User:Nicolas Chavent

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French Geographer and GIS/Cartography expert with a background rooted in Litterature/ Social Sciences/ Social activism and 20 years of work in Overseas Academic Research, Humanitarian and Development actions. Haiti and French-speaking sub-saharian Africa. Co-creator and co-founder of the US NGO Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team HOT US Inc Project. Creator, founder and coordinator of the association Projet Espace OSM Francophone Projet EOF. Creator, founder and coordinator of the French association #LesLibresGeographes (#TheFreeGeographers)

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.

Initiative Projet Espace OSM Francophone

To better address the specifics of community building in French speaking countries of the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa, I ideated and started in 2012 the initiative Espace OSM Francophone (EOF) Project with the support of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). The aims is to build human collectives as well as an efficient and agile mechanisms to support continued local OSM animation. It 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. I co-founded in October 2016 with members of these informal spatial collectives the Projet Espace OSM Francophone (Projet EOF), a non-profit, secular and apolitical French association loi 1901 which operates through volunteerism only excluding provision of paid services around OSM and Free Geomatics from its resources.

Association Les Libres Géographes

The provision of paid services (mainly for Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Agence Française de Développement and Gret) which for all the technical and organizational support activities in Haiti and French-speaking African countries have been conducted since 2013 by a work collective of by a collective of GIS and Software development experts who have been using since 2010 the principles, tools and practices of the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project, free software and open data movements in both humanitarian and development contexts in these territories. Together, we co-founded Les Libres Géographes (« The Free Geographers » or LLG), a non-profit, secular and apolitical French association loi 1901 officially incorporated in March 2017. As a geomatics firm rooted in Social Solidarity Economy, LLG conducts its activities seeking systematically to use, to support and strengthen the OSM Project, free software and open data communities in developing and least developed countries. LLG operates primarily in Haiti and French speaking Africa through local community empowerment schemes in order to build local autonomous, sustainable community-based capacities, able to interact with local and global geomatics, OSM, open data and free software stakeholders. LLG and its partners always engage in humanitarian or developing fields through ad hoc approaches fitting with poverty contexts which are inclusive of existing volunteering local dynamics.

Asides of these activities, 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.