2012 Was HOT...Can't Wait for 2013

Posted by:
Kate Chapman
Date posted:
Jan, 2 2013

Closing out 2012 HOT has been officially in existence for over two and a half years. We continue to be able to do more to work to ensure geodata is freely available in times of crisis and natural disasters. I'm proud of the progress we've made and I'm excited to continue it into 2013. We have continued to respond remotely with the network for OpenStreetMap volunteers to respond to crisis and with donor partners to work on disaster preparedness project in seven countries. Additionally we have begun to be able to do strategic organizational work that will allow the continued growth of the organization.

Thanks to all of our volunteers that helped with responses, field missions, administrative work and anything else that helped keep HOT running over the past year. Without you there would be no way we could have accomplished all that we did.


Response is an extremely important part of the core of what the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team does. By rallying the OpenStreetMap community and coordination with responders and data providers, HOT helps fill in geographic data gaps. Below is by no means a complete list of response activities by HOT in 2012. I decided to pick out a few highlights, please excuse me if I've missed on that is particularly import to you. (Or drop me a Tweet about it)

This year unfortunately both began and ended with a response in the Philippines. In January it was after flash floods a large area in Northern Mindango and ended with mapping of areas hit by Typhoon Pablo/Bopha (this mapping continues thanks to imagery provided through the Disaster Charter by Astrium/SPOT). The Philippines OpenStreetMap community as previously has strongly been involved in both mapping and coordinating these responses.

Continued remote HOT response is occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is due to continued violence and displacement of people. If you are looking for a way to begin volunteering for HOT helping digitize imagery for the area would be a wonderful way to get started. There are multiple tasks set-up that need to be completed.

Also this year HOT responded to Hurricane Sandy, utilizing a modified version of MapMill which was modified at Camp Roberts in August. Volunteers were asked to rank damage in photographs taken by the US Civil Air Patrol and then that information was used to help FEMA decide how to prioritize their assessments. FEMA thanked everyone for their hard work on their website.

There were also responses to flooding in Northern Mali, Senegal and Indonesia to name a few places where tracing activities took place.

Data Preparedness Activities Through OpenStreetMap

In March 2010 the first HOT mission to anywhere in the world took place. Robert Soden and Nicolas Chavent went to Haiti to assist responders in the use of OpenStreetMap data and train in editing and contributing to OSM as well. This first mission certainly shaped both future trips to Haiti as well as other projects in Africa and Asia. Additionally it showed the impact of remote volunteers and people physically collecting data collaborating together.

HOT returned to Haiti at the very beginning of 2012 for a project to train 30 youth volunteers in Saint Marc to create a map of their commune which was funded by USAID/OTI. Unlike previous HOT activities in Haiti this one was focused on an area not specifically hit by the January 2010 earthquake.

2012 both marked the close of the first year of work in Indonesia and the beginning of the second year in partnership with the Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction. The closing of the first year occurred in March with a huge series of events to map Jakarta. As the rainy season is in full swing now in Jakarta there is detailed infrastructure data available to the Jakarta Disaster Management Agency (BPBD DKI Jakarta). September marked a significant growth in the team in Indonesia with the addition of 6 new trainers as well as Katrina Engelsted joining as an intern in July. One of my favorite accomplishments of 2012 of the work in Indonesia is that a training was held with the disaster management agency of West Sumatra, so even more detailed information can be added to the map of Padang City which was traced as part of a remote preparedness effort.

2012 also marked the expansion of HOT's on the ground activities into Africa. In June a team of three went on a scoping mission to Senegal. Nicolas Chavent also represented HOT at TechCamp Dakar. Currently an intern to HOT is living in Dakar and continuing to expand on the outreach done during the initial workshops.

In October the EUROSHA project began, which HOT is a partner in implementation. European volunteers are spending six months volunteering in the Central African Republic, Kenya, Burundi and Chad. The kickoff of the project began with a week training course in Plaisians where multiple HOT volunteers joined Severin Menard and Nicolas Chavent to train the EUROSHA team in OpenStreetMap. HOT has also traveled to all four countries as the volunteers have settled in to assist in getting them set-up with local partners and data collection programs.

Outside of these funded HOT projects the Ugandan Red Cross and American Red Cross worked together with HOT and the US State Department to do preventative mapping in Uganda. After volunteers traced imagery provided by the US State Department's Humanitarian Information Unit, then Robert Banick from the American Red Cross traveled to Uganda to do a series of workshops to teach volunteers and Uganda Red Cross staff how to both utilize and improve the data. I think in 2013 we will continue to see more of these join remote and on the ground activities.

Strategic Organizational Highlights

The biggest highlight for the strategic growth of HOT was our first strategic board meeting in Washington D.C. This meeting was due to the generosity of the Wilson Center and as actually the first time the HOT board was able to meet for multiple days to discuss how the organization should move forward in the long-term. Out of this meeting came a strategic document which has been shared with the HOT community for comment and we will begin to finalize in the first quarter of 2013. In addition to the creation of the strategic document in November HOT filed for tax exempt status in the United States and will hopefully hear back regarding it in 2013.


In addition to response work, preparedness and general strategy of the organization outreach is a significant aspect of HOT's work as well. Here are some of the main conferences and events we were at in 2012.

All of the events and actions in 2012 were really exciting. Additionally steps were taken by other organizations to make open data even more accessible. To major events that relate to our work is the World Bank declaring that when citizens help contribute information for community mapping those citizens should have access to that data under an open license. A secondary item that has major impact on HOT is the beginning of satellite imagery information available under the NextView license. This was imagery used for the Lira and Gulu preventative mapping in Uganda and response in Ambon, Indonesia. Without access to satellite imagery it is impossible for HOT to map remotely at all and difficult to map change after an event occurs.

Once again anyone who volunteered for any of the above, thank you! Volunteers are the core of what HOT does and the strength of our organization. I look forward to working with all of you in 2013. As much fun as it is to look back at all that was accomplished in 2012, I can't wait to see what we do in 2013.