Photo of Martin Dittus

Hallo. I am Martin Dittus.

I am a data scientist and digital geographer with 20 years of experience across startups, academia, non-profits, and the public sector.

I am a member of the Insight & Delivery team at Lewisham Council in South London, where I support partners across the organisation in evidence-based decision making. As part of this I am the insight lead for the council's cost of living programme, and provide monitoring and evaluation support for our food justice action plan.

Previously I was a digital geographer and data scientist at the Oxford Internet Institute, where I researched the information geographies of Wikipedia, Google Maps, and other large online knowledge platforms. Together with my coauthor Mark Graham I wrote the book "Geographies of Digital Exclusion: Data and Inequality" for Pluto Press, and contributed to the State of the Internet's Languages Report by Whose Knowledge, collecting evidence that the global majority is underserved by today's internet platforms. In earlier work I produced analyses of the economic geography of darknet marketplaces.

I completed a PhD in computer science at the ICRI Cities at University College London, where I researched community engagement for the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), a volunteer initiative with thousands of contributors. I have published papers in major academic venues, and two of them have received awards. It was very much a collaborative effort, and we couldn’t have done it without a lot of community support!

I have previously been a software developer and project manager at, a trustee for U.K. charity Local Welcome, a director and trustee of the London Hackspace, an organiser for Hack the Barbican and the Electromagnetic Field camping festival, a cat herder for Air Quality Egg contributors, and more.

My data visualisations have been featured in the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World (16th ed.) [1], Infosthetics [2][3], Visual Complexity [4][5], FlowingData [6], in print magazine De:Bug [7], Manuel Lima’s Visual Complexity book [8], the German-language Visual Simplexity book [9], and elsewhere.

Past work

Research diary Research diary: contributor engagement in humanitarian mapping Research diary State of the Map 2016: Building large-scale crowdsourcing communities with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Research diary OII Talk: Big Data and Putting the World's Vulnerable People on the Map Research diary Missing Maps: the first year in stats & charts Research diary Participation inequality in humanitarian mapping Research diary Unknown Pleasures (of humanitarian mapping) Research diary Collective Sensor Networks Visualisation Heatmap Calendars

Selection of talks

Talk slides Mass participation during emergency response: Event-centric crowdsourcing in humanitarian mapping Talk slides Building Large-scale Crowdsourcing Communities with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Talk slides Big Data and Putting the World's Vulnerable People on the Map Talk slides Missing Maps: the first year in stats & charts Talk slides Contributor engagement in humanitarian mapping Talk slides DIY sensor networks: community-driven environmental monitoring Talk slides Urban data work: a practitioner’s perspective Talk slides Creative community spaces: London Hackspace, Electromagnetic Field, and Hack the Barbican Talk slides Tags and tag radio at

Other activities

  • Open data sets collected by "everyone"

    A talk at Innovation Week Rome on the topic of community knowledge: data and information collected by community groups. During this event 300 people, 30 facilitators, and 10 international speakers were co-creating ideas for a social innovation city. Slides

  • A practitioner’s perspective on urban data work

    A talk at Urban Data Hack about my data visualisation and data analysis work in the context of urban spaces, including work by colleagues at the ICRI Cities. Closes with comments on technology-based solutions to social problems, and some suggestions on how best to start looking for important problems. Slides.

  • Open hardware projects at the London Hackspace

    A talk for Design Culture Salon at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the world's leading museum of art and design. Part of a panel on transparent design with Jessi Baker, Alison Powell, Gillian Youngs, and Kevin Walker. What are the ethics and politics of transparency, and is this is being adequately factored into design practice? Slides.

  • OpenStreetMap community diversity

    An article for State of the Map, the annual gathering of the global OpenStreetMap community. Maps have a peculiar ability to act as a stage for shared concerns, as catalysts and connectors for a wide range of interests.

  • The politics of making

    A panel discussion at the Elephant & Castle Mini Maker Faire with Cory Doctorow, Sarah Corbet, Eva Verhoeven, and Nelly Trakidou. Can maker culture be understood as political act, as resistance against late capitalism? Slides, video.

  • Creative community spaces

    A talk at Bartlett Plexus about the London Hackspace, the Electromagnetic Field camping festival, and Hack the Barbican as community-created spaces. Slides, video.

  • A sensor commons: DIY environmental monitoring

    A talk at the Electromagnetic Field camping festival, reviewing a range of global DIY environmental monitoring activities. The Air Quality Egg, SafeCast, DIY spectrometry, and more. Slides.

  • heatmap calendars

    Visualising the music listening habits of selected users. In total the project involved the aggregation of 8.7 million scrobbles across ~180 graphs. Project page, blog post.

  • Music Feeds

    A now defunct music blog aggregator, built at the first ever music hack day in London. You could filter posts with user profiles, a fulltext search, and more. The results were great: pop culture snippets, opinionated commentary, podcast feeds, and lots of noise. Blog post.

  • Lots of data, little money. A perspective

    What to do when the data you have to analyse keeps growing but your budget doesn't? A discussion of how became one of the first commercial adopters of Hadoop, and one of the biggest users of commodity distributed systems. Slides, video.

  • Pool Radio

    A now defunct aggregator of hopefully interesting radio stations, aggregated from user tag feeds, group forums, global tag charts, and more. Blog post.

  • … and more.