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News — 31 May, 2016

HOTOSM recognized by the President of Mexico during Internet Day 2016

(Welcome and thank you Miriam Gonzalez for this guest post, sharing recognition by the President of Mexico of HOT during Hurricane Patricia! -Mikel)

On "Internet Day", May 17 2016, the President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto invited fifty Digital Leaders (#LideresDigitales) to have a dialogue on the future of technology and Internet in Mexico. I had the opportunity of being among these group of citizens. The President talked about various related topics but especially appreciated the efforts of humanitarian mapping conducted by Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team during Hurricane Patricia.


Why did the President of México thank the efforts of HOTSOM in Hurricane Patricia? On October 23, 2015 Hurricane Patricia threatened to touch the states of Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco with winds up to 325 km/h, "very likely that this hurricane is the strongest ever in the Pacific side of our country, since it has records".

Hurricane Patricia Path from NOAA

Contributors of OpenStreetMap and HOTOSM like Rodolfo Wilhelmy, Humberto Yances, Rafael Avila, Robert Banick, Andres Ortiz, and many others (sorry for not mentioning everyone), in addition to an army of over 500 mappers of Mexico and the world joined efforts to support this area of the Mexican Pacific with data that could be used for the benefit of the potentially affected population. Fortunately, the hurricane lost strength by touching the coast of Mexico, causing minimal damage compared to what was expected. These efforts were officially recognized by Mexico's Director General of Open Data in November.

Quick stats:

  • More than 500 contributors mapped 9,000 kms of roads (5.6k miles of road) + 72,000 buildings in 72hrs
  • 29,608 km^2 pre-event DigitalGlobe imagery was processed to improved coverage over priority areas.
  • INEGI road data was analyzed to identify missing roads and road names in OSM data.
  • Mexico Open Data was confirmed by authorities to be used in OpenStreetMap.
  • All this was possible thanks to the great work of HOT members, companies supporting OSM project and the local community in Mexico and the world.

Contributors mapping the priority area in 72 hours Gif by Mapbox

The Internet Day event took place in Los Pinos (the equivalent of the U.S. White House), and at the moment the Open Data topic was mentioned, Peña Nieto said someone who had supported the response for Hurricane Patricia was among the guests, so I raised my hand to start the dialogue. The President mentioned “… I just want to thank you because it’s an example that illustrates very well what we can achieve, and I think that you also use open information.” I gave my point of view on the need for Mexico to not only upload open data to be the first in quantity of released Open Data but emphasized the need of quality Open Data in order to take better decisions. Also I mentioned the importance of Open Mapping and collaboration between Governments and Civil Society, so more Mexicans are protected from disasters (find the video here).

Fragment of video from President’s office twitter account

In Mexico, the OpenStreetMap community is not as numerous as in other countries, but in the last two years a group of collaborators have joined together to promote the project and increase the local community through massive workshops in Universities and courses for Government Authorities and Civil Society. Much remains to be mapped, but I believe we are on the right track.

Miriam Gonzalez