OpenStreetMap US

The following is the first in a new series of guest blog posts where we feature the many amazing things happeninig within our OpenStreetMap US community. If you are also interested in being featured on our blog, contact us at!

Our first guest post touches upon our changing relations with other countries. Welcome to a new Cuba, where the lifting of the long-standing embargo can also welcome a new entrepreneurial and digital rush. Will OpenStreetMap be part of it? Danny Spitzberg of Peak Agency - a community research collective based in California - is coordinating a trip to Cuba next month that will take a proactive step in supporting open source culture in Havana. He wants OpenStreetMap to play a key role in building this open source culture. If you are interested in supporting this effort and even heading to Cuba in support, read Danny’s post below and reach out! –Maggie

Many Americans view Cuba as an island stuck in the past complete with outdated computers and a trickle of Internet. So this year, Cuba will face a huge wave of American tech companies.

What could possibly go wrong?

Rather than wait and see what happens in Cuba, we are organizing a trip in solidarity with the country’s grassroots technology movement. We are a group of a half-dozen people working in digital justice and open source software. Our first visit to Havana starts on February 28th, 2017.

Our trip is built on relationships with Havana’s ‘joven clubs’, youth hackerspaces experimenting with open source alternatives by necessity. The joven clubs are one place where Cuba’s own grassroots Internet culture is maturing and serving real needs. Several of the participants have visited Cuba over the past few years for education and academic research, getting to know members of the joven clubs on a personal basis.

Based on conversations with members of joven clubs and the open source software community, we’ve learned that Cuba has incredible open data compared to many countries worldwide. They want to support making this data useful for citizens, which is why we’re focusing our efforts on developing open source mapping tools and decentralized Internet systems.

The trip is being planned around an ‘unconference’, a self-organized gathering. Over the course of a week, we will meet, greet, share questions, and collaborate to provide mutual education, workshops, and skill sharing. We’ll also eat, drink, and try to dance.

Building on this initial visit, we have a long-term vision to strengthen Cuba’s grassroots technology movement. To strengthen relationship and support work already rooted in Cuba, we are looking for one or two more participants to join us who bring skills and capacity from the open source and open data communities – particularly those who can bring funding from a partner organization to make the trip happen.

Interested in supporting this visit? Curious about the next one? Reach out to Danny at sometime this week. Let’s make it happen!