Wiki:Humanitarian OSM Team/Board Elections 2021/Candidate Responses to Official HOT Membership Questions
All questions were sent to the candidates in both English and French (Translated via https://www.deepl.com). Candidates were encouraged to answer in a language that was comfortable to them, and should the responses need to be translated back to English, the Election Committee would do so, again using DeepL.
Candidates were provided the Official Questions from the membership here: Talk:Humanitarian_OSM_Team/Board_Elections_2021. While questions were separated by theme, there may have been some overlapping responses in some of these questions. Responses from candidates may be combined in their previous answers or may have chosen not to answer that particular question. Please read read all responses to get a better understanding of the candidate's thoughts.
The ordering follows the order of Humanitarian_OSM_Team/Board_Elections_2021#Nominations_for_Humanitarian_OpenStreetMap_Team_Board_of_Directors.
Answers per question
My main contribution to HOT in the past year has been in a board role. The past six months as a board member I have primarily worked to get oriented as the HOT of today is very different from the last time I was heavily involved in HOT. Beyond that I have provided feedback on the technical strategy, recruited for the Membership Committee and voted on necessary board decisions.
I am on the risk assessment committee where I am actively researching risk from errors in data. I also participated in the theory of change workshop helping to come up with a vision for the
I have served as a highly active member of the Community Working Group over the past year. My contributions have included:
- Attending nearly every meeting of the WG, as my schedule has allowed, and serving as the lead/moderator for many meetings.
- Proposing the use of breakout rooms during our monthly webinars as places for HOT community members to meet, network, and share ideas; the proposal was adopted by the WG, and the breakout rooms after each webinar have been well-received. I personally have seen many people make connections and discover opportunities for collaboration in the breakout rooms.
- Serving as the lead planner and host for the March 2021 webinar, [Challenging Sexism and Misogyny in the Open Mapping Ecosystem](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ApbPvJpWNI&list=PLb9506_-6FMEAziqDSqac9ShAALsp7kIF&index=4), and as lead planner and moderator for the July 2021 webinar during State of the Map, [Ethical Mapping with and for People Living in Vulnerability](https://2021.stateofthemap.org/sessions/UVEAX9/).
- Both webinars featured highly diverse speakers in terms of geography, lived experience, expertise, language, etc.
- Both webinars challenged speakers and audience members to think deeply about serious challenges within the open mapping community and humanitarian mapping.
- The first webinar was featured in HOT’s annual report, under the [Global Positioning section](https://stories.hotosm.org/humanitarian-openstreetmap-team/#group-section-Global-Positioning-Q4qq6eDGwT).
- Contributing to the WG’s updated [Terms of Reference](https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Humanitarian_OSM_Team/Working_groups/Community/Terms_of_Reference).
I have been an active voting member, which includes attending the 2020 Q&A sessions for the Board of Directors candidates, attending the 2020 annual member meeting, voting in the Board election, and observing a few Board meetings.
In addition, I collaborate regularly with HOT through my professional role as Program Director for YouthMappers’ Everywhere She Maps campaign by engaging in resource and idea sharing with HOT staff members.
Yeap I served as board member in 2017, been a voting members for a while. I also helped to organize State of Map Taiwan in 2017, promote HOT in MSF event in Taiwan at 2018, and actively promote/use OSM data in disaster response sector for the recent years. Got the idea of ontology for data quality (could be the profile starting from disaster related scenarios) and perhaps this could be my next contribute to HOT/OSM.
As an introduction, I must that state that these are all challenging questions, and nuanced, policy-relevant answers to them requires a fine-grained understand of the operations of the current board and HOT activities. While I try to stay current on the actions of the board and organization, there would obviously need to be some additional learning as part of onboarding as HOT board member.
With the rollout of the new pricing model to support use of the Tasking Manager, there was concern on the part of US government staff about how to participate. Given my knowledge of government procurement, I worked to organize a conversations with key government stakeholders, as well as to communicate to HOT leadership about the specific challenges this model would introduce, advising to find an alternative model.
In a similar vein, new field-based mapping projects underway in the US government utilize a similar regional hub model to what was proposed with the Audacious project. I facilitated meetings between HOT leadership and government stakeholders to discuss the respective programs and to look for mutually reinforcing models of effort.
Like any year, I conducted outreach and training (featuring HOT US Inc and its tools - HOT Export and Tasking Manager) in the Academics (Université de Caen and Ecole Centrale Nantes). I ran also similar training in 2020-2021 in research labs in France (Lped Marseille) and Guinea (PNLTHA), for NGOs (Gret) and for journalists (CFIMedias staffs and consultants in France, Niger, Cameroon, Madagascar and Ivory Coast).
I took an active part in the HOT US Inc governance discussion for Board replacement to make sure our organization had Board officers with full legitimacy and I ran for the Jan 2021 election. I took part in post electoral discussion at the GWG and with our Chair and Community lead to seek improving/consolidating our electoral procedures and our discussions (more polling on top of discussions). I took seriously the Membership survey and assisted to a couple of Board meetings.
I also took and active part in the OSMF conversations about topics that are of interest for HOT US Inc life and project activities: the call to take action as well as Local Chapter (LCs) application.
I am an active member of the Data Quality Working Group, participate in the annual HOT Summit and elections, I also occasionally contributed to mapping projects. All this in addition to promoting the mission of HOT to professional humanitarian, development, and geospatial organizations.
I am a staff member at the Wikimedia Foundation which does use OpenStreetMap data and provide grants related to free knowledge. It is possible there could be a financial conflict of interest with my relationship within those organizations. Both require me to declare conflict of interest and that is what I would do if anything changes in the way the orgs operate.
I am also a board member at Software Freedom Conservancy which is the umbrella organization of Outreachy. I do not participate in the day to day activities of either or with regards to Outreachy. If something changed I would declare it.
I am like millions of people a contributor to and user of OSM data. My work is detached from the work of HOT and is in the domain of software development. I am, however, passionate about open source geospatial software and a contributor to it. I also use a lot of open source in my work. I was also the founding member of the OSGeo Foundations Australian-New Zealand chapter. I currently don't see any conflict of interest.
I do not see any major or financial potential conflicts of interest if I am elected to a board position. Through my role at YouthMappers, I do have a role in a potential project that would include collaboration with HOT’s Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Hub. The project has not yet received final approval, so I do not want to share extensive details now, but if it is approved I will share more information and take the necessary steps to avoid a conflict of interest.
I do not see any conflict of interests with me serving on the board. I serve as a voting member and would serve as a Board member under my own affiliation and do not represent the company where I currently work. In addition, my actions and communications as a voting and board member would be my own views and not any views of the company. If there are any situations that arise where I would personally benefit from the decision, I will declare the conflict and excuse myself from participating in the decision.
At the current time, no. Like many people in the HOT ecosystem, I make my living as a geospatial consultant with an expertise in OSM data. The question of conflict of interest, as I’ve practiced it, has been as a mechanism to surface potential conflicts and mitigate them. Having a conflict of interest policy establishes some basic guidelines for behavior, but almost more importantly provides a framework for recognizing and dealing with potential conflicts. All that said, I have no problem recusing myself from votes, or even stepping down from the board were an unreconcilable conflict to arise.
Posting here again my candidacy statement as well as my answers to Pete’s questions during Board Election Jan 2021.
Candidacy statement :
I want to state that in so doing, I have no conflict of interest (CoI) with HOT US Inc and the other organizations I co-founded since then and in which I am currently engaged. I have been working as a freelancer for many organizations including the French association Les Libres Géographes (LLg) that I co-founded and of which I am not a Board member. Whilst not holding a formal continued work contract with LLg, I checked with my LLg friends and Colleagues/Board members that serving a 6 months term at the HOT US Inc Board would be compatible with my engagement in LLg. I did what other hotties did prior to me in such occasions (Dale Kunce at the American Red Cross [ARC] or Jorieke Vyncke and Pete Masters at Medecins Sans Frontières [MSF]). Shall a CoI situation apply, I’ll comply to the HOT US Inc CoI handling policy like other former Directors who were staffs of other organizations or freelancers working in this domain. Furthermore, my engagement within the French association Projet Espace OSM Francophone (Projet EOF) does not constitute a CoI neither. The association carries out its activities (which mostly revolve around local OSM animation) via the voluntary contribution of its members while its Bylaws exclude paid work (in French “prestation de service”) from its resources
I provided more details on CoI in response to Pete Master questions during the Jan 2021 Board replacement election, they read here.
As a potential Conflict of Interest, I will note my current position as Principal Consultant with Critigen, a small geospatial company. Critigen (under SpatialDev) has previously contracted with HOT and in the event new contracting opportunities arise I will abstain from participation on both sides.
I think HOT has a process and method to engage communities. I really appreciate that need has not been lost as the organization grows. I do think there is still difficulty in engaging the most vulnerable people to map themselves though.
HOT has done well to professionalize its operations. It has also had huge success in attracting donor money through Audacious. This has helped focus the work of HOT and a lot of the friction that we saw in the early days of HOT when disagreements turned somewhat sour has dissipated. The challenge now is to continue this trajectory while keeping the mapping community engaged. This is harder than it sounds, since there is an inherent difference in the culture of the early OSM mapping community that HOT evolved from and the professionalism expected from a large NGO operating across the world. While OSM grew around the idea of mapping for fun, HOT is very much mission driven. HOT must make sure that the original spirit of mapping for the fun and joy of is never lost.
What is working well:
- Sustainability - HOT clearly has been highly successful in raising funds and creating an infrastructure that will help ensure the organization’s long-term sustainability.
- Decentralization - HOT’s commitment to decentralization is critically important, and I’ve been very glad to see the creation of the regional hubs over the past year. HOT has spent many years developing a great reputation and establishing relationships with key stakeholders in local open mapping and humanitarian communities, which has paid off as they have been able to hire highly experienced and knowledgeable staff to lead and manage the Hubs.
- HOT has made excellent staffing choices over the years and has continued to do so even as its hiring needs have expanded dramatically over the past year. I always walk away from my interactions with HOT staff members with total confidence in their abilities and lots of excitement about the work they are doing.
What is not working well:
- Engagement from the voting membership - see my response to question #6 for more details.
- I have seen references to staff burnout and high levels of stress among staff in board meeting minutes and working group meeting minutes. This is a major concern to me, not only because staff burnout can have severely negative effects on HOT’s ability to function, but also because I deeply care about HOT’s staff and know that many of them are so dedicated to their work that they will work to the point of burnout, and beyond, if protections and guardrails are not put in place. Staff turnover would significantly hinder HOT’s ability to achieve its goals.
- I have worked previously in human resources consulting for US school districts who are facing severe staff shortages, burnout, and high turnover rates, and I am a certified Professional in Human Resources (via the [Human Resources Certification Institute](https://www.hrci.org/)), and I believe my experiences and skills related to human resource management would serve the board and HOT well.
- While HOT clearly values its collaborations and partnerships with local OSM communities and the communities where they work, I have heard complaints over the past year that perhaps HOT is not doing enough to prioritize local community members’ voices and needs. HOT could immediately improve this by prioritizing translation of resources and communications to languages other than English. The Community Team has launched an effort to do so, and as a board member, I would do whatever possible to support this initiative.
We are great from the perspective of operation, we got good projects, we had our reputation in humanitarian sector, and we incubate good local communities. Maybe we can broaden the participation and the topics of mapping (e.g. the violence and conflict mapping mentioned by Jorieke), bring it up and make it transparent to our community.
Cleary with Audacious, grant writing and new revenue capture are going well. From what I can tell, technology development is not only stable, but increasing in capacity. Mapswipe efforts are driving down the barrier to entry to mapping, making it easier for non-professionals to meaningfully contribute. Coordination with large corporate players in the OSM ecosystem is occurring, though I can’t speak to whether this has yielded positive financial contributions. And it appears there are more tasks published, mapped, and validated than ever before.
I feel deeper inquiry with staff and committees will be necessary for me to understand what isn’t working well.
HOT US Inc can be proud of the centrality it gained across the development and humanitarian sectors, its network of partners and donors, its ability to operate large and complex projects on many aspects of the mapping field, its field anchorage, in a word its ability to autonomously operate and stand where little actors stood to support localizing aid following the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit… Essentially, HOT US Inc can play a decisive role as an incubator of individuals, groups and help shape the OSM ecosystem in the Global South in a way that none classic actors will usually do.
See additional responses to members questions for the areas which deserve improvements in the organization as well as the analysis about HOT US Inc limits featured in Tyler diary note (The past, present and future of HOT that I share.
A tough question to answer at this point. Since the Audacious grant HOT has begun to assemble a team and feel it is a bit early to make assumptions on what is going well and what isn’t.
I think with the size of HOT now and the amount of funding it has received it is unreasonable to expect the board to be operational. Staff are able to spend far more time thinking about and executing on the mission of HOT than a volunteer board member could. I think it is vital the board remain focused to help with strategy and provide the oversight as required by the role. The more time the board spends on operational work the less time it has for that.
I think as the board is small and not the day job for any of the board members they need to focus on strategy. The board members should avoid getting into the operational side of HOT. I see the job of the board to think strategically about the challenges ahead and help the staff stay aware of them.
I believe HOT’s board must focus on strategy rather than operations. HOT has put in place a very qualified, skilled staff who are capable of operationalizing HOT’s strategy and mission. It should be the role of the board to ensure HOT’s strategy aligns with the organization’s vision and mission plus the needs of voting members and community members. HOT has set very ambitious goals for the Audacious project, and it should be the role of the board to ensure HOT is on track to meet those goals, help the organization develop strategic relationships and partnerships, and generally provide guidance on the [“big-picture”](https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/big-picture).
Operational board is to assist HOT organization/community running smoothly and grow as expected, and the strategic board can envision the potential & future, connect the resources to help HOT to get to its objective.
I believe now is the time for the HOT board to become the strategic board that has been discussed for years. Moving towards a strategic board is a healthy step for the organization in order to focus on forward-looking planning, recommend directions for long term success, and work with the staff and members to execute on a strategic plan.
There will be times where a board needs to be more operational than strategic and vise-versa. Weighing in on operational areas is an important part of ensuring the organization is operating at a capacity for reaching the mission. But prioritizing and constantly focusing on operational issues distracts from the primary need of a board for HOT which is about forward-looking planning and growth. An important part of a strategic board will be helping set goals and objectives for the organization and continuously envisioning what is next as they define and work to achieve the mission.
I think it is key that HOT pivot to a strategic board, and this is one of the central reasons I am putting myself forward. A professional staff executing mission is how an organization succeeds, and at this point in HOT’s evolution, the Board needs to focus on strategic direction and helping sculpt the future path of the organization. Obviously these are not binary, but rather a spectrum, and the pivot will be gradual. But if we envision a HOT with 5x the resources it currently has (which is a future we should plan for), then how do we pivot Board operations to be more inline with what will be needed then.
Paradoxically this question shows regularly at each Board election while since 2014, 2015 elections the organization has adopted and has been operating under the paradigm of a strategic board and an Executive Director (ED) in charge of the operations. These two entities are in continued relations as put forth by Tyler’s OSM diary entry “What HOT’s Board Needs: a “Top 5 list” produced at the event of this election. One may discuss about how much of a model of strategic board has been implemented as well as question the nature and intensity of the relations between Board and ED within such a scheme, but essentially the organizational model is set and is unlikely to evolve outside such paradigm. Within this structure, while fulfilling their core function of representing the members, ensuring the organization remains compliant with its Bylaws, focused on its mandate and strategic orientations while overseeing the operations, Board Officers will act within a strategic perspective. In their interactions with the ED they will provide inputs for consideration in the operations as well as learning from the operations. The more thorough their experience is, the more relevant are their contribution as strategist and providers of inputs/guidance for the operations as suggested by Tyler in his diary entry. Out of the “Top 5 list” of researched profiles, the regional tour guide and the humanitarian disruptor are the ones that match the experience I gained navigating for +20 years across the development and humanitarian sectors in various positions (bio.
I am more supportive of the HOT board using their energy towards defining strategy and leaving operational tasks for staff.
I think better map data can definitely benefit the humanitarian organizations working in those areas. I think HOT should do a risk analysis to ensure it is possible to engage in a non-harmful way. While I think mapping remotely would be relatively straightforward, having further map contributions happening from within those locations needs to be approached very carefully.
Yes as long as it doesn't jeopardize the safety of staff or volunteers. Conflict regions are inherently high risk and unpredictable. We need to know the threshold of risk we are able to take on. Having a simple toolkit for risk assessment would be useful (assuming such a toolkit doesn't exist already). Building trust and partnering with organisations that already operate in conflict environments.
I do not have extensive professional or personal experience working in spaces or with people suffering specifically from violence and conflict, so I will simply say that while I’m sure many of these places could potentially benefit from increased access to geographic data and mapping, above all else HOT needs to prioritize the safety of its staff, volunteers, and partners. I look forward to learning more about what impact HOT could potentially have in these circumstances and the potential risks involved.
“That missing maps are no longer a factor in human suffering or loss of life in humanitarian crises“ is one of the objectives for our Audacious objectives. Also, to get to 1M mappers all over the world, I believe those humanitarian issues should be considered just like inter-commutable diseases or disasters. We might need a good pitch deck to let our community knows more about why mapping can change/help those situations.
Yes. I’ve spent the better part of a decade working on issues associated with complex emergencies where violence and conflict are part of the issue. It makes things harder. The operational security, data risks, perceptions are all harder to manage. But that said, the value of good data also increases. A concerted move by HOT into this space should not be taken lightly, but I think the impact could be tremendous.
This should definitively become a greater focus for the organization within the overarching humanitarian principle (“do not harm”) and in an adequately coordinated manner within the humanitarian system and with trusted partners. This may take first the form of remote mapping activation and second field mapping work in partnership with experienced partners with a view of supporting the emerging of local OSM community across the humanitarian sector. The organization is now in a position to dedicate resources to these long lasting complex crisis that are not under media coverage and which deserve a specific and voluntary effort. HOT US Inc can learn from the Central African Republic (CAR) activation started in 2012 and lead by Séverin Menard with a few experienced mappers whose continued commitment over years allow for a comprehensive remote mapping of this territory.
I am a firm believer that the safety of humanitarian workers is of utmost important and there are organizations out there with knowledge, training, and experience to work in conflict areas. Currently very few HOT staff having training to operate in these environments. That said I do think there is a role for HOT in these environments and as a first step it would make sense to work directly under Security Officers and other humanitarians with proper training and experience.
I was the primary creator of HOT’s governance model in 2010, the size of the org, the volunteers and the budget were not at all what I expected to happen. If I were to recreate a governance model today I would have a mix of types of board members so it would be possible to create board members for specific areas of expertise without the requirement of being a member.
I also think the membership model wasn’t that well thought out; it has also meant different things to different people over the years. While adjustments have been made I think clear membership requirements from the beginning would have made it easier. Though the loose membership requirements have allowed us to grow outside of the networks of a few individuals over the past 10 years.
Unfortunately, I am not involved in the governance committee/working group but I would also differ with them for feedback and advice. I would also be in favour of consulting professionals from within the community or related fields, to seek advice on best practices around governance.
Strengths of HOT’s governance model include:
- Its proven commitment to transparency (many board meetings are open to observers, the Executive Director and board members make themselves available to speak with voting members and community members, and the board’s meeting minutes are published for all to review);
- Elections for board seats - many other nonprofit and NGO boards are exclusive and undemocratic, because those boards recruit new members solely from existing members’ personal relationships and networks, which makes it very difficult to create a diverse board. HOT’s system of having voting members elect the board is not perfect, but it is much more fair and democratic than other nonprofit boards of which I’ve been a member or observer;
Weaknesses of HOT’s governance model include:
- Lack of engagement from many voting members. I have attended member meetings where we couldn’t take any action because we didn’t meet quorum, and it’s my impression that a small (but growing!) percent of voting members make the majority of contributions to HOT. For example, I acknowledge that the Community WG must make more of an effort to recruiting voting members to join the group, but it is disheartening that many of the working group meetings I attend only have 1-3 voting members in attendance, and at least that many, if not more, HOT staff members in attendance.
- As a result, I fully support the [proposed amendment to the bylaws to retire inactive members](https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lEAC_oqPM_LM_PY4rwLs2FjWHfpg7DDKiuHrbXoG-F0/edit). This should not be meant as a “punishment” for anyone who has other priorities that preclude them from fully engaging as a voting member but rather as good governance that ensures we can meet quorum requirements during member meetings and can focus outreach efforts on voting members who are committed to contributing to HOT.
- This is not HOT’s fault, but the community of people who work at the intersection of open mapping/OSM + humanitarian response and/or international and community development is relatively small, which can present challenges related to determining conflicts of interest and how staff, contractors, grant awardees, etc. who are also voting members should be allowed to participate in voting membership activities (particularly voting for the board and bylaw amendments). I’m really glad to see the Governance Working Group has been actively thinking about these issues, and I think this topic will continue to require dedicated attention and innovative approaches.
I believe the purpose of board members is the assistance to HOT (from the various perspectives to plan and operate). With the elected board and the invited strategic board, I think it’s fine for the governance model of HOT so far.
I believe it is time for a change in the HOT governance model. At its founding, and until recently, the HOT professional staff needed a “working board” to supplement efforts to build the organization. This was the approach that was needed, but it should not be the envisioned end state for the organization. With increased resources, made manifest in the form of increased professional staff, the needs of a board change. The organization now has the capacity to set its agenda, which should be developed in concert with relevant committees composed of Board members or other active HOT members, and presented to the Board by professional staff as action items for approval and then appropriate oversight. The Board changes from carrying out work, to providing guidance to HOT leadership, helping structure smart policies in alignment with by-laws and budget realities. Let the Board focus on advisory functions, governance and oversight, and advocacy for the organization.
In the current nominated membership and Board election process, I’m concerned HOT will increasingly struggle to recruit and seat the types of people needed for the latter set of functions. The threshold of being a great OSM mapper, being nominated and elected as a member, then running for a Board election will not scale for HOT going forward. This is not to say that the original model should be completely discarded. I could see any number of hybrid models where a certain number of Board members could be appointed by a smaller committee composed of Board, staff, and members, and a certain number of seats would use the current model of election by members.
HOT US Inc relies on a robust and proven governance model. It used the by default model under which one can incorporate an NGO in the US in 2010. Most NGOs and associations of our field operate under a similar or close model worldwide. This model has been fully made ours over the past decade and it offers a solid basis which can be adjusted to make sure the organization structure stay relevant as per the directions set forth by the members with respect to our mandate. There’s of course areas for improvements such as corporate information sharing, organization of public discussion during elections or about governance/technical topics generally participated only by a small sub-set of the membership, development of electronic polls, affirmative actions in favor of minorities and against violence they may endure in concrete response to the issues listed in Call to take action… and in articulation with the work happening at the OSMF Local Chapter Community WG (LCCWG). The on-going decentralization of the organization with the emerging of regional hubs will call for reflection and changes in the 2010 organizational structure to define the best articulations between the core part of the organization and the regional hubs so that the overall structure ensure a relevance of the organization with respect to local dynamics of the OSM project it shall support. This is not a new topic for the organization: thoughts and discussions had revolved around decentralization in 2014 and 2015 (see 2014, 2015 manifestos), HOT US Inc partners within the MSF and the RedCross movements provide inspiring robust and proven models for this reflection, UN common humanitarian services as well as the World Humanitarian Services and Great Bargain are materials from which a lot can be learned.
So far HOT US Inc has been relying on a fuzzy and broad definition of volunteers. Anyone using the organization tool (specifically the tasking manager) end up being counted as a volunteer without any explicit and conscious form of agreement. These metrics are being used as proxy to community engagement to higlight the centrality of HOT and heavily used in communication and donor relations (see 2019 SotM “Mapathon, mapathon, mapathon” talk). With the size and centrality reached by the organization in our field of practices, it’s time to collectively think through the questions raised by this (mis)use of volunteer in the organization and consider formalizing a proper volunteering status harnessing from the “classic” practices of partners like Map Action, CartONG, GIS Corps in this area while being open to other possible models.
The on-going vote on Bylaws modification and conversation about staffs CoI handling and a proposed Outside of their role in implementing projects, staffs are key to the life of the organization through the domain expertise they developed in their work and their contribution to the collective thinking, talking and deciding of the organization is fundamental. There’s of course risk in terms of membership control and CoI that the organization is currently trying to tackle through the Bylaws modification vote with a general sense that this topic deserves more attention. On an another stance, keeping harmonious relations with the OSM actors and notably the OSMF, is cornerstone to the relevance of HOT US Inc mandate. A specific type of cooperative in France called a SCIC, may furnish us with some food for thoughts.
Cooperative models are used in the humanitarian field (GNU Coop in Italy for example) but also at large scale in other industries energy, transport or housing with proven results.
In such model, HOT US Inc membership would fit into several “collèges” with different weights in the overall membership votes: - Non staff members - Staff members - Partners - Volunteers Idea to be developed soon-
The most important role the board can take is oversight. Is the growth inline with the organization's vision and mission? Is the Executive Director fulfilling their role in that execution?
- Helping to define the long-term strategic vision of HOT.
- Ensuring that budget priorities align with agreed strategic vision.
- Listening to ideas of the community and staff when helping define the strategic direction of HOT.
The board plays a key role in ensuring accountability and transparency from HOT’s leadership. This role is especially important during times of rapid growth, which HOT is currently undergoing. The board must also establish measures and provide guidance to ensure the long-term sustainability of HOT beyond the Audacious project funding.
Communication and sharing, board should listen and talk to the staff and community, also share the expertise and experience for HOT to grow towards the audacious goals.
The most important role the board needs to take is reviewing and advising on the financial and personnel planning that needs to be done to ensure sustainability of the organization for years to come. The board must take on responsibilities to understand and contribute towards annual budget, headcount, and goals planning to ensure the organization continues to operate and achieve its mission. This is done through a budgeting and planning process with staff to determine alignment and evaluation with meeting yearly goals, and hold the Executive Director accountable for developing and achieving these budget and planning goals.
As stated above, I believe Board roles include advisory support to professional staff, governance and oversight, fiduciary vigilance, and advocacy, to include fund raising where possible, for the organization.
See reply to Question 4 on Operational vs Strategic Board.
This question is for Board members.
I think HOT’s current goals make sense with regards to the Audacious project. I think the impact of the hubs needs to be measured in the next year or two after they are operating for a while. I think the hubs is a crucial decentralization move, but I think further look at if even smaller “mini-hubs” make sense especially in some of the larger regions.
There is a focus within the Audacious grant at making sure women and girls are on the map. I would like the org to all especially look at historically marginalized people beyond gender.
I support HOT’s current, ambitious goals. I was thrilled to see recent efforts by the Open Mapping Hub Asia-Pacific to better understand women’s barriers to participation and leadership in OSM communities and to read that over 50% of HOT’s staff are women, and I believe gender equality should be even more of a priority and emphasis for HOT moving forward.
Inclusion is one of the keys to achieve our audacious project. Having an environment to talk to each other, to share and recognized by community, and to engage various of stakeholders towards audacious objectives.
I think that the goals HOT has set out are on the right track to help achieve impact globally. The regional goals and emphasis on running parallel tracks of mapping, community building, and technology advancement all point in the right direction.
I believe there are two key areas that could be improved and would advocate for these as a Board member:
- In many areas, the local OSM community is nascent and spread out. Growing the numbers of long term contributors may not be the right goal but growing the number of mechanisms for how individuals can engage in the short term will enable a newer and sustainable way of contribution. We need to continue to strengthen the spaces for communities to engage.
- Strengthening the technology direction. There has been great strides in understanding user needs and defining mechanisms for surfacing those needs. Areas of improvement would be to increase the pace of technology advancement to support the growth of user contributions. We need to continue to evolve the tooling to meet local user needs.
By design, the goals of Audacious are expansive. Without more direct understanding on the level of execution and challenges, it is hard to speculate what needs improvement. The bold vision that led to the Audacious funding does not, and should not, be limited to just this line of funding, rather this should be the “north star” of the organization – a clarifying vision the persists when the challenges of day to day operations can make the big picture harder to see. From what I know at the moment, I like the bold vision, but would need more information to know if its working or not.
Audacious shall bring HOT US Inc to drastically put local community support at the core of its mandate
The organization shall define the below-listed activities/priorities :
Be a learning organization about OSM and OSMF in all of its activities and with its partners and donors.
As a learning organization, it shall consider building a package of “affirmative” actions to effectively address the minority issues listed in the call to take action. Resources and staff have to be tasked with organizational, linguistic, writing/talking/presenting capacity building activities to make inclusion of membership despite linguistic and cultural divide a reality within the organization.
Fundamentally, the organization has to assume more directly and more boldly a role of incubator of individuals, collectives and local ecosystems in the territories where it operates. It has to renew with the comprehensive approaches rolled out in French-speaking countries (Haiti and Africa) where any project was working as an operator contributing to the emerging of a local OSM ecosystem, community and structures. It has to harness on the multi-years micro grants experiences. These experiences have to be taken at a larger level as probably envisioned within Audacious. HOT US Inc is in a unique position to fulfill such a task (see above reply to Mikel).
I believe the current goals laid out by HOT are reasonable for the second year of Audacious. Maybe a few items are behind schedule but I expect things to speed up in 2022.
It is time for the 3 year strategy to be updated. I think participating in the development of that plan, performing a retrospective on the current plan and determining if a longer time horizon in strategy would benefit the org should be reviewed.
- Losing sight of HOT's vision.
- Not listening to the diverse range of communities that HOT has to serve.
- Not cultivating the reasons for the community to keep mapping into the future.
- Not learning from constructive criticism.
- Not carefully managing budget and resource management to ensure long term operations.
- Overstretching to try to solve problems out of HOTs capacity.
What stuck with me during the theory of change workshops was the importance of having confident and self-sufficient local communities. With support from HOT at all levels of society highlighting the importance of the work done by OSM community, HOT volunteers and the HOT staff. So, ensuring a strong thriving community which trusts the intentions of the staff and leadership is the key challenge in my opinion.
HOT’s greatest strategic challenge is scaling up and increasing its impact while improving its mechanisms for actively listening to its community members, stakeholders, and beneficiaries and taking their needs and priorities into account. It’s my impression that the funders behind the Audacious project are supportive of HOT’s decentralization and localization, but HOT should be thinking strategically about cases when the priorities of its funders or other powerful stakeholders are in conflict with the priorities of local communities and how to address such conflict. If I am elected, I will be eager to learn more details on what HOT has done so far, outside of establishing the regional hubs, to strike this balance, and I will advocate for and amplify the voices of community members who have a stake in HOT’s work. I will make myself available to all voting members and community members who want to provide feedback to or raise concerns to the board and will do what I can to ensure concerns are addressed. As I mention elsewhere, I will strongly support efforts to increase inclusion within HOT through translation and localization of resources, meetings, and communications.
We now have clear objectives, we shall trust the staff, trust the community, properly review the measurable output, be agile and keep aligning the HOT operation towards the goals. There’s no perfect solution for it, yet I think we can have mutual understanding to fulfill the objectives, and make impact to the world, as what we believe from the very beginning.
I believe the greatest challenge HOT is facing strategically is how to expand the regional hubs in a way that strengthens the local humanitarian OSM community capacity while achieving results in the tight timeframe.
Growth of local communities, strengthening capacity, and building useful tooling that supports this work takes significant time. As HOT is nearly half-way through the Audacious Project, there is a tight timeframe to achieve the goals that were set out.
Scaling up. The first thing I would need to do is listen, then work with committees to develop policies that staff can execute.
Decentralization is definitively the largest challenge challenge the organization already started to grapple with; this question has been addressed above (see Arnalie and Mikel) Membership inclusion and affirmative action for minorities and against violences of all sort in HOT. Keeping the OSM community as HOT US Inc DNA.
This Question is for Board members
This is something I hadn’t considered recently. I’m curious if volunteers and members are facing greater burnout than they were previously? Are there resources available to staff to deal with burnout that we should and could be offering to our volunteers? How are the expectations of the org of volunteers leading to this burnout?
For organized events it would help to make burnout front and center as an issue so that people can bring it up during events or training. Mapathons that run over several days should be conducted with due care for rotating teams, taking breaks and having an OHS staff member. Make it easy for people to speak out and seek help if they are experiencing burn out. Lastly we need to thank the mappers, highlight their work and perhaps even consider awards.
I think we need to consider the issue of burnout both for HOT volunteers and for paid staff. I addressed my concerns about burnout among staff in question # 3. My recommendations for supporting HOT volunteers include:
- Increased volunteer recognition and appreciation, both formally and informally. Even a simple note of appreciation from the board or Executive Director can go a long way to helping volunteers feel like they are valued and are making a contribution to HOT.
- Making it explicitly normal and accepted that volunteers will experience fluctuations in the amount of time and energy they can devote to HOT. Volunteers should be encouraged to step back if and when they need to due to other professional and personal responsibilities and eagerly welcomed back when they have the bandwidth to volunteer again.
- Lots of support and communication from volunteer leaders and HOT staff members. Volunteers should have clarity on their role(s) and responsibilities and understand what is expected of them.
- Volunteers must also feel empowered to propose new ideas and lead working groups and other initiatives.
(Many of these ideas come from my own experiences as a volunteer for HOT and other organizations.)
Burnout in community happens, so the responsibility of paid staff is getting heavier. We should facilitate more communications so we “speak out before burnout”. We also could take turns (flying geese paradigm) to be responsible for the tasks towards HOT’s audacious goals that potentially burnout community members.
The key is to understand the range of forces that motivate volunteers to participate in HOT, then don’t break them those aspects of the organization. The double edge sword of increased paid staff is the ability to execute on coordinated goals, but if it comes at the price of breaking the central dynamic that made the organization great in the first place, then it isn’t worth it. That said, many examples shows the blend of paid staff and volunteers can co-exist…the Red Cross is not at risk of losing volunteer effort. One key is to ensure that volunteers have the visceral feedback that their efforts are directly supporting humanitarian operations, knowing that their work is making a difference is extraordinarily powerful for motivating and retaining volunteers.
Additionally, I think it is incumbent on HOT to ensure that long-term, high performing volunteers do not feel like they are shouldering all the burden, and that is best accomplished by a pipeline of recruitment and training of new volunteers. A steady stream of well-trained reinforcements, that aren’t causing more problems than they are solving is important. In this vein, the work of MapSwipe and Tasking Manager enhancements to make mapping more approachable and divisible into smaller, more atomic mapping and validation steps takes on increased importance.
How can we support HOT volunteers who may experience burnout as we work towards HOT's Audacious goals (including Voting Member and non-Voting Member volunteers), while the number of HOT paid staff grows?
First of all exhaustion and burnout have to be taken very seriously in HOT US Inc for staffs, voting members and volunteers. It’s to be expected that our organization has a solid handling of this topic and it’s the duty of each Board Officer to make sure that this is the case. It’s equally fundamental that this corporate attention to health as a workplace issue applies also to voting members and volunteers passionately engaged in the organization. It’s unfortunately quite common to see committed individuals who, caught by passion, are working too hard and pushing themselves too close or beyond their limits while being unable to listen to the exhaustion signals sent out by their bodies. The same individual and collective regulation mechanisms set forth for staffs shall apply there and dedicated HR capacities of the organization shall be mobilized. In the case, none of this is in place in the NGO, then it’s urgent to keep up to speed with the right practices and also learn from what other NGOs (MapAction, CartONG, GIS Corps) who leverage volunteers are doing to mitigate burnout. Reviewing also how other volunteering technical communities (Stand By Task Force, OSMF, WikiMedia... ) are doing shall compliment a review of best practices by organizations. Asides of this approach, continued attention to the structural/organization reasons for exhaustion/burnout shall prevail via sound “project” management for our organization activities as well as increased volunteering within the voting membership and the volunteers.
Burnout is a very difficult issue to manage as people burn out in different ways for different reasons. One idea could be to create a feedback loop for volunteers and paid mappers to engage with one another. Another may be to highlight the success of individual volunteers and their contributions to helping HOT achieve success.
I think it should be considered if the structure of the voting members should change. Will volunteers be likely to volunteer only with the regional hubs and not be involved in the global org? The hubs have not been operating long enough to determine this. If so though the structure of the membership and how the board works should be analyzed so there is better volunteer and community representation beyond the global org.
I think this is a positive shift. Regional should allow for more focused and even local clusters to grow. Active voting members should be supported in running mapping events, access to data collection equipment and training. This does come with the risk of overcommitting. Thus careful management of resources is needed to ensure a sustainable regional growth.
I think HOT’s shift to a regional structure will be highly beneficial to voting members, especially those members who are located in the regions with Hubs. I imagine there will be increased opportunities for voting members in those regions to engage with their local Hub and we should encourage such engagement. We do need to consider how this will affect committees and working groups - will it make more sense in the future for the Hubs to have some of their own committees and working groups, which can focus more deeply on local needs and priorities? If yes, how can we ensure the Hubs’ working groups are not duplicating their work and still collaborate with other regions when necessary? For example, I can see many benefits to each Hub having its own Community Working Group, but I would want to ensure that mechanisms are in place to encourage communication and collaboration between regional or local working groups.
Strengthen the regional/local community is good in many ways including reducing the language barrier and harmonizing the open culture to local. Voting member is usually the opinion leader of local/regional community. As a result, about the impact of the shift from global to regional structure, it could be good to HOT.
Regional hubs can assist the voting members and the local communities to work more aligned to the vision/mission of HOT. The active voting members may talk with regional hubs more often for the harmonization of local/personal interests and HOT objectives.
As the number of HOT members increases, the challenges of coordination increase. The question is, can the current membership structure effectively onboard and integrate the number of new members that will be needed to effectively represent the new, or enlarged, areas of HOT operations. The number of time zones alone will make committee work a real challenge. How that impacts the existing membership will be to make some elements of the work harder and I expect it could lead to attrition of participation and members. How to balance that will be one of the core challenges of this phase of growth.
This is tough to answer, as the HOT membership is often a well-traveled group, and it is difficult to know if a member in some area of the planet has a deep affiliation with a place half a world away. So it is difficult to envision a policy that would limit participation in any way. Yet at the same time, it seems that local coordination in the individual Hubs area of responsibility would be needed. Honestly, I would like to review how various multi-national corporations and NGOs balance global presence, and expect there are various models that could be insightful. As a baseline position, I think keeping barriers to participation to a minimum is the best policy, and would only want to act to limit participation if there was either an intentional strategy or evidence it was disruptive.
That’s an interesting question which fundamentally revolves around the activity of voting members and the associated roles they can play in more decentralized organization. Understanding the motivations of the voting members, engaging with them so that all individuals felt informed, included and eventually turned to be active in many ways in the organization individually or within a working-group has been challenging since the early days within our centralized organization. This challenge is still pretty much there in 2021 if one thinks about the bare minimal criteria set for defining voting members acceptable activity at the Governance WG in the context of the Bylaw revision. A more decentralized structure devolving more responsibility locally may translate into more ownership of the organization associated to a more diversified and continued participation; decentralization is a debated topic in political/social sciences which may or may not be associated with increased participation in the public affairs.
I think, anyone has to be humble in this question and our focus shall be (or remain) making of HOT US Inc an enabling environment for the members notably via the sharing of information and continued animation of WG and various activities by staffs. Members activity and decentralization have been at the core of my engagements in HOT US Inc electoral (or strategic) discussions (2014 manifesto, 2015 manifesto).
In terms of structural shift, we will see a deepening of HQ/core support functions not only to large field projects (like Uganda and Tanzania) but also to these new regional hubs (RH) brought to life in the context of Audacious. By a cascading effect, these regional entities will also animate and support smaller entities. The support by HQ and RH will be more diversified; the same goes for RHQ animation. For voting members, this means that the span of skills likely to be contributed to the organization will be more diversified and may also yield more interest among members with eventually an increased participation.
Depending on how far the organization decides to go in the decentralization process, the existing membership may evolve drastically.
The shift from a global to regional structure should allow for broader participation and more opportunities for members. The most engagement from voting members seems to coincide with the annual election which is a global event. Regional Hubs should be able to support and work with voting members on a local scale getting to the roots of what HOT does best.
1. The HOT board is accountable to the membership. I think it is important to understand the challenges of the membership and also recruit new members.
2. The board should become further strategic. Being a board member shouldn’t necessarily be a weekly time commitment. I think the amount of hours required will be the same, but what is focused on might require bursts of work.
3. The HOT board should not be involved in the daily work or challenges of HOT staff unless brought forward by the Executive Director. If there are situations where org policy needs to change it is the responsibility of the board to understand and vote on those policies.
4. The HOT board should make sure the org’s activities continue to be aligned with the free world map goals of the OSM community.
Global OSM Community: Keep them involved all the way. All decisions should have the OSM Community in mind. Without them there is no OSM and there is no HOT. Time should be devoted to having regular communication with the OSM community so that a strong circle of trust between the communities exists.
Membership: HOT membership consists of people with a lot of valuable experience in the domain that HOT operates, namely disaster response, economic development and related humanitarian work. The HOT board should be making an effort to listen to the members and stay alert to their ideas.
Board: Helping bring diverse ideas, sharing the workload equally as much as possible. Helping keep eye on the strategic goals.
Staff: As a duty of care to the staff as the organization grows the Board should be stewards for moving towards a sustainable future for HOT. We need to work at a sustainable pace and ensure staff feel their work is valued and that they have a board that is committed to the long term future of HOT.
- Membership: The board has an important responsibility to keep HOT accountable, including to the membership. Board members must ensure transparency is preserved and they are responsible for bringing attention to any concerns or questions the voting membership has.
- Board: board members should support each other, ensure new members receive robust training and onboarding, and keep very open lines of communication among themselves and with the ED.
- Staff: Board members provide oversight to the ED and help ensure staff are successfully operationalizing HOT’s strategy, vision, and mission. Board members should also look out for the interests of staff, especially when doing so will affect staff productivity and retention.
- Global OSM community: Board members can serve as positive ambassadors for HOT by engaging with individuals, communities, and organizations within the global OSM community. Board members should help build HOT’s network, identify opportunities for partnerships and funding, and actively listen to and consider the needs of other OSM communities.
(1) to facilitate the friendly (in many ways) environment for our community members. (2) be the plus to the operation of HOT. (3) share the experience and expertise. (4) be more influential in global community.
The most important thing I will do to determine the priorities is listen and deep dive to better understand the directions needed for each area. As someone who has been working primarily outside of HOT for the last two years, I will use the opportunity to understand better and bring in a fresh perspective in the context of the current needs. From my previous experience here’s how I see the important things right now:
1. Membership. As a voting member, I have felt that I have not had a concrete way to participate outside of voting during the annual meeting. I think this gap is important to address. Participation of members outside of the annual meeting helps surface the needs of the entire community and strengthens the connections between members.
2. Board. As the board continues the progress from a working board to a strategic board, an important aspect of this will be looking at how forward-thinking the board can be. The board needs to introduce discussions and decisions to set goals and objectives to be forward-looking, beyond the Audacious Project.
3. Staff. The structure and makeup of the HOT staff is vastly different since I was a staff member. I will take the opportunity to talk to existing staff and deep dive to have a better understanding of the staff needs. A healthy, diverse, and productive team are needed and will work with the Executive Director to set particular goals and objectives to address the needs.
4. Global OSM community. The OSM community is incredibly diverse and each area of OSM has different priorities and needs. It’s important that HOT continues to feed into helping define these local priorities and needs. It’s important for HOT’s regional model to help encourage the understanding and growth of this.
A Board’s job is to help craft/reinforce a vision for success, work with committees to translate that vision into actionable processes, hold staff accountable to executing on that mission, provide support and advice when challenges arise, and advocate for the organization in a way to garner more resources and funding. At this point, I do not know if the specific issues in these various groups that require attention, but would recommend the Board follow this pattern of working with committees to surface the issues and devise policies to address them, then work with staff to implement policies in way that it is possible to measure outcomes.
This is really a big question which to a certain extent is crosscutting to most of the questions and answers (Q/A) put forth by the members for this election. Answering it in details may be overwhelming for the readers and redundant with other Q/A. Essentially, the Board shall keep striving to provide an enabling environment fit for the organization to fulfill its mission statement while it localized in a changing landscape within the overall respect of OpenStreetMap practices and texts by sticking to the OSMF mantra (supporting without controlling the project).
Given the tremendous growth of HOT over the past year the HOT board should spend a significant portion of time over the next several months listening and communicating to members, staff, and the global OSM community. While it’s not possible to response to every person’s need maintaining a solid reputation is important to the broader OSM community.
I think that the OpenStreetMap movement needs to have a Code of Conduct. This doesn’t solve all the issues around being welcoming but I consider this a baseline. As far as conflicts that are not violation of a Code of Conduct? I believe in starting back by asking the question of “what is the problem we are trying to solve?” Often conflict occurs between groups and individuals with similar goals but the disagreement is in how to get there. From there it is important to reason what actions HOT is taking in OSM. I doubt some of the long standing conflicts will be fully resolved, but at least attempting to find points of agreement and documenting them can be helpful.
Disagreement is expected in all communities. How disagreements are resolved or discussed is what makes a community healthy or disfunctional.
Allowing space for discussions that are amicable and respectful of differences of experiences and opinions is important. Starting with a code of conduct that is enforced through a well known process of reporting, warning and escalation. It is also important to provide channels to people who may not like to publically speak out.
For inter-community discussions and conflict resolutions perhaps a community liaison role (if it doesn't already exist) should be created. Job of this role might be to participate in ensuring any HOT activities that need to be articulated to other communities is done thus building trust.
Board members should be available for and open to conversations with organizations and individuals within the OSM community and should create safe spaces for candid conversations. HOT board members have legal and fiduciary responsibilities to the organization that I would always need to consider and prioritize, but I would do my best to represent HOT’s interests while also ensuring a spirit of healthy collaboration and communication with members of the broader OSM community.
Communication is one of the important things from my perspective, listen and harmonize, should be helpful for building a welcoming space. The roots of HOT and OSM community are the same, we want to map and want to make it useful to the world. Just HOT run the organization and community in a (relatively more) systematic way. I'm quite optimistic to the conflicts (or just some misunderstanding) between HOT and OSMF.
Building a welcoming space for communications around humanitarian mapping and OSM as a whole is a primary role HOT can play globally. Communication space is a key part of learning across a region and will be a primary mechanism where local and regional growth can happen. By connecting individuals, local companies, and public or private institutions, HOT can play a role in creating the tools and best practices for how good communications can strengthen the humanitarian mapping community.
Conflicts between people and organizations are bound to happen. HOT can be proactive in preventing conflict through communication initiatives that strengthen dialog between parties and conduct best practices in conflict resolution. When conflicts arise, I would look to lean on a variety of conflict resolution processes based on the situation.
An example of what this would look like would be to define rules on the communications space that can set expectations for healthy conversation and enable a structured dialog between parties. Creating open, safe, and transparent communications space that prioritizes resolving the conflict over being right and encourages active listening will help create a pathway towards resolution.
In principle, of course…but I’m not really sure what the specifics of a “welcoming space for communications” would be. Given that “all politics are local”, I struggle to recommend a single solution for addressing conflicts that could occur at a number of different scales and tiers of organizations. In short, HOT needs to do what it can do…have a clear vision for what it is, and communicate it broadly and thoroughly inside and outside the organization. The OSM community is passionate, and many participants have strongly held convictions on what should and shouldn’t be the way forward. I am more concerned about issues at the local level, as the leading edge of the organization needs to have good relationship with the local communities and chapters. Moving up to the global level, the issues and personalities are different. I’d advocate for a HOT that stands firmly on it’s clearly stated goals, and doesn’t fall prey to those who are more inclined to “troll”.
First of, there will always be a structural/residual level of tensions in any organization and in between organizations, what matters is to keep tensions to the minimal. Hence, why it’s fundamental that HOT US Inc operates and works fully under the texts, practices and logic of the OSM project and in full compliance with OSMF policies and practices. It’s essential to reword Tyler final paragraph in his last diary note: “First, what we need above anything else is your passion for HOT’s mission and dedication to making our vision a reality”. What has to be first in HOT US Inc is OSM. It’s important to continue the dialogue and interactions between the two organizations through the Boards but as well though the continued engagement and activity within OSMF Working Groups. The organizational change inspired by the cooperative model of a SCIC which would allow OSMF as a partner organization to be part of HOT membership could be a complementary way to handle smoothly the relations between the two organizations; HOT US Inc may learn from the experience between CartONG and OSM France with CartONG being a member of OSM France.
I support a more welcoming space and communications around humanitarian mapping and OSM. Potential conflicts would need to be handled on a case by case basis however I have witnessed and been victim to reoccurring harassment by a small group of the same individuals.
By contributing to the new strategy, asking questions of staff about community involvement and making sure the community is considered in everything we do.
Audacious project and community should be synonymous in my opinion, otherwise outputs of Audacious would be at risk of stagnating, becoming out-of-date and at worst losing relevance.
So the core of Audacious should be built upon reaching out to the local communities that thrive and ultimately become self-sufficient. This will require being creative in creating local partnerships that help create a virtuous cycle of OSM data collection and improvement.
Please see my response to question # 9.
Need to work with community and keep it aligned to the planned strategy. Not an easy job and can’t be done by one or a few, yet with a group of community members and staff who believe it’s working, it’s gonna be fine.
As a Board member with fiduciary responsibility to the organization, the only power you have to direct operations is hold the executive director and by proxy the professional staff accountable for their actions and approve policies that simultaneously reflect the culture and mission of the organization and that do not cause financial harm.
By giving decision power to each Regional Hub. We need to make sure they are allowed to address challenges locally and share best practices among the network.