OpenCrisis Townhall Meeting 21st February 2014

What’s This?

Meeting: OpenCrisis TownHall

Date: 20th February 2014

Agenda: a roundup of what we’ve been doing and deployments we’ve heard about in the past month; a check on what groups and people needed; and an outline plan for the coming month.

Who was present: Sara, Pat, Donna, Rose, Leesa, om, Brendan…later Hilary Nicole

Last month: 23 January 2014 minutes

What’s Happened?

Past month: Deployments

  • What: South Sudan crisis

    • who:  HOT OSM, GISCorps, Ushahidi, OpenCrisis, MapAction

    • where:  South Sudan

    • what:  OpenCrisis set up coordination skypechat and googledoc ( for groups mapping the South Sudan crisis. HOT OSM has mapped several affected areas, in collaboration with UNITAR/UNOSAT, HIU (State Dept)  with assistance from GISCorps and, for area identification, OpenCrisis (BOH). MapAction has also been working with OCHA. sending a two-person team to Juba for a period.

    • Deployment dates:  24th December – continuing (contact Brendan or Sara)


  • What: Central African Republic crisis

    • who:  HOT OSM

    • where:  CAR

    • what:  HOT has been doing a lot of mapping – both settlements and infrastructure, since the crisis began. State Dept’s HIU has been helping with current sat imagery provision

    • Deployment dates:  HOT has been active for CAR/RCA for over a year, but this activity has intensified since mid-late December 2013


  • Events with monitoring but not deployments:

    • Kyiv (Kiev) demonstrations – concern and willingness to map seen online, – Ukrainian language Ushahidi crisis map

    • Mt Sinabung eruption (Sumatra, Indonesia) – HOT OSM task for this

    • UK floods.  London hackathon, Justine Mackinnon involved with local work.

    • Samar East (Philippines): big forest fire in Balangiga area – call for crisis mapping assistance on Crisismappers list (20 Feb)…not clear if any organised response to it

    • US Northeast cold – not monitored; some VOST local deployments.

Past month: Activities



  • Blogposts: great posts this past month (including on data ownership, data security & publication issues, Monitoring & Evaluation, LGBT/GBV mapping issues, verification) – keep ‘em coming!

  • Anahi email in Crisismappers mailing list: about South Sudan data prompted much research, much debate and two OpenCrisis blogposts – ‘Who owns crisis data?’ and ‘Concerning responsible use and publication of crisis data for South Sudan

  • OpenCrisis platforms: Migration to WordPress almost complete (just link integrity survey and fettling to be finished off) – site now fully functioning.

  • Membership: 27 people on WP site (few more to be asked if want to be added), including 1st applications direct from new site; 24 on OpenCrisis Googlegroup; (37 on total list…but some of these have just cruised by once…and therefore probably shouldn’t be counted)

  • Drones – any progress Joseph?

  • Training – was a busy month… open data training delayed till March, but will happen. Dhairya (& Brendan, to lesser extent) contributed to a TechChange training course

  • Twitter a/c: much more active over last 3 weeks – but could still be moved up notch

  • Personal Democracy Forum suggested that we submit a talk to them on our South Sudan dataset experience and learnings.

  • OpenCrisis involved in ongoing discussions (as observer, minor contributor) with HOT, State Dept’s HIU about mechanics of provision of sat imagery to community, workflows prior to HIU’s rollout of MapGive program


Other community activities

  • Humanitarian Data Project: getting going again – have started an online list of community-created datasets as part of a discussion on how to license and open these. Have also connected HDP to the Ushahidi CrisisNet project (which isn’t aimed at crisismapping, but does have some overlaps with it).

  • Accademics / SBTF Academics: Joseph launching room and collaboration space this weekend: “I’m in the process of setting a large group of academics for the purpose of creating joint university-level courses in Crisis Mapping, Crisis Management, Geo-Informatics. In addition I think this group is a great forum to discuss inter-institutional consortiums for the design of new approaches and technologies for humanitarians and civil protection. It’s another great way to meet the top academics committed to social good through technology. Join us by adding me on skype @ josephrichardpollack or sending me an email. Looking forward to your participation!” – Joseph.

  • Data handling guidelines – we need these,and SBTF have asked for some too. Who’s up for research and writing some? BOH is…

  • ODbL license: may be more restrictive than we (and HOT OSM) think. We need to investigate this asap (especially since all recent OC datasets have ODbL licenses on them), and see if we can get some legal help with it.

  • info4disasters website: Info4 is regrouping regarding “Country Pages” and EOCs in light of the “found” materials Sara pointed us to on the Wayback Machine (a great archive site for looking for “lost” internet pages)

  • WHS: info4disasters & SBTF working on the World Humanitarian Summit (deployment of DHN). Proposed that OpenCrisis assist Info4Disasters with part of their remit for this.

  • Wider discussions on data security, conflict data & associated mapping: see Heather Leson’s great post here.


Other activities:


  • Hackathons: International Open Data Day and CodeAcross (see Pat).

News, Announcements etc


  • Next Townhall meeting: 14th March  2014.   TownHalls are on the second Friday of every month (formerly Wednesdays), at 12:00 EST / 17:00 GMT unless otherwise stated.  Remaining Townhalls for 2014 are: 14th March, 11th April, 9th May, 13th June, 11th July, 8th August, 12th September, 10th October, 14th November, 12th December.

  • DHN new website up ( as of this week – seeking feedback from any DHN members of members –

  • Cool tool:, for aligning old maps with modern location-corrected maps

  • Has been ‘strongly suggested’ that OpenCrisis contribute to Personal Democracy Forum, June 2014, New York

  • OpenCrisis is now registered at ALNAP – meaning we get updates on events, jobs, opportunities in humanitarian learning field. “The Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP) is a system-wide organisation dedicated to improving the accountability and performance of humanitarian action by strengthening the humanitarian evidence base through sharing lessons, researching key issues and, where appropriate, providing leadership to find collective approaches and solutions.”

  • GDELT, the conflict data warehouse, is back!  see here. And…it has a new home – here.

What do we need to do?

Last month’s plan

  • Create agenda for next month (use template) (DONE)

  • Sara to make list of all the people and groups who email her about crisismapping

  • Platform discussion (DONE)

  • Incorporation discussion (DONE)

  • Launch new site on Saturday 25th January… continue to populate this, and explore complementary platform options. (DONE)

  • Sara – write a page about open data licenses and how to do them right (DONE)

  • Lillian to write blogpost about the maze of finding open data in Thailand

  • Brendan writing blogpost about ‘Geolocation in context’ (in rough draft…overtaken by other South Sudan issues 😛 )

  • Rose – summary of verification handbook? Verification Handbook with guidelines to verify digital, user generated content.  Will have guidelines, tools, checklist, etc. Supposed to be released January 2014 (sometime this month), freely available.  Will write summary (REM) (DONE)

  • Sara – post about open data cambodia (but only with permission from team)

  • Sara – run training session on open data.



  • Blogposts for the new website – please write them!


Next month’s plan


  • By-laws discussion and drafting…and consultation…and adoption

  • ODbL licensing issues: We need to investigate this asap (especially since all recent OC datasets have ODbL licenses on them), and see if we can get some legal help with it. BOH to talk to Lillian; BOH to draft workflows that community can use with e.g., placename databases to ensure that is clear which data are OSM-compatible, and which not

  • Adopt a to-do/task management tool; possible options include…. WordPress plugin (keeps all activity inside OC website) or external tools like:Trello, Asana, Kerika (free for non-profits), Atlassian (also free for non-profits, IIRC), RedMine.

  • Ask for OpenCrisis seat at Oakland event on crisismapping and security concerns.

  • Discuss with Info4Disasters how OpenCrisis might contribute to WHS work

  • Data handling guidelines – draft these, get feedback from groups inc SBTF

  • Feedback on DHN website – please! (see above – form here)

  • Brendan writing blogpost about ‘Geolocation in context’

  • Lillian to write blogpost about the maze of finding open data in Thailand

  • Sara – run training session on open data.

  • need to have a slightly more organised division of OpenCrisis responsibilities…e.g., Site management, members, media (social & other), planning ahead

  • More organised responsibilites – Brendan to lead. Sara to hold the anti-bureaucracy stick.

  • Investigate grant-aid opportunities

  • Translators – write-up and effort to help Info4 etc more easily find translators for their wor.

  • Add “Things you should know about online maps” section to GIS how-to guides. (any other ‘how-to’s in pipeline…needed?

  • Drones – add page, start connecting with drone deployers (Joseph/Sara).

  • Representation; Look at where OpenCrisis should be represented at community conferences, events over next year

  • Hilary – blog post on potential of crowdmapping of poaching and illegal game hunting in wildlife reserves


One thought on “OpenCrisis Townhall Meeting 21st February 2014”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s