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News — 10 August, 2020

HOT’s Community Support Programs - Going Beyond Microgrants

HOT’s vision is to map an area home to one billion people living in poverty and at high risk of disasters by engaging mappers around the world to massively grow the number of local edits to the map. To kickstart planning, HOT’s Community Team has hosted a series of workshops to understand community perspectives.

Working with and supporting OpenStreetMap communities in 94 Low- and Middle-Income Countries worldwide is critical to HOT’s Audacious Vision. Since 2017, HOT’s Microgrant Program has supported 39 communities in 23 countries with grants between $2,000 and $12,000. To date, HOT Micrograntees have made 9 million map edits and trained 13,400 new mappers to join their communities. Now, with the support of the Audacious Project, HOT will be massively increasing its support to mapping communities to further enable them to grow and contribute high quality data to OpenStreetMap.

Community Feedback Workshops

Over the past three weeks, HOT has hosted a series of workshops with a variety of different stakeholders. The goal of these conversations has been to understand what OSM communities want to achieve and what kind of support they want from HOT. This understanding is vital to ensure that the expansion of HOT’s community support that is now possible under the Audacious Project meets the needs of OSM community members around the world. We have hosted six workshops, engaging 84 people who are members of OSM Communities, HOT Voting Members, YouthMappers Ambassadors, staff members in HOT’s Country Offices, and State of the Map attendees.

We collected qualitative and quantitative data to identify challenges, skills gaps, and expectations from OSM community members, using as a platform to collect ideas, stimulate discussion, and collate data around four key questions:

  1. What are the day to day challenges faced by OSM communities?
  2. Are there any skills gaps in your OSM community? If so, which skills?
  3. What kind of support do communities expect? Do we deliver on expectations?
  4. What do you think defines success as an OSM community?

Data was then organized and analyzed using a data framework that captured all of the ideas and discussion points.

Key Findings

What are the day to day challenges faced by OSM communities?

The three most common challenges:

  • 31% of challenges were associated with volunteers. These included volunteer commitment, retention and the technical knowledge of volunteers.
  • 23% of challenges related to funding for project execution, including internet access and covering volunteer costs/volunteer incentives.
  • 22% of challenges were associated with access to tools, equipment, space, and internet. The most prominent challenge in this category was internet access and lack of equipment. Often the hardware that is available is old and ineffective.

Community Support Word Cloud 1.png

Are there any skills gaps in communities? If so, which skills?

The three most common skill gaps:

  • 32% of skills gap discussed in the workshops related to GIS data collection and quality. This skills gap was identified as being most prominent in communities from Indonesia and the Philippines. Validation, data quality control, and understanding and using JOSM and QGIS were the most discussed skills gaps overall.
  • 24% of skills gaps were related to entrepreneurial skills. Writing proposals, leadership skills, and pitching and presenting were skills gaps raised by participants in all six workshops.
  • 19% of skills gaps identified were associated with project management and planning, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting.

Community Support Word Cloud 2.png

What kind of support do communities expect? Do we deliver on expectations?

The three most common expectations:

  • 31% of community expectations identified were related to the idea of a long term support program. This included mentorship (discussed mostly by participants at the State of the Map workshop), advice on tools and methods, and help with technical applications.
  • 16% of expectations were related to training, which included technical training, data validation, and communications and outreach. One of the participants in the YouthMappers workshop said “we just want training; more and more training”.
  • 14% of expectations were related to receiving funding to execute projects and contribute to community overheads.

What do you think defines success as an OSM community?

The goals community members mentioned in response to this question ranged significantly, from data quality and completeness to community sustainability and financing. Three most common definitions of success:

  • 40% of the ideas identified community as being the key to success. Sustained community expansion was the most discussed success (32% of the 40%), followed by ‘an active, vibrant and diverse community (17% of the 40%)
  • 15% of the ideas saw OSM coverage as a definition of success
  • And 15% of the ideas identified institutionalisation as being key. This included legal registration and an owned space for mapping activities.


The ideas and information collected in these workshops provide useful building blocks to start the creation of HOT’s Community Strategy, which will address community goals and acknowledge challenges, skills gaps, and expectations within regional contexts. The findings of these workshops clarify the need to:

  • Redevelop HOT’s Microgrants program into a more robust Community Support Program, which will offer OpenStreetMap communities training in mapping, advanced GIS and data analysis, financial management, and business development.
  • Provide this support at a more localized level. Going forward, OpenStreetMap community support will be provided directly from regional hubs in Asia, East Africa, West Africa, and Latin America & the Caribbean, rather than from HOT’s Global team.
  • Create frameworks to measure data quality and map completeness.

Next Steps

The research is not yet complete! We are continuing to seek viewpoints from community members - if you would like to contribute to this, and have any ideas on how HOT can develop a robust Community Support Program, please complete this survey by Sunday 23 August. We are particularly interested in collecting viewpoints from individuals in these 94 priority countries.

We will complete a detailed Community Strategy for HOT’s re-envisioned Community Support Program, which will address how HOT can: Appropriately phase Microgrants and support to OSM communities to lead to greater community sustainability over time.

  • Offer appropriate support and training for data collection and quality.
  • Offer appropriate business-related training and support.

If you have any questions, please contact or