Humanitarian OSM Team/SOTM2011 Meetup

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SOTM 2011 Meetup Notes

Consolidated Notes

Individual notes from the Meetup

Lisa's notes

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team face to face gathering at SOTM 2011 Sat, Sept. 10, 2011 Attending: approximately 30 attendees gathered outside in a circle on the lawn - see picture on http://hot.openstreetmap.org/weblog/2011/09/meeting-face-to-face-at-sotm-denver/

Others who attended this gathering, please feel free to contribute ideas I may have missed or edits to things I may have misheard. -Lisa Sweeney

HOT is working on the paperwork for filing as a US 501c3 non-profit and is almost ready to file. Many official documents can be found on the wiki: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Humanitarian_OpenStreetMap_Team#Incorporation

An annual meeting needs to be set, more people need to be invited to become members, and current members should be asked if they want to continue (some have been inactive). The aim is to have a general meeting in October over IRC.

There are discussions regarding whether to expand the board from 5 to 7 members in order to gain some strategic skills not currently covered. The board meets regularly and publishes minutes to the wiki: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Humanitarian_OSM_Team/Meetings

A quick highlight of topics from the last HOT board meeting included:

  • governance
  • funding
  • human resources needs
  • current projects
  • activation
  • membership

The board has been very operational /hands-on. What could people at SOTM and in the community be doing to help?

HOT has a new website: http://hot.openstreetmap.org/weblog/ Kate wrote all the content for this website. Others could be helping with writing information and blogging.

Develop a roster/ wiki page where people can post skills, experience, what languages one speaks, availability, etc

The need to establish protocols and clarity within the community regarding when HOT should activate was noted. HOT has run activations and humanitarian projects but distinguishing factors haven't been clearly defined. Examples: HOT has been doing work in Haiti, Indonesia, and Somalia. Many people from the community have put time and effort into helping with Somalia work, but is it officially activated? HOT has been 1. providing information services to supporting agencies during crisis 2. working with communities on ongoing humanitarian efforts. It was noted HOT should always be in the service of other organizations, such as those providing basic necessities like food, water, etc. It is important to steward volunteer activities for the right time and place. Which areas have the official weight of HOT activation need to be decided carefully. Harry Wood offered to draft an activation protocol, and Lisa Sweeney offered to help. Eventually there should be a wiki template for activations.

What is the process and who is involved with writing, posting, and the selection process for new jobs? There are plans to seek funding to cover administrative overhead costs and a director position.

Need to identify volunteers able to organize activation to respond to crisis. These people need to be available as points of contact, really visible, and have GREAT organizational skills. Should an activation be run by an individual or 2 with a known face, or a mailing list of people?

Training - So far HOT has used the "buddy" system - An inexperienced person is accompanied by an experienced person in the field. An example that worked in Haiti was having an experienced person in the field for an extended time period, who was willing and able to take on several new people for a week to train them about HOT activities and agency interactions. People desire HOT trainings. HOT has developed effective techniques and values that should be captured into training materials and established as a baseline for any field person to know before starting a mission. Work has started at some universities and at the upcoming FOSS4G to offer workshops - this work could be expanded. Volunteer tourism has been expanding. There could be opportunities with people who are willing to pay their own way and extra to cover the cost of the trainer, operations, and those who cannot afford to pay. Fundraising for training could enable hiring a HOT field school coordinator. Kate noted being aware of some corporations interested in this.

An Ushahidi community member shared some lessons learned. Tools are only a start, they are not the answer. The community needs to talk to each other, understand the goals, what needs to be done, and who they can talk to when there are questions. A community manager is needed, but the community needs to also be able to connect directly in order to have scalability.

Building on community connections - There are many ex-pat communities with strong family ties and extensive knowledge of places where HOT is working. Albanian wikipedia pages are largely contributed by ex-pats - an example HOT can learn from. HOT could work on building connections with these communities. It was noted this takes long-term relationships and trust building to work.

Tech and quick puzzle solving needs to coordinate small areas arise. How can HOT better communicate these with the community as the needs arise? Some coordinating is being done using open atrium?

publicity, marketing, and fundraising are ongoing needs

Could HOT fit within the context of university study abroad programs? HOT is still working to establish and grow projects, making it hard to predict the future. It will get easier to plan ahead as things mature.

A question that came up is whether it is ok with the community to consider using proprietary software tools to help HOT with organizational challenges.