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Russell Deffner

StaffVoting MemberProject Manager & Disaster Response Coordinator


I was introduced to HOT at State of the Map 2011 and really began contributing in 2012 mostly through the tasking manager.  In 2013 I assisted with writing the Code of Conduct and participated in several Working Groups.  In late 2013 I was selected as Junior Coordinator for the Mapping Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia project and spent four weeks in the field training and mapping.  At the beginning of 2014 I was nominated to the HOT Membership and elected as the Chair for the Voting Members. 2015 I was elected for a second term as Chairperson and was selected as the Activation Curriculum Specialist.

In late 2016 I was selected as Project Manager for the Eliminate Malaria Mapping Campaign, at that point HOT's largest ever project in terms of geographic size - every building in a 560,000 square kilometer area of interest across seven countries was digitized. At the end of 2017 I began working as Project Manager for the Facebook AI-Assisted Road Mapping which still continues today. Throughout that time I was also volunteering as the Disaster Mapping Coordinator, joining or leading our teams to facilitate the flow of geospatial information from the crowd to the first responders and aid agencies in times of crises.

In 2018 I met my wife at the State of the Map - Milan conference and in 2019 we were married and had our son. Also in 2019 Cyclone Idai struck and with that response, the Humanitarian To Humanitarian (H2H) Network launched and for the first time since our modern definition of Activation was created, we were funded for an incident response. With another long-term commitment from H2H for COVID mapping in 2020, we began the first scale-up of the program to 3 full-time committed staff, including myself. Now backed by the Audacious Project through 2025, we look to make that a permanent expansion and will additional recruit regional disaster associates in our hub-offices. On top of it all, I also represent HOT in the Missing Maps partnership, mainly through my role as volunteer Project Manager for Mapswipe and often consult with our Technical as well as Partnerships and Community teams when they need the long-term expertise to make things work.


Validators: Experienced Mappers Making an Outsized Contribution

Validators serve an essential role in ensuring data quality and providing feedback to new mappers. Learn how validation works and how you can become a validator.

24 May, 2021

Building a Global Network to Map for COVID-19 Response

With support from the Humanitarian-to-Humanitarian Network, HOT has engaged the global humanitarian mapping community to support local Covid-19 responses in the biggest disaster activation in HOT's history.

3 March, 2021

Disaster Response Update: October & November 2020

Through the Activation Working Group and the Disaster Services Team, HOT has been responding to disasters around the world. Here's what you can do to help.

4 November, 2020

HOT Pairs 2020 Virtual Summit with the Understanding Risk Forum 2020

HOT pairs 2020 Virtual Summit with the Understanding Risk Forum 2020

5 October, 2020

1 Year & 1 Hundred-Thousand Kilometers with HOT & Facebook

Partnering with Facebook, the HOT Indonesia team has added about 125,000 kilometers (80,000 miles) of road to Indonesia so far.

20 December, 2018

HOT Conversations at State of the Map 2018

There has been a lot of activity lately within the HOT Community and we’re ready to share this at State of the Map 2018...

28 July, 2018

Local Indonesia OSM Chapter teams up with HOT and Facebook to improve road coverage in Indonesia.

HOT has been mapping Indonesia for disaster preparedness and resiliency since 2011. However, there is still a lot of road network missing outside the major cities. Learn how the local community is working with Facebook to fill in the gaps using artificial intelligence tools.

4 April, 2018

Help Support 3 Local OpenStreetMap Communities Dealing With Disaster!

2018 has taken no time off from disasters and HOT is supporting three local OpenStreetMap communities with their response to events in their countries, read more to find out how you can help...

16 January, 2018

Calling All Validators (and Mappers)!

HOT begins to transition mapping of critical data in response to the Mexico Earthquakes, South Asia Floods, Caribbean Hurricanes and West Pacific Volcano threats back to local communities. It’s during this crucial time that we ask for mappers to become validators, and make an important second look to ensure the mapping was done as instructed.

10 November, 2017

OSM Puerto Rico Emerges Stronger and Ready to Help Rebuild!

As Hurricane Maria‘s winds and rain battered our home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, among the many thoughts that bounced in my head in those long hours was wondering about the people living in the mountainous regions of the island. The winding roads, heavy foliage, cliffs, bridges and terrain susceptible to landslides could make it the worst place to be in during such a powerful storm. Many small communities on those mountains would become isolated for weeks.

27 October, 2017

Fall 2017 Disaster Response: Calling All Mappers!

HOT continues response to multiple disasters...

10 October, 2017

Malaria Elimination Mapping Continues

HOT has teamed up with many partners working to eliminate the disease malaria. Malaria is preventable and curable and without transmission will cease to exist. In order to effectively carry out intervention campaigns, HOT has been asked to help identify and map populated places in some of the most susceptible places.

4 October, 2017

YouthMappers ‘Mapping to End Malaria’ Challenge: Round 3 Results

The third and final round of the YouthMappers challenge has concluded. In round three, we had 13 Universities participate, bringing the total for all...

12 June, 2017

YouthMappers ‘Mapping to End Malaria’ Challenge: Round 2 Results

Over 200 students at 13 universities participated in the second round of the YouthMappers ‘Mapping to end Malaria’ Challenge. Together, they mapped almost 400,000 buildings in Zimbabwe. Thank you to all the chapters who participated!

8 May, 2017

YouthMappers ‘Mapping to End Malaria’ Challenge: Round 1 Results

Our first round of the YouthMappers ‘Mapping to end Malaria’ Challenge has concluded. Together, 141 students at 8 universities mapped over 50,000 buildings in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Thank you to all the chapters who participated!

12 April, 2017

World Health Day 2017: show your support by mapping for malaria

Malaria is a disease that affects millions of people around the world, particularly children under 5 and women. Malaria is prevalent in some of the most unmapped places. Malaria is a preventable and curable disease, but currently organisations do not have detailed data on the number of vulnerable people in an area, which reduces their ability to respond. Malaria spreads through mosquito bites, and if you can prevent bites, you can reduce the spread of infection. This means that you need to know where those vulnerable to malaria live, so you can spray their homes with insecticide or distribute bednets. This way you can save more lives, more quickly.

7 April, 2017

Malaria Mapping YouthMappers Challenge

HOT is managing a mapping project for malaria eradication across seven countries in Southern Africa, Southeast Asia and Central America. This project is part of the Missing Maps initiative and is backed by DigitalGlobe, the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Gates Foundation. Our mission is to generate building data in OpenStreetMap for a total of over 500,000 square kilometers by April 2017. We are starting a YouthMappers competition for the project. Prizes will be given to the chapters that contribute the most quality data to this project.

6 March, 2017

Same Website, New Look!

  Greetings HOT community, For a few years now we have been contemplating a new look, and more importantly - improved usability, of our...

22 April, 2016

HOT 2016 Annual Meeting and Elections

Greetings HOT Community,Each year the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) Voting Members assemble for HOT’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). During this important event, we announce the election results for the HOT Board of Directors and Membership Chairperson. Also, the AGM is where we typically consider items like adopting or amending policies such as the Membership Code of Conduct.

23 March, 2016

Welcome new HOT Voting Members!

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team is pleased to welcome eighteen new voting members!

15 January, 2016

Don't get left behind...

The buzz of Geography Awareness Week, has reached far corners of the world. This year’s theme “Explore! The Power of Maps” has inspired more than 60 groups to join HOT and the Missing Maps partners during November 15 – 21 in support of Geography Awareness Week.

15 November, 2015

Eastern Afghanistan Earthquake Day 1

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) calls upon our community to assist those affected by disaster for the second time in under one week

28 October, 2015

Activation Workshop at Africa Open Data Conference

The first workshop for the HOT Activation Curriculum was held during the pre-conference events of the first Africa Open Data Conference. The conference facilitated discussion around the benefit of Open Data on the African continent including lessons learned from around the globe. HOT is grateful to have been invited to participate in the conference and conduct our Activation workshop.

8 September, 2015

HOT Leadership 2015

This year has presented many challenges to HOT. We have been incredibly active and successful in all of our programs: Disaster Mapping, Community Building and Technical Projects. However, as many of you know, 2015 has been a year of tremendous change in HOT leadership.

8 July, 2015

Mapping Ulaanbaatar with Asia Foundation

Recently we had a very pleasant surprise to be contacted by Nicholas Doiron, who Project Coordinator, Severin Menard, knew from previous work including in Haiti. Nick, now working with Asia Foundation alongside Michelle Chang, knew about the HOT Mapping Ulaanbaatar project and reached out for advice as the Asia Foundation planned an OpenStreetMap Mapathon competition.

3 July, 2015

Mongolia - Mapping Ulaanbaatar Update - Welcome Interns!

It is our pleasure to welcome a group of student interns from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST) to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) as stewards for the Mapping Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia project we began in 2013. The project is a collaboration between HOT, the World Bank, nonprofit research group ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) and the city of Ulaanbaatar to create and maintain a map of the city within OpenStreetMap (OSM).

7 May, 2015

Strong Earthquake in Nepal - HOT Activates! Report #1

We are sad to report that there has been a major earthquake in Nepal. The best place to get information about HOT's response is...

25 April, 2015

Welcome New Members!

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team is pleased to announce the election of twenty-five (25) new voting members to our organization. They are an amazing group...

20 February, 2015

Straighten Our Ways – Ulaanbaatar Project Week 5

Having taken advantage of the warmer temperature the latter part of Week 4, we had plenty of data to edit and upload. Unfortunately this...

5 November, 2013

Keep From Crumbling - Ulaanbaatar Project Week 3

I will admit, I was quite nervous knowing that I would be 'alone' in Ulaanbaatar this week; especially knowing that Wednesday and Thursday I...

20 October, 2013

Russell's Week One (i.e. project week 2) Ulaanbaatar

Sain bainuu, or hello from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia! My name is Russell Deffner and I am the Junior Coordinator for the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT)...

13 October, 2013