Monthly Archives: March 2010

Nat talks about Open Data

“I’m kicking myself because I’ve been taking far too narrow an interpretation of “an open source approach”. I’ve been focused on getting people to release data. That’s the data analogue of tossing code over the wall, and we know it takes more than a tarball on an FTP server to get the benefits of open source. The same is true of data.”

Personally I’ve found talking to governments to be a big time sink at best.

UX Review

Dear all

One of the clear pieces of feedback from all the talk about improving the OSM UX was “show us these users who really find it difficult to use OSM”. So, we’re going to do that. We have a rough plan of action below

Nate Bolt of the splendiferous has volunteered to help OSM with a user interaction review. Nate, as part of Bolt | Peters, did exactly this work with wikipedia:

Where they basically screen recorded people trying to edit in wikipedia with the following goals:

• identify obstacles that novice users encounter in editing a Wikipedia article—including, but not limited to—adding personal content, fixing a typo, adding a reference, and contributing to discussion pages
• identify obstacles in creating a new article
• evaluate the self-sufficiency and legibility of help materials and documents found on
• evaluate how novice users interact with templates
• discover user experience patterns and issues that have not been previously identified.

Together with Mike Migurski, famed geohead, creator of walking papers and graphical butterfly at, we’ve come up with a rough plan to get feedback from new users to OSM. It’s a very similar approach to that taken by Bolt | Peters with wikipedia. We want to find out from the real newbies what the issues are and lay them out clearly. Nate is independent of OSM and will be able to present a cold hard look at what’s good and what we need to work on to improve things so we get more newbies contributing.

* A small piece of javascript from is put on the new user page in openstreetmap
* Once in some very small sample size (perhaps between 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 10,000 signups) a popup appears
* The popup says something like “Hi! We’d really like to know why you came to OSM” and they say simply why. This is open ended on purpose so we catch as many things as we can, not just what we’re looking for, but things we won’t expect.
* They’re offered to record a short (10 minute max) screencast of them trying to achieve whatever it is (like look at a map, find OSMers, add a PoI and so on)
* That screencast is analyzed in aggregate with many others by Bolt | Peters with all their expertise in doing this stuff, and they come back with a set of findings.

We’re looking at both and to do the recording. Both Mike and I will pay for it, and might solicit donations and stuff if it looks beyond our budget.

I can’t say this enough, and I always get responses from people who think that I just set something out in stone – so I’ll be super super super clear: NONE OF THIS IS SET IN STONE. We need your feedback on everything before we go ahead. I mean _everything_. So, please tell us what you think about it all. Here are some questions:

What should our goals be? (General UX? How good/bad signup is? How good/bad editing is? How is it finding info?)
How often should we ask a signup for feedback? (the more the better but we can only look at so many)
How can we include more crowd source feedback? (I think of asking random signups for feedback as crowdsourcing it)
What else should we think about?

Yours &c.


The Tragedy of Edmontorcouver Open Data


There are two minor mistakes that are holding Edmontorcouver open data
back from wide adoption, two minor mistakes that are preventing the
Edmontorcouver open data initiative from being a tremendous success.
Tiny mistakes. Easy to overlook. These are the O-rings on
Edmontorcouver open data Success Boosters.

Find out how to fix your municipal open data initiative.

Statue photo cc-by-sa fabbio on Flickr

Rapideye gives Chile sat images to OSM

Jochen Topf writes…

Rapideye gives Chile sat images to OSM

The german satellite company Rapideye has released satellite images for the areas in Chile affected by the earth quake to OpenStreetMap. The images are copyrighted but can be used to add data to OSM.

For information on how to include these images into JOSM and Potlatch see…

Humanitarian OSM Team List

During crisis, the HOT list supports coordination among the OSM community, along side appropriate local country lists, and the talk/dev lists when needed. It is the point where disaster responders and affected people can connect directly to members of the OSM community ready to help. In quieter times, the list helps HOT to prepare resources and improve its response.

Note that talk/dev are still good for mobilizing the wide community to a HOT activation, but details of the response can for the most part safely move into this list once we get critical mass of subscribers.

Please join if you are interested in helping HOT, or need HOT services. Thanks!

SOTM Call For Papers now out

What’s hot and sizzling about OpenStreetMap? What do you want to share with the community? Have you been working on cool and funky OSM apps? Do you have thesolution how to make mapping as easy as … well … you name it. Or have you done research on OSM and want to share the results with the people who make OpenStreetMap?

The call for papers for the fourth international State of the Map conference is now open. The OpenStreetMap Foundation invite contributions from mappers, academics, geo-hackers and open geodata supporters around the world. If you are involved in OpenStreetMap mapping, coding or community organisation – or if you want the chance to present your ideas or opinions to the OpenStreetMap community, you should submit a paper to the State of the Map 2010.

Integrating OpenStreetMap in Bing Maps (Part 1) – Windows Live

Integrating OpenStreetMap in Bing Maps (Part 1)



Bing Maps has a very good coverage with roadmaps and aerial imagery. However, there are regions where our data providers have gaps. Crowed-sourcing of geospatial data might be an option to fill these gaps and one of the most active communities is around OpenStreetMap. The OpenStreetMap data is available under the Create Common Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 License which means that as long as you provide the correct attribution to the source you should be fine to integrate the data with Bing Maps.

While it is theoretically possible to link directly to the OpenStreetMap tile servers, users who have a high load are requested to run their own tile servers. This also allows you to take control over availability and scalability of the tile servers.