Letter from our Executive Director
Executive Director at Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
In 2019 the world faced many new and ever more challenging disasters and crises. The effects of climate-related disasters were yet again front and center. Cyclone Idai, one of the strongest cyclones to ever hit Africa, was followed by Cyclone Kenneth and affected more than two million people across Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. Sadly, we witnessed and continue to see the highest levels of forced displacement on record, with 70 million people forced from their homes. By the end of 2019, novel coronavirus cases were first detected in China and then began to emerge as a global pandemic by early 2020.
These are, by all accounts, incredibly difficult times and incredibly difficult humanitarian challenges. However, I believe we have a real reason to be optimistic. The HOT community came together in 2019 at unprecedented levels to meet these new demands. Responding to Cyclone Idai, over 4,000 community members created maps used on the ground by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Médecins Sans Frontières. Community grants in Peru, Tanzania and Zambia made a real impact on the digital gender divide, with HOT running our first-ever project focused exclusively on digital technology and gender norms. New projects were launched in the Philippines to map some of the country’s largest cities and in the Democratic Republic of Congo to respond to the Ebola outbreak in the eastern part of the country. Teams and individuals working remotely mapped every road in Indonesia, contributed to “Ayuda Venezuela”, mapped wildfires in Bolivia and areas affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. By the end of 2019, we neared a major milestone - 200,000 mappers - and made real inroads toward executing on our community’s big vision - mapping an area home to one billion people in the coming years.
As we approach HOT’s tenth anniversary, a transformation has taken place. What we thought of ten years ago as digital humanitarianism has become simply humanitarianism. Digital is now part and parcel of humanitarian action and the HOT network is now working in as many ways face-to-face as it is online. Our micro-level contributions are contributing to macro-level global change. Never have I been more proud to serve this incredible global community.
-Tyler Radford, Executive Director
HOT's Board reflects on 2019
“2019 was a great year for HOT. As a humanitarian worker myself, one of my highlights has been to see mappers working side by side with MSF field teams: local collaborations that support the provision of vital healthcare to vulnerable communities. I have also enjoyed seeing the microgrants programme going from strength to strength - contributing as part of the panel was tough with so many good proposals to choose from!”
- Pete Masters, President of Board
"In 2019, HOT supported diverse communities to keep working on improving the maps and the gender balance of the mappers creating the data. Nothing could have been done without the strong community, committed HOT members, staff, and supporters. There are still many challenges, but by working together with communities and humanitarian technologies we can keep supporting the future of mapping."
- Miriam Gonzalez, Vice President of the Board
"HOT has always been at the forefront of innovation and bringing to life wild ideas in the OpenStreetMap space. This was no different in 2019 and HOT has achieved this not only by focusing on tools like RapiD, MapSwipe, and the Tasking Manager but also by continued support for OpenStreetMap communities around the world. I can’t wait to see what’s next!"
- Ben Abelshausen, Secretary of the Board
“HOT's operations have expanded tremendously and support has been extended to the communities, which sprouted new ones and strengthened existing ones. The technology improvements in 2019 were a strong block to the OpenStreetMap ecosystem, as many organizations are using tools like Tasking Manager. Great thanks to the volunteers, staff, and everyone that has dedicated efforts to contribute to HOT activities.”
- Gertrude (Trudy) Namitala, Treasurer of the Board
“As usual 2019 has been a very eventful year for HOT, evolving with all the ongoing great works with new/ongoing projects and technical developments for supporting the global humanitarian programs. Big thanks to all the awesome volunteers, communities, membership, staff, and supporters of HOT! Keep rolling.”
- Tasauf (Ribin) A Baki Billah
"2019 has been a great year for our amazing organization, but also for all OpenStreetMap communities around the world that it supports with microgrant programs with a special focus on women empowerment for a more inclusive and gender-equal world. A special thanks to all of us for the great job building resilient and fair communities!"
- Nathalie Sibide