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!


Comment from TylerOSM on 4 January 2016 at 19:07

Russ, your support both as a paid staffer and volunteer has been invaluable for me and for HOT this year. Look forward to working with you in 2016. Tyler

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