been

  • State of the Map Seattle July 2016: I’ll just say this may forever be one of my personal all time favorite conferences. Did get a scholarship so stayed in the dorms which may have added to the experience, but overall just had a great time.
  • HOT Summit and State of the Map Brussels September 2016: These I went on my own dime; really enjoyed Brussels and there was a great turnout of HOT friends with the Summit attached.
  • Missing Maps Gathering and HOT Summit September 2017: Last year we did the Summit ‘solo’ from another larger conference. The days before I was one of the HOT ‘delegation’ for the Missing Maps gathering which was a great work session and felt we came away with a better vision for the collaboration. The Summit itself was amazing and I would say is maybe my second favorite conference experience.
  • GIS In The Rockies September 2017: I thought about going the whole time, but in the end was too busy and just did our JOSM training workshop. We plan on doing it again this year but probably a longer session with a small fee going to help pay for OSM-CO/WY meetup.
  • State of the Map Boulder October 2017: Of course I was going to be at State of the Map Boulder. This was a great boost to our local community and think much of the action we are seeing in the meetup groups, etc. directly stems from the OSM energy at SotM-US.

Greetings OpenStreetMap-pers,

This is a summary of a few key topics from the OSM-Colorado Meetup yesterday. I was really excited to have this handful of folks together; it felt more like an ‘OSM super group’ meeting than any of the meetups I have organized; reminded me of some of the early OSM-Colorado events I attended back in 2010-2011. Although I think we all had some kind of mobile device/laptop/etc. no one ‘fired anything up for show and tell’ but instead we really just had a great time hashing-out some of the major issues and opportunities around OpenStreetMap in Colorado, USA.

One of the most significant items is a wonderful opportunity to work directly with the Denver Regional Council of Governments to explore importing a huge volume of data that they have purchased and are releasing as Public Domain. We are still very much in the ‘exploratory’ stage, and have started a wiki-page. There are so many ‘side-topics’ that come up with this discussion: how to conflate with existing data, perform import(s) when/where appropriate, make it community driven, frequency that the data will be updated, how to maintain and update when there is need, and a whole lot more. Stay tuned to that page and/or the import mailing list as we begin to ramp up the effort.

We also discussed this year’s MapCamp! – Poudre Canyon. The High Park Fire in 2012 and Floods in 2013 reeked some havoc in and around Poudre Canyon, so although I have been told that some of the camping/recreation is still closed; I think it’s an even better reason to ‘head up north’ so we can do some surveying and get OSM up-to-date with the changes caused by those incidents. However, we might be looking further ‘up the canyon’ towards Cameron Pass or maybe Pingree Park area for camping. We also discussed timing and it seems like mid-August is what we are looking at (i.e. between SotM-US and SotM-International, but before it starts getting cold up high; and June seemed pretty full already for most of us).

Outside of those two ‘major topics’, we generally discussed what people want to see out of the meetup group; types of events, etc. We have some great ‘competition’/friends in Colorado, like GeoSpatial Amateurs, MapTime! Chapters in Boulder and Denver/MileHigh, and tons of other mapping/GIS/Coding/etc. groups; so we really want to ‘find our niche’ and not ‘step on toes’ with other groups. In my opinion that means focusing more on mapping and data collection versus presentations; also sticking fairly strictly to ‘just’ OSM versus more general mapping platforms and applications fairly well covered in the other groups.

We also discussed some of the more ‘interesting’/controversial things like the tagging of National Forests/Parks/Monuments/etc. It seemed a general agreement that boundary=protected_area with appropriate protect_class=* is the better tagging schema; but there is reluctance to make this wide-scale change as we understand this is not rendered yet. So with the folks on hand, this and several other of our conversations went pretty deep into how all these things work and are related. I talked about my favorite OSM feature, South Park (the real geographic feature vs. cartoon town) and how the conversation on talk-us spurred some motivation in me to further work on the natural features (forest and grassland mostly) around me – which I started years ago, but there’s a lot of forest around here :)

All and all, it was a great meetup and I think the momentum around OSM in general is fueling a renewed desire to make OSM-Colorado one of the most active ‘micro-chapters’ in the United States. Please feel free to join us!

2015 - Year in Review

Posted by russdeffner on 2 January 2016 in English (English).

Hello fellow OpenStreetMap-pers,

As a Voting member of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) we ask each other to post something about how our year went and what we want to work on in the New Year. There are currently 84 of us, so it’s nearly impossible to keep up with everyone and look for opportunities to collaborate and support one another. 2015 was an incredible year for me personally and reflecting back to my aspirations for the year, I can say that it was a success for what I had hoped to achieve for HOT, but maybe not so much accomplishing my local mapping objectives.

To continue on that note and before getting into the HOT specifics; although I did not do as much mapping in Park County, Colorado as I wanted, it was a great year of activities with OpenStreetMap-Colorado. Along with a handful of fun ‘mappy-hour/geo-beers’, a few significant things occurred; one was largely thanks to the great folks from the Geospatial Centroid at Colorado State University; and that was gaining some traction building a community around OpenStreetMap in Fort Collins. This was especially fun for me as CSU is my alma-mater and I was able to see some old friends and one of my favorite professors during a few events this year, some of us actually fought wildland fire together many moons ago.

Another significant local event was our first (annual?) OSM MapCamp! This was basically another crazy idea a few of us had thrown around for a couple years now, but I just (kind of late) decided, let’s do it! And although only 4 of us went, I actually think it was a huge success as a pilot for more ‘hands-on’ field mapping in rural parts of the US, as well as a ton of fun. I was also happy to represent HOT in a panel on Citizen Science at the Understanding Risk (UR) Boulder conference. This year I’ll continue organizing for OSM-CO but won’t make a ‘resolution’ to complete any particular mapping.

This year I was elected to a second term as Chairperson for the Voting Members of HOT, the bad news is it did not get any easier, however more progress was made. I bounced around leading and helping recruit leads and all-told most of our Working Groups had a very successful year. The Communication WG published the first two editions of the HOT Newsletter, we finally got the Fundraising WG ‘off the ground’ and along with facilitating grant vetting and application ran the first major HOT crowd-funding campaign, lots of progress was made reviewing and perfecting the update and translation workflow of LearnOSM by the Training WG, the Governance WG continued working on and was able to present a revision of the HOT Bylaws, which were recently adopted by the membership; and most significant to me – the Activation Working Group met the challenge of responding to several significant disasters and when HOT was awarded a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to improve our ability to respond, the community chose building an Activation Curriculum as one of three priorities for those funds.

When the opportunity for the Activation Curriculum Specialist was presented, I applied and was selected for this position in mid-April. I posted about the project before, so to not repeat the same info here, I’ll just say again how incredible this project has been and how honored I am to have been able to meet and work with so many wonderful people because of it. The Activation Protocol and Training Center that we created during the project are still very new and there is an incredible amount of work remaining before I think it will ‘pay off’ and both the volunteer coordinators and HOT as an organization fully receive the benefit of what we created. Although my contract has ended, I am still very active and intend to keep working on this as part of the Activation (and Training) Working Groups.

This November was also the end of our formal participation in the Mapping Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia project with the World Bank, City of Ulaanbaatar and Mongolian University of Science and Technology. A special thanks to the HOT interns in UB, it has been a real pleasure to assist (and mostly just be witness to) the development of the OpenStreetMap community in Mongolia. In early 2013 I would have never imagined that two years later I would have great friends, and feel strangely at home, in Mongolia. A third trip while I’m still (relatively) young is definitely in order.

And to my aspirations for the New Year… honestly, I’m anxious about 2016. Towards the end of the year I started to feel I could be more productive, and maybe be happier, if I was ‘just’ a regular-old voting member of HOT. Maybe it’s a case of ‘the grass looks greener on the other side’ but as Chairperson it seems (maybe rightfully at this stage in our organization’s development) the vast majority of the time and energy I have to volunteer is taken by running elections, ‘putting out fires’ and to be a bit blunt – arguing over the rules of the organization versus fixing and/or enforcing them; not ‘facilitating member business’ as I hope it will be in the near future. So, we have a few more months to consider our next Board and Chair election (with newly adopted 2 year Board terms) but no matter if I run and/or elected for any position, I will continue supporting HOT with my focus mainly on further developing the Activation Curriculum and with a bit of luck, maybe more time actually mapping.

Wishing everyone a Mappy New Year!


Hello OpenStreetMappers,

I just wanted to tell everyone what a pleasure it was to fulfill the Activation Curriculum Specialist opportunity for the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) over roughly the last half-a-year. A bit of cut-paste-paraphrase from project docs: ‘The project was one of three priorities the community selected to fulfill a grant awarded by the Hewlett Foundation in order to improve HOT’s ability to achieve its mission, inspired by the response of the community during the West Africa Ebola Epidemic.’ What is always most special to me is meeting and working with other OSM/HOT enthusiasts – especially in person. One aspect of the Activation Curriculum project that was not certain in the beginning was that it would include leading workshops on three continents; I could not be more honored to have had this experience.

The project launched in late April with the ‘Activation Curriculum Sprint’; a 3 day workshop in Washington D.C. attended by 8 core HOT community members. These were also the 3 days prior to the first HOT Summit; somewhere between then and State of the Map – New York I lost track of exactly how many HOT voting members, board, staff and of course the 100s of other HOT/OSM community members and partners I was able to meet in person. The summer then seemed to just disappear; I had a few fun outings, including OSMCO MapCamp! but it was mostly just sleeves up working on the project. In the end we produced the HOT Activation Protocol and Training Center to organize and most importantly, start providing training to those volunteers who coordinate Disaster Mapping for HOT.

Again, what is more exciting to me, and what was only a potential extension at the beginning of the project was having some in-person workshops to ‘beta test’ the training. I can honestly say that there was just not enough time to have a ‘perfect training workshop’ (and simulation added toward the end) ready but I actually think in the long-run it was probably best for the project how the workshops turned out. First we needed to identify two locations where we could fairly easily bring HOT community members together. One was quite obvious, since HOT has an office and staff in Jakarta, Indonesia; and the other location chosen was Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; where HOT currently has a community building project/partnership, Dar Ramani Huria.

Almost as soon as we announced that we were organizing the workshop in Dar, our partners at the World Bank basically gave ‘an offer we could not refuse’ – that being to conduct our workshop as part of, and have our workshop participants attend, the first ever Africa Open Data Conference. This limited the time we had to conduct the training and Activation simulation to roughly ½ day each. However, it gave us 5 days together as a group to discuss all kinds of HOT things and ultimately helped complete and improve some key components of the training and simulation before the workshop in Jakarta. Not to forget being able to attend a great conference and create connections among Open advocates from all around the region.

Side note: In between Tanzania and Jakarta, I took a little vacation to Mongolia with a quick meeting/OSM meet and greet with the HOT interns in Ulaanbaatar then toured through the Gobi desert.

For the second Activation Workshop we had much more time dedicated to the training and simulation over 3 days; plus the improvements made to the training center and simulation. This time I think we were able to get a more realistic/collaborative simulation and further explore what needs to happen in the next iteration of the training center and how we might do more simulations, live and/or virtually, in the future. All good things must come to an end and after being on the road for a few weeks with too many hours on a plane to want to remember, I was ready to get home; but it’s always hard to leave another great time spent with amazing people in the HOT/OSM community.

Thank you everyone involved in the project and part of this incredible journey,


In follow-up to my last post: HOT 2014 Review, here is a brief post regarding my aspirations for 2015. Most of which are related to my Voting Membership in the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, but some are mostly personal goals.

  • I intend to run for Chairperson for the Voting Members of HOT again; as described in my 2014 review, it was a bit tougher than I anticipated and I personally had a rough year so I feel that I came up short compared to what I wanted to see happen this year. However, I’m still dedicated to the work and maybe a bit more realistic in what I can accomplish this coming year. (Will save a more thorough ‘campaign’ statement until the election draws more near)
  • Whether or not I am re-elected as Chairperson, I will continue to be involved in multiple HOT Working Groups. Currently I feel most helpful and dedicated to the Governance WG, probably followed closely by the Communication WG, but still think it important to participate in all of them as much as I am able (we definitely need more people in all the wgs).
  • Specific to the Governance WG and the governance of HOT, it’s on my current agenda to work on a catalog of all the HOT policy and guidance documents; we’ve done a lot of work creating these, but we have not done a good job of making sure they are easy to reference. As part of, or a continuation of that, I expect to spend many, many hours over the next year reviewing, recommending, and possibly amending our policies to be more in line with practice and the strategy developed by our Board and Executive Directors.
  • Personally, I’d like to ‘complete’ Park County, Colorado – mapping around ‘home’ is what starting my love for OpenStreetMap. I’d say I’m about 75% done with cleaning up the TIGER mess and maybe 50% of buildings and about 25% of landuse/natural polygons. I guess I should specify that ‘complete’ being what I can do by armchair, longer-term I will get to addresses and other details.
  • Of course if things go well, I’ll attend the State of the Map – US conference again this year; hopefully we’ll conduct the first HOT summit (and I’ll be able to attend) this year – and at least a few OSM-Colorado meetups (trying to help plan one in Fort Collins in the next couple months).

Bring on the New Year!

Russell Deffner

Chairperson for the Voting Members

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

HOT 2014 Review

Posted by russdeffner on 1 December 2014 in English (English).

Greetings, this is a brief recap of my contributions to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) in 2014.

In February 2014 I was nominated and accepted as a Voting Member of HOT and in March I was elected as the Chairperson for the Voting Members.

At the end of March, as some of you well know, we began an Activation to assist Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), aka Doctors Without Borders, with the Ebola crisis in West Africa, see for details. I assisted the Activation Coordinators at the beginning of the Activation by updating that wiki page for about the first month, as well as completing a handful of mapping tasks. I also remotely contributed to the Map Lesotho Mapathon in July.

As Chairperson, my focus was less on the mapping, and more on the ‘behind-the-scenes’ operations of HOT. I attempted to assemble the Voting Members for an ‘annual meeting’ twice, but was unable to get a quorum (at the time a majority) of our members. This was obviously a problem and after many meetings and conversations it became fairly clear that with a worldwide membership, even meeting electronically, would be difficult.

So I shifted my efforts to helping re-ignite the HOT Working Groups, especially the Governance WG. Although I also participated in the Activation WG, Training WG, Community WG, Communication WG, and attended a few Technical WG meetings; I’m going to focus on the achievements of the Governance WG here. Our first priority was to address the issue(s) of assembling our membership to hold legitimate meetings in order to conduct business. We decided our best course of action would be to ease the quorum requirement; the alternative would have been to start removing members (which would have been an extremely difficult and much longer process). In order to do so, we needed to get a majority of members to assemble in order to ratify a change to the bylaws. So first, we drafted and proposed Proxy Rules which were approved by the Board of Directors to use for a Special Meeting of the Voting Members to adopt an amendment to our Bylaws changing the quorum to ¼ of our members – which the Gov WG also drafted.

This culminated in our first ever meeting of the Voting Members, on October 16th, where a majority of us were present or represented by a proxy; i.e. able to conduct business. The meeting was specific to ratifying the quorum clause of the Bylaws and that was approved. Although I had high hopes to accomplish more in my first year as Chair, I am pleased with the progress we made as this should make future meetings of the membership much easier to conduct. Now the Governance WG will set its sights on the (quickly) approaching new member nominations and HOT election cycle.

As a side note, I also had to address an issue with several members regarding how we speak to and respect each other and hope I brought enough of a resolution that no further disciplinary action is required. Also throughout the year I continued to support our OSM community in Mongolia, see for the backstory and spoke at the University of Colorado on the subject in February.


Russell Deffner

Chairperson for the Voting Members

The [Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team] (

Just a quick note while changing planes in Seattle…

I’m so honored and excited to have been selected to join Severin Menard in Mongolia. Severin has been in UlaanBaatar setting things up and Monday we’ll begin teaching and coordinating OSM mapping in UB. Stay tuned to the HOT network for more…

Happy Mapping, =Russ

I hadn’t been planning a complete armchair-micro-mapping-makeover of Colorado State University, but it was one of those things, it began by surfing the map/data in Colorado ‘hunting’ newbies (just to say hello and invite them to OSM-Colorado - and found myself admiring the good work done by our rival Buffaloes (CU) on mapping the Boulder campus(es); well I decided I’m gonna do you one better…

So, with love (it’s a friendly rivalry – I have Buff family), I think I’ve now put CSU on the map (better). Of course you’re free to have your own opinions, but could this be the ‘best’ mapped campus in the US? You’re also free to leave me comments, I’d gladly view other well mapped campuses; here is the general location of CSU on OSM

Some details in case folks are interested in some of the ‘stranger’ things in my micro-mapping style.

  • First, I try to use the entire gambit of transportation tags to best show what mode(s) of transportation should be using that ‘trail’; this is a campus with a strict ticketing policy for biking, etc. where you aren’t allowed. Therefor you’ll see I used highway=pedestrian, area=yes to represent the large ‘plaza-like’ (including The Plaza) areas that are generally ‘dismount zones’, then as a good micro-mapper should I broke the cycleways off the streets (i.e. removed cycleway=lane) and created new ways for them, so you’ll see along some streets ‘parallel’ cycleways and footways (the sidewalks) with a cycleway the sidewalks should be pretty much walking only, hence highway=footway tag, except where bikes need/often use the same ‘trail’ then I used highway=path (i.e. cycleway=bikes only, footway=walking only, path=combo)
  • After getting into mapping, I realized it is my 10 year graduation anniversary, and a lot has changed around campus (and my memory is fading – I rarely make it up that way anymore, and it’s probably going on 3 years since my last visit to FC, probably 6-7 to campus); so a lot I had to pretty much ‘armchair’ map, and some things like the areas of the ‘plaza’ under the Clark building (and especially the Natural Sciences building) I had to guesstimate/try my best to remember how it looks under there, so those will probably need fixed up by survey or someone with better memory/more recent visit.
  • Lastly, as it’s been so long, etc. points of interest such as eateries, facilities, etc. will need added; maybe I’ll make a special visit someday, but it is a rather large campus and it might take an army (hmm… yes, Rams, where the heck are the Spatial Information students… I’ll have to reach out to some of my old profs, I have talked to one of them in the last few years…)

That being said, CSU is where my love for mapping began, so in turn, I spent somewhere around 30-40 hours (who’s counting) editing the Main Campus (and Hughes Stadium) of Colorado State University; I’m proud to be a CSU Ram Alumni!


Location: River Rock Cohousing, Fort Collins, Larimer County, Colorado, 80521, United States

It’s been a fairly good weekend; my side of the divide has received some actual soaking rains (of course scattered/typical CO afternoon ‘monsoons’ also with hail and lightning) for several days now. Although it’s not quite the same story on the western slope and the call for mapping continues; see

I also hit 1000 edits today, or what I think should more accurately be called/is changesets; I think a better milestone is having edited 500K nodes (which I’m around 350). Anyway, I digress…

Just wanted to chart a few things:

  • I still have on the agenda, a quick recap of SOTM-US (and the follow-up in Denver); maybe just another diary entry.

  • Now that I’ve pretty much done all I can to help HOT create the Guide and Code, I starting helping the Activation working group, first by attending the meeting the other day; and of course I volunteered to help do something; so I’ll be working with Andrew Buck on humanitarian mapping project (HMP) ‘templates’ (as HMP’s basically have to come first), hopefully we’ll have something in a few weeks; ready to deploy by basically anyone (more to come).

  • And because I finally think I can relax a bit on the CO fire mapping situation, I can start working on documenting it. I’m not quite sure what medium I want to use, but expect it to be pretty directly pro OSM/HOT; but professional (maybe a bit salesman-ish) and most importantly, hopefully it will help gain interest in OSM for emergency use (obv. with a wildfire lean).

Location: Mineral County, Colorado, 81130, United States

Got the immediate area around the Bluebell Fire burning near Brook Forest (Evergreen), Colorado pretty well mapped. Also sounds like firefighters have a good feeling they’ll get this one contained quickly.

Location: Brook Forest, Jefferson County, Colorado, 80439, United States

For those of you in Colorado, or passing through, or just interested; our local community is fantastic! No doubt there was a bit of momentum loss when the Coast’s moved to the PNW, and I was totally swamped last summer with our terrible fire season; but we managed to keep rumbling along. JimmyRocks moving here gave a nice boost and we had a great group show up for the Spring Editathon, quite a few new faces have begun to appear including folks from the NPS - can’t wait to hear Mamata’s talk at SOTM-US - I hope they’re contemplating our idea of mapping parties at national parks - let us in free and we’ll map ;) - and all the sudden it seems we’ve got all these great ideas for meetups beyond the norm; we’re going to have a SOTM-Denver (basically a recap for those who can’t make it to San Fran) and what I’m really excited about, a Map/Camp-ing party later in the summer/fall. Oh, and it was a small but awesome meetup last weekend; the first event with the Coast’s back in town, welcome home Hurricane!

We’d love to see more faces, so don’t hesitate to join or even if you just want to see what we’re up to, visit:

Cheers - hope to see/meet you at SOTM-US or a Colorado mapping event, =Russ

P.S. Any Utah folks want to help plan a (probably very future) Moab Map/Camp-ing party? I love that place and it’s been too long since I visited.

Location: Park County, Colorado, United States

False Move

Posted by russdeffner on 1 March 2013 in English (English).

Hey all, I’m still in Bailey but ‘moved’ (at least my user profile) towards the middle of Park County. Starting getting in the thick of the TIGER mess toward the southern edge of the county and wanted to see if any folks are located down that way. Even referencing the TIGER 2012 data, there is no way to be 100% sure on street names, etc. without local knowledge.

Location: Park County, Colorado, United States

Burland, CO

Posted by russdeffner on 5 September 2012 in English (English).

So, after messing around mapping Uganda I was inspired to try and make the area around home as close to 100% mapped as possible. Not necessarily addresses, etc. but 100% land-cover (not zoning/administrative) but looking at imagery and creating a ‘raw’ “this is what is on the ground” map. I started with simple/small polygons for ‘heavily’ forested areas basically coming off the administrative boundary for Pike National Forest, but that didn’t really work the way I imagined and also would have been extremely tedious, so I started over with a larger polygon delineated by 285, 126 and the South Platte River - made this landuse=forest and then used relations to ‘insert’ meadows, rocks, etc. I tried doing a complex relationship where the aforementioned forest was the outer polygon with residential as an inner polygon hoping to make forest/meadow/etc. inside the residential areas part of the outer polygon - didn’t work, not sure why; seemed a multi-multi-polygon relationship isn’t behaving intuitively. Anyway, just finished up Burland, so please feel free to check it out and give me feedback.

Location: Burland, Bailey, Park County, Colorado, United States

Red Cross and H.O.T.

Posted by russdeffner on 17 August 2012 in English (English).

So as an American Red Cross Volunteer, I got word of the collaborative project between H.O.T., ARC, and Uganda Red Cross. I’ve known about H.O.T. for sometime and figured it was a sign that I should pitch in. This project is another amazing example of their work and I’m glad to see the Red Cross helping out. I also learned to be very appreciative of the imagery in the U.S.

Great work H.O.T. I signed up for the mailing list and will try to pitch in more often.

Location: Ireda Housing Estate, Central, Lira Municipality, Lira District, Northern Region, Uganda

I hope those of you I just friended on OSM find this entry. User XenonofArcticus and I are working on getting a Jefferson and Park County (and surrounded area) group together. I noticed a lot of users in the area (I friended everyone within 20KM or so) have not yet made any edits or have not in a long time. We are hoping to do a basic OSM overview and editing class in the near future. Please follow this discussion on for details:

Few updates

Posted by russdeffner on 22 July 2012 in English (English).
  1. Have about 1/2 of Park County TIGER edits complete.
  2. Have been using OSM for situational maps for a high profile Non-profit organization involved in disaster response; in conjunction I (and other volunteers) have been actively engaging in editing areas in and surrounding the 2012 wildfires in Colorado.
  3. Contacted by XenonofArcticus via OSM and started working on building a Park/Jeffco area OSM group using

Copper Mountain Ski Resort

Posted by russdeffner on 2 December 2010 in English (English).

I like the piste map concept and since I missed the Winter Park meet-up/mapping party I thought I'd contribute some knowledge from my years working at Copper Mountain. Enjoy

Location: Copper Mountain, Summit County, Colorado, United States

I was hoping to do nearly all TIGER road corrections 'armchair' style around Bailey Colorado, since I know the area very well; followed up by ground truth-ing some street names and eventually gathering address data. However, the TIGER data for Harris Park and the areas along the way have some major anomalies. It’s going to take a lot more verification than I was hoping for to get the roads fixed. Possibly going to take some four wheeling; plus there are a ton of hiking trails, etc up that way so don’t expect that area to be complete for quite some time.

Location: Highland Park, Park County, Colorado, United States