Lee Schwartz, Geographer of the United States, To Keynote Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) Summit

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WASHINGTON, D.C.–April 22, 2015–Dr. Lee Schwartz, Geographer of the United States, U.S. Department of State, will kick off the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team’s (HOT) Summit April 30 to May 2 in Washington, D.C., with a keynote about the department’s ongoing relationship with HOT, as well as future challenges and opportunities for the two organizations.

A distinguished lineup of speakers at the summit include Benson F. Wilder of the U.S. State Department’s Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU), Dale Kunce, senior geospatial engineer of the American Red Cross, Vivien Deparday, disaster risk management specialist at the World Bank’s Open Data for Resilience Initiative and Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), and Courtney Clark, Innovation Fellow at the United States Peace Corps.

In addition, the summit will focus on HOT mapping projects worldwide where local communities are being trained and given tools to enable them to do their own mapping. These speakers include Erica Hagen, of GroundTruth Initiative, on the mapping of schools by residents of the Kibera slum near Nairobi, Kenya, and Samuel Aiyeoribe of eHealth Africa, who will describe how his organization shares data widely with other health groups. “As a foremost health-care/public-health access support organization, the importance of spatial data could not be overemphasized,” Aiyeoribe says.

“Our speakers range from governments and the largest humanitarian organizations worldwide to local action groups using maps to empower their communities,” says Blake Girardot, an organizer of the summit. “They reflect the wide scope of HOT’s activities around the globe, not just for emergencies, but also for community development.”

Wilder will speak about how aerial imagery from the MapGive Initiative, a program of the U.S. State Department’s Open Government Plan. supports OpenStreetMap’s humanitarian and development efforts, especially the Ebola response.

Kunce will demonstrate OpenMapKit, a new mobile application, funded by USAID and developed by the American Red Cross, that will make it much easier for volunteers to collect map data in the field using Android phones and to link the data to the work of humanitarian groups.

Deparday’s session will describe the first phase and results of The Open Cities mapping project of The World Bank and the GFDRR, HOT and other development agencies. The project has been working in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and soon will launch in Vietnam, Madagascar, Comoros and Jamaica.

Clark’s talk will describe a Peace Corps pilot project to engage middle and high school students in the District of Columbia and Virginia in OpenStreetMap, in which social-studies students are mapping HOT tasks while they study the role of GIS in international development. Students also connect via video chat with the Peace Corps volunteers whose community they are mapping.

Other sessions will focus on new mapping technology for humanitarian response, OpenStreetMap as a way to teach geography and the use of drones for humanitarian mapping.

The first day of the summit, April 30, will take place at the American Red Cross National Headquarters at 430 17th Street, Washington, D.C., a national historical landmark. The second and third days, May 1 and 2, will be held at the American Red Cross D.C. Chapter House, 2025 E Street NW.

For more information about the event, including registration, accommodations in Washington and additions to the program, please visit the HOT Summit web site.

About the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT)

HOT is an international volunteer community focused on humanitarian mapping and is an active part of the greater OpenStreetMap (OSM) project. HOT provides maps and data to humanitarian organizations and emergency workers, especially in places where map data is scarce, out-of-date or rapidly changing. HOT believes that free open-source geodata can help save and improve lives in times of crisis and empower local communities to foster and manage economic development. HOT is a nonprofit registered in the United States.

HOT is able to mobilize large numbers of online mappers and focus their efforts on natural disasters, epidemics or other crises. HOT and OSM technologies enable people from around the world to map remote communities, transportation networks and critical facilities and infrastructure.
In addition to providing crowdsourced mapping for emergencies, HOT community members also travel around the world teaching people how they can map their local communities for economic development and disaster preparedness and build self-sustaining local mapping groups.

About OpenStreetMap (OSM)

OpenStreetMap is a project to create a free and open map of the entire world, built entirely by volunteers surveying with GPS units, digitizing aerial imagery, and collecting existing public sources of geographic data. Through OSM’s worldwide network of contributors OSM aims to make map data available to everyone for free. OpenStreetMap’s community is diverse, passionate, and growing every day. OSM’s contributors include casual and enthusiast mappers, GIS professionals, software developers, engineers running the OSM servers, humanitarians mapping disaster-affected areas, and many more.