By 2025, HOT aims that communities in 94 countries vulnerable to disaster or experiencing multidimensional poverty are equipped and able to map the locations where they live and work. We believe that accessible mobile mapping tools are key to this effort. Since I started working for HOT in January 2022, I have done informal interviews, observations, focus groups and experiments with more than 100 regional users, primarily in East Africa, looking at the accessibility of current OSM mobile editing tools. Sharing this research with the wider community will help everyone build technology that fits the needs on the ground.
For 3 months, with the support of OpenMap Development Tanzania (OMDTZ) and the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) Youth Mappers, I did a variety of informal interviews, observations, focus groups, and experiments with individuals and local OpenMapping organizations, primarily in East Africa. My research included professional data collection campaigns, as well as entry-level community members whose first encounter of OSM was during one of my workshops.
While the majority of my research focused on 5 main Open Source applications that are already in widespread use (StreetComplete, OsmAnd, Organic Maps, Vespucci & ODK Collect), many of the insights gained from this research, including data about hardware availability and current phone use, are applicable to anyone building mapping tools, especially those that will be used in low-resource environments.
The HOT _tech team aims to do more than just talk. Analysis of the research will be followed by specific suggestions for those doing mobile OSM mapping, especially at the entry-level, as well as technical proposals for tooling improvement. We will be working with the existing OSM ecosystem to design and implement these proposals in a way that is inclusive and sustainable.
Feedback is most welcome.