The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, or HOT, was founded on the principle that a free, open and accessible map is a tremendously useful infrastructure during disaster response. HOT has time and again played a huge role in engaging the international OSM community in creating an open, free map at times of disaster. HOT’s response to Haiti earthquake of 2010, the West Africa Ebola Outbreak of 2014, and the Nepal Earthquake of 2015 are some examples of such crowdsourced mapping efforts, also known as HOT Activations.
In response to the recent 2015 Nepal earthquakes, HOT collaborated with Kathmandu Living Labs to activate over 9,000 volunteers to do satellite imagery based mapping of the affected districts on OpenStreetMap. Drawing on the lessons learned from this and previous activations, HOT felt the need to create a roster of dedicated trained volunteers to fulfil different roles during an activation. HOT organised training workshops in Dar es Salaam and Jakarta inviting trainees who had already been involved in previous activations and had some experience and could actively participate and give useful feedback on the coursework. Two of us from Kathmandu Living Labs participated in one of the first such trainings, known as HOT Activation Workshops, in Jakarta. Russell Deffner and Mhairi O’Hara of HOT, who also designed the coursework, were our trainers.
Crises are always chaotic situations. At the time of crisis quick but carefully thought out decisions are required. Trained and experienced activators are better prepared to manage such situations. The participants had some experience from their involvement in previous activations, this workshop helped to reorganise their experiences and knowledge in a systematic manner.
The three-day training included courses on 10 different topics, each one for specific roles to be fulfilled by HOT volunteers during an activation. A simulation exercise with case studies was done with each participant taking an activator role.
Apart from the training, we also had a lot of fun during the Monas excursion and got to have a good feel of Jakarta on its Car-Free Day, evening walks around the city and the museum at Kota Tua. We loved the food, the street music and we had very good cohesion among us participants and our trainers, who have also become our awesome new friends.