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News — 16 October, 2018

HOT Endorses the Principles for Digital Development

In October 2018, HOT officially endorsed the Principles for Digital Development, joining just over 100 organizations who have done so to date. The Digital Principles are nine “living” guidelines designed to help digital development practitioners integrate established best practices into technology-enabled programs. The Principles focus heavily on many of HOT's core values, including community, openness, collaboration, and innovation and will continue to guide our work going forward.

When I think about HOT, some of the first words that come to mind are:

  • Community

  • Open

  • Collaborative

  • Innovation

Coincidentally, these are also some of the same themes that emerge in the Principles for Digital Development. The Principles are a set of living guidance intended to help practitioners succeed in applying digital technologies to development programs. Over the past nine years, our community has supported and advocated for many of the concepts that become enshrined in the Principles for Digital Development in 2014-15.

The nine Principles for Digital Development

Starting in late 2017, as we considered endorsing the Principles, HOT team members participated in and led conversations at two DIAL events around the Principles in Jakarta and Dar es Salaam:

HOT Indonesia Country Manager Yantisa Akhadi moderates a panel on the Build for Sustainability principle with the DIAL community in Jakarta, Indonesia in February, 2017.

Coming out of events in Dar es Salaam and Jakarta, we found that while we endeavor to promote all nine Principles, three have special relevance for our organization:

Be Collaborative: HOT is both an NGO and a global network. Our work developing software tools and open geospatial datasets would not be possible without involvement and collaboration within our community. This includes individual volunteers, private sector companies, and our government and NGO partners across geographies, focus areas and organizations. Our open source ethos requires us to be collaborative: when we bring together partners to contribute code and pool resources, we deliver better products that meet the needs of not only HOT but also communities and other organizations.

Design with the User: HOT’s tools are designed together with our community of mapping volunteers. This starts with community code/development challenges and continues with development happening in the open with community feedback and testing throughout the process. We interpret and operationalize this Principle through rapid prototyping and iterating with our users.

Use Open Standards, Open Data, Open Source, and Open Innovation: This has been core to HOT’s culture and thinking from Day 1. This is not only about avoidance of duplication: with open source/data, we are standing on one another’s shoulders and all achieve vastly greater things. All of HOT’s mapping and data collection projects focus on generating or contributing to free and open data sets in OpenStreetMap. All software development undertaken by HOT and our partners is released under open source licenses. Importantly, the process of development is undertaken in a open way: code in the open, contributors from multiple organizations, community review and feedback. Software development and HOT’s community in general operates with a spirit of transparency, participation, and collaboration.

HOT Tanzania Country Manager Ivan Gayton talks “Design with the User” with the DIAL community at the Hyatt Regency, Dar es Salaam, October 12, 2017

HOT’s full endorsement letter:

Thanks to HOT staff members Ivan Gayton and Yantisa Akhadi for contributions to our endorsement. For more, join the discussion in DIAL’s Digital Principles Forum or on HOT’s Slack.