User:Nicolas Chavent

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I am a French Geographer and a GIS/Cartography expert with a background rooted in Litterature/ Social Sciences/ Social activism and 14 years of work in Overseas Academic Research, Humanitarian and Development.

Geographer in Overseas Development Studies with IRD/CNRS

I had been living over 7 years in Senegal and worked from 2001 to 2003 in Overseas Geographical Studies with a focus in Medical Geography in Senegal and Burkina Faso with the Institut de Recherche pour le Developement (IRD) and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). I developed in this time an interest for Humanitarian and Development understood as fields of practices (theories and actions) where space and location tied to agile, innovative approaches to individual and community empowerment - geography in action - have a role to play which potential has not been fulfilled yet.

United Nations with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Joint Logistics Centre (UNJLC)

I had been working 6 years within the United Nations in charge of projects around Crisis Preparedness and Response within the World Food Programm-WFP (2003-2006), the largest humanitarian agency and at inter-agency level (in the UN system) within the UN Joint Logistics Centre-UNJLC (2006-2008).

As a GIS Officer and the coordinator of the UN Spatial Data Infrastructure for Tranport (UNSDIT) initiative, I had been serving UNJLC, and through it the whole humanitarian community (United Nations Agencies, NGOs, Local/Central Governments, Individuals), by providing with public domain logistics data and decision-making products any humanitarian actor engaged in large scale emergencies.

I met with Schuyler Erle, Mikel Maron and Andrew Turner in Nov 2007, and I have been since then actively advocating for OpenStreetMap in the UN System (UN Geographical Working Group - UNGIWG, crisis response fora). I have been preaching for OSM to form a core component of any GIS solution set up in Humanitarian and Development contexts. More specifically, until the end of my time with UNJLC (Oct 2008), I had been building the acceptability of OSM within the GIS Humanitarian System. I facilitated the import into the OSM database of the geodata for South Sudan collected by UNJLC. Finally, I acted so that OSM can step in crisis responses at the event of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (May 2008) and Cyclones Gustav/Hannah in Haiti (Sept/Oct 2008).

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) project

From my years as a practitioner in Overseas Academic Research, Humanitarian and Development worlds, I strongly believe that the OpenStreetMap project, the wider open data and open source movements are building a new emerging paradigm in territorial dynamics which allows for renewed global and local citizen actions and empowerment schemes relevant for Humanitarian contexts and leading eventually to human Development.

To foster the maturation of this paradigm, I invented the concept of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) Project with Mikel Maron from late 2007 to early 2009. I engaged in the OSM response to the Haiti 12-January 2010 earthquake, both remotely and on-the-ground, by leading the first field work of the HOT Project from March 2010 onwards. I co-founded the US-incorporated NGO HOT Us Inc with Mikel Maron, Kate Chapman, Robert Soden and Dane Springmeyer in August 2010 to widen and deepen the HOT Project in Haiti and in Humanitarian and Development work overseas. I served as a Board Officer and Programs Director for HOT US Inc from 2010-2014 and focused my engagement in developing the capacities of this Organization, its community and its partners to support and build local autonomous OSM communities in Haiti and Western/Central Africa.

The Espace OSM Francophone (EOF) project

To better address the specifics of community building in French speaking countries of the Caribbean and Africa, I ideated and started in 2012 the Espace OSM Francophone (EOF) Project with the support of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). The EOF Project represents both a collective as well as an efficient and agile mechanism to support continued local OSM animation. This consists of a mix of volunteerism and a series of small well targeted support projects tailored to the poverty context of those territories. Typically EOF activities spans in-country and remote mapping (humanitarian activations included), training, building of technical and organizational support materials. These are happening within an overall capacity building scheme and a continued mentorship which provides support to the most active individuals and groups. EOF works and operates through local partnerships with Academics (Research), Free Software Associations, Local Government or humanitarian actors. They form the basis of the OSM ecosystem and provides workplaces and resources for collectives of local OSM animators to grow local OSM communities.

Asides of the HOT and the EOF projects, I am curious and interested about the OSM project worldwide, how it ties to Geography, opendata and open source movements, as well as the wealth of re-uses it is enabling for all and by all.