Episode 199

Ben Hur Pintor on BNHR and SmartCT


September 15th, 2023

36 mins 43 secs

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode


Ben Hur Pintor


Richard Littauer

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source for the long haul. Today, Richard is joined by guest, Ben Hur Pintor, a key player in the world of open data and mapping. Ben shares insights about his work with BNHR, a consulting business helping others harness open source and open data, and SmartCT, a nonprofit working on sustainability issues. He details their unique approach of using games to educate about open source and data concepts. Ben highlights partnerships with universities, shares about their Civic Literacy Initiative aimed at making more effective use of data, and discusses the challenges faced by people from the Global South entering the open source/open data space. He also tells us about Pista ng Mapa, an annual conference that celebrates open mapping in the Philippines. Download this episode now to hear more!

[00:01:16] What is BNHR? Ben explains it’s a consulting business where he helps people find value in open source and open data, particularly open geospatial and mapping.

[00:02:21] Ben talks about SmartCT, a tech nonprofit that helps local governments and civic society organizations deal with sustainability issues. They put citizens at the heart of their services and promote openness.

[00:03:24] Richard asks Ben why he saw the need for SmartCT, and he explains that many cities and municipalities in the Philippines were starting smart projects, but there was a lack of innovation and communication between them.

[00:05:40] Ben mentions they are focusing on building offline first and open tools that are easy for local government units to use, and he tells us about their projects, a card game designed to help people learn about open source and open data and they’re creating a smart mobility board game.

[00:09:14] Richard wonders if Ben has found traction with these board games and if there’s any drawback to this approach. Ben acknowledges the risk of making the concept seem too childlike but argues that these tools are designed to simplify the introduction to open source and open data concepts.

[00:13:20] Ben confirms past partnerships with local universities and student interns and shares a shift in focus due to changes in travel restriction in the Philippines. He highlights the importance of networking and partnership to their organization.

[00:15:00] We start a conversation on the Civic Literacy Initiative (CLI), which is an educational project co-founded by Ben. He tells us its goals, focusing on shifting from siloed capacity building to something more impactful, and their intent to support civic organizations and philanthropic bodies to make better use of data regarding capacity-building activities.

[00:17:47] Ben provides more detail about CLI, emphasizing its role in open data around capacity building, open consulting, and the building of the School of Data network.

[00:18:59] Richard asks Ben about his perspective on open data and open source as well as the sustainability of open source in the Philippines. Ben acknowledges the overlap and distinctions between various open movements and shares his own journey through them and he discusses the tight-knit community in the Philippines and their collective efforts pushing for openness.

[00:23:18] A question about the possible barriers for individuals from the Global South to enter the open source/data space, and Ben explains that entering the open source space is more challenging and how more support is needed.

[00:27:40] Ben tells us all the details about his project, Pista ng Mapa, Festival of Maps, which is an annual conference that celebrates open mapping in the Philippines.

[00:33:14] Find out where you can follow Ben and his work on the webs.


[00:12:48] “To me the biggest difference with working in this side of the world and also in the global south, in terms of the baseline capacity and the baseline knowledge for openness, open data, open source, open standards, we’re not there yet.”


  • [00:34:10] Richard’s spotlight is a book he just read called, Legends & Lattes.
  • [00:34:50] Ben’s spotlight is QGIS.



Support Sustain