We are excited to share with you an update on how at HOT we plan to increase our support to Open Mapping on the LATAM region to find ways to connect geospatial data and community effort towards collective well-being!
Early this year we conducted a series of consultations in Latin America region to know how the concept of an “Open Mapping Hub” can support and benefit local open mapping communities, projects and people.
In parallel during the past months we have also supported the Open Cities project (currently in progress) to bring value to local areas in the region (Mexico, Guatemala, Santa Lucía, Dominica and Jamaica) through mapping.
We acknowledge that we haven’t been really good at communicating the progress and current status of the consultation work and that’s why I’ll try here to provide more detail on what has happened, the blockers we have faced and our plans moving forward.
What has happened?
After all the consultations, input and feedback from local communities,**it was clear that we needed to take a more community-driven approach **in creating a Hub in the region. We needed an approach which surfaced local needs, challenges and opportunities, as well as be **driven by local people **through a much deeper, region-wide engagement on what the hub should be and do, as opposed to just where the hub should be.
Thanks again to everyone who engaged into these conversations (specially the OSM communities and contributors in Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico) - your experience and input was key to understanding what role HOT can play, what we need to learn and what value we can provide in the region.
To do this, we tried to recruit one person to support community research and engagement in mid-2021. Unfortunately we were unable to find what we were looking for; we were looking for someone who had expertise in far too many areas and was available at the time to be hired. We were looking for a 🦄 unicorn and we couldn’t find one.
Where are we now?
We have decided to take a different approach in order to move forward, and invest the next months in designing and testing activities that, not only bring value to people but also help HOT, communities and other open mapping actors engage together and learn and co-design what an Open Mapping Hub serving Latin America could look like and do.
We are calling this the “Hub Alpha” phase and the goal is to have enough experience and information by the end of Q2 2022 to kick-start the formation of the Hub 1.0.
During the next months we plan to pilot support and engagement with local communities and open mapping actors in the region at three different levels:
- Focus projects (inner circle): By supporting specific small-medium-sized on-going or new local projects working with Open Mapping Data, showing how it can help support people’s well.being!
- General regional support (middle circle): Engaging deeper with local communities and documenting what are the local problems and opportunities that Open Mapping can contribute to, as well as enabling relationship building and peer-support between HOT, communities, organizations and governments.
- Open learning & knowledge space (outer circle): Connecting the different regional actors together and unlocking and supporting opportunities that can benefit Open Mapping knowledge across all LATAM, to support open source infrastructure in the region.
We think that by doing this we’ll be able to document insights, and test and prove (or disprove) concepts that can inform what the right “Hub” concept might be for the region and what are the approaches that do and don’t work, coming directly from the people who are in the region.
In order to get there we’ll need to form (and hire) a small, diverse and multi-skilled team from the region to support each of the action levels. We translated the skills and capabilities requirements into a “Team description” that is now live, offering individuals the opportunity to join us in this venture!
Please circulate this opportunity on your networks and social media, and apply if you think it fits you!
- What do you like the most about this approach? Do you have other comments about it?
- We want to hear, join this conversation and let us know!
(English, Spanish or Portuguese comments are all welcomed)