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News — 17 June, 2020

What if we could map an area home to one billion people currently missing from the world’s maps?

We are honored and excited to announce that the HOT community is one of eight recipients of funding from The Audacious Project, a collaborative philanthropic initiative that serves as a springboard for social impact on a grand scale.

The funding recognizes the essential work that HOT and OpenStreetMap communities have been doing for years, adding one village, one road, one hospital at a time to OpenStreetMap, in order to build OpenStreetMap into the “go to” map in parts of the world that other maps don’t reach.

Over the next five years, this funding will enable HOT to scale up its support to local mapping communities with the aim of mapping an area home to one billion people, adding places at high risk of natural disaster or experiencing poverty. Traditionally, visibility on a map was based on a community’s economic worth or status. Until recently, the majority of mapping companies continued this trend, primarily driven by advertising and data sales. We will correct this data injustice by making sure that everyone has access to the tools and knowledge to contribute to the only free and open map of the world: OpenStreetMap.

Why were we selected?

The Audacious Project was inspired by the HOT community’s vision of ensuring that places home to a billion people experiencing poverty or living at risk of disaster are represented on the map over the coming five years.

“Over the past decade, HOT has supported over 200,000 volunteers in the act of mapping an area home to more than 150 million people—and, in doing so, has provided critical data for humanitarian response to nearly 100 disasters and crises. This track record is reason enough to support, but we were compelled by HOT’s bold yet achievable vision to ensure that places that are home to one billion people—the places around the world where the risk of disaster and the reality of multidimensional poverty are at their strongest—will finally be represented.”

Anna Verghese, Executive Director of The Audacious Project at TED

What will we do?

While HOT will continue to develop crisis response capacity and expertise, this investment from Audacious donors will enable HOT’s work to be more proactive, mapping with communities before they are in crisis. Maps and geodata are most useful if they can be used by responders before disaster strikes, such as when planning a response based on a hurricane forecast or in the early stages of an outbreak.

Over five years, we plan to:

  • Set up a network of regional hubs in South Asia, East Africa, West Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean, which will engage with local mapping communities, facilitate knowledge exchanges, distribute funding, and provide training and support in order to massively scale local edits to OpenStreetMap in 94 countries

  • Invest in technologies that enhance mapping contributions on mobile to enable scaling of local contributions to OpenStreetMap

  • Invest in map data quality and ethical collection and use of map data

  • Work with humanitarian organizations, governments, and other actors to help them use OpenStreetMap to deliver more effective and efficient aid

  • Work more closely with the OSM community/OpenStreeMap Foundation (OSMF), supporting the community and core systems and software

What will the impact be?

By 2025, communities across 94 countries vulnerable to disaster or experiencing multidimensional poverty will be visible on the map. Our goals are:

  • That missing maps are no longer a factor in human suffering or loss of life in humanitarian crises

  • That communities are equipped and able to map the locations where they live and work

  • That decision-makers are able to rely on maps and geodata to better allocate resources for the improvement of public health, water, sanitation and hygiene, early childhood development and education, infrastructure, and better reach target communities - including the world’s children

  • That women and girls are fully represented on the map

All data will be available publicly in OpenStreetMap. With this open, up-to-date, free, and digital public good, information will be readily available to make better and faster decisions. As this data is open, the possibilities of impact are limitless.

This is an exciting time for HOT’s global community and demonstrates how necessary free, open and up to date maps will be for the humanitarian and development sectors in years to come. We are deeply grateful to The Audacious Project and respected philanthropic organizations, including the Skoll Foundation, the ELMA Philanthropies, Rippleworks, Pivotal Ventures, MacKenzie Scott, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Rosamund Zander and Hansjörg Wyss and private donors, for believing in our vision of a global movement in which volunteers from all walks of life co-create the best map of our world.

See the FAQ for more information about how The Audacious Project will support HOT’s mission and how we will work with OSM communities and the regional hubs.