Category Archives: OSMF

Posts about organisation of the OpenStreetMap Foundation. Working groups, the board, and other entities, and how we structure our organisation

A progress update on vector tiles from the Engineering Working Group

The OpenStreetMap Foundation’s Engineering Working Group has an update on the effort to create vector tiles for openstreetmap.org. Read on for why this work is important, what’s been done so far and how they are incorporating community feedback, and the technical details for those who want to know more.

The background

Currently, the openstreetmap.org website serves raster tiles, which are image tiles made up of pixels — think a downloaded image of part of a map. But the effort has begun to create vector tiles for the site, which will help improve how the map looks and how it works. You can read more about the background of the project here

Vector tiles serve up maps as vectors: points, lines and polygons. They store geographic data (like what makes up OpenStreetMap) in a format that allows for dynamic styling and interactivity. For users, vector tiles will mean a new, modern-looking map style with seamless zoom on openstreetmap.org, the map can be updated more quickly when data changes, and it should perform better for users.

Looking further ahead, the most exciting part is what this vector tile project will make easy for volunteers and tile users: 3D maps, more efficient data mixing and matching and integration of other datasets, thematic styles, multilingual maps, different views for administrative boundaries, interactive points of interest, more accessible maps for vision-impaired users, and surely many other ideas that no one has come up with yet. You may recall that many of these have been long-term interests for people in the OSM community.

The plan

The goal of vector tiles project is to provide a vector tiles setup that can work for openstreetmap.org — that is, a worldwide, complex basemap site in heavy demand from users and services around the world, where the data underlying the map changes all the time.

Or to put it technically, to create a setup for a worldwide complex basemap under high load which requires minutely updates.

Paul Norman is leading the vector tiles project.

He is working on adding to his Tilekiln project which generates vector tiles from a PostgreSQL database (like OpenStreetMap’s), making use of the Shortbread schema, which is a data format for how to name layers & properties within a vector tile, and improving Themepark, which allows one to add OSM data to a Postgres database.

The work is split up into three steps: 

1. First round of Tilekiln improvements and Shortbread Themepark improvements

2. Parallelism improvements

3. Shortbread publicly available in production

The first two steps are nearly done. Tilekiln now generates tiles in parallel, making it practical to generate tiles for the entire world. The next step is to start the deployment into OSMF hardware to prepare for production. 

Technical details on step 1

For those interested in the technical details of what’s being worked on, there are five main components of the first step above.

        1.        Automated packaging of Tilekiln

        2.        Tilekiln metrics being published with a Prometheus exporter

        3.        Themepark Shortbread reviewed

        4.        A demo server running with minutely updates of Shortbread tiles, rendering tiles on-demand

        5.        Demo shown to community

Items 1 and 2 are complete without need of further discussion. For item 3, Paul found that the osm2pgsql Themepark Shortbread implementation needed more work than anticipated as it was missing a layer and had some issues. 

Item 4 and 5 are complete. Paul’s demo server is running with minutely updates and the hardware requirements are more modest than expected. 

The community has also been providing useful feedback, such as on Paul’s OSM Community Forum post.

The community offered a lot of suggestions, some of which have already been incorporated. The remaining, in-scope issues from the community are: Curved lines rendering as jagged and vector tiles being too large.

The jagged lines issue is due to how smooth curves are represented in vector tiles. It has mostly been addressed but similar issues are expected to crop up in the future. A target scale equivalent to the minimum scale of the standard tile layer has been set. Zooming in to an even lower scale is possible, but artifacts may start to appear.

Vector tile size will continue to be an issue that needs continual work, but the current tiles are particularly large. Since this part of the testing some changes have been made that cut the size in half. Tile size optimization will be an issue that needs ongoing work, as tile size is the biggest factor in user experience.

The tiles being produced are usable, but more work remains to be done. Now that the parallelism work is complete it’s possible to generate large sets of tiles in order to test, so Paul will be returning to working on the tile definitions to improve tile size and fix some remaining issues, but the current  tiles are usable.

Background on the tools being used

Here is some information on the various tools used for this project.

Tilekiln is software written by Paul Norman for generating vector tiles from a PostgreSQL database. Alternatives are martin (or maybe t_rex). Tilekiln is in new development, although it uses a lot of standard PostgreSQL features to generate the vector tile data. Most OSM based maps (incl. osm-carto on osm.org) are generated from SQL database queries from a PostgreSQL database. Tilekiln generates vector tiles from similar queries. Tilekiln is new.

Themepark is part of the osm2pgsql suite of tools, to allow one to add OSM data to postgres, and share those processing steps between other projects. Many PostgreSQL based OSM map styles (like osm-carto) use osm2pgsql 

osm2pgsql has been around for 15+ years in OSM, and is used in many many places. Although Paul has contributed code to it, he is not the main developer. osm2pgsql has gotten more advanced, and better, in the last few years. Part of the power is pre-processing the data, and Themepark is an attempt to make these pre-processing steps easier.

Shortbread is a “vector tile schema” created by Geofabrik. It’s a data format for how to name layers & properties within a vector tile.

This blog posts contains contributions from Adam Hoyle, Mikel Maron, Amanda McCann, Paul Norman, and Andrew Wiseman

The OpenStreetMap Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, formed to support the OpenStreetMap Project. It is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data for anyone to use and share. The OpenStreetMap Foundation owns and maintains the infrastructure of the OpenStreetMap project, is financially supported by membership fees and donations, and organises the annual, international State of the Map conference. Our volunteer Working Groups and small core staff work to support the OpenStreetMap project. Join the OpenStreetMap Foundation for just £15 a year or for free if you are an active OpenStreetMap contributor.

Highlights from the OSMF Board Spring 2024 Meeting

The OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF) Board of Directors recently convened for a Face-to-Face (F2F) strategy meeting, and we wanted to provide you all with an update!

We met on April 27th and 28th in Frankfurt in person, and for some of us, it was our first time ever meeting in person.

The meeting allowed us to discuss and refine strategies, foster deeper connections, and become more effective in serving the OSM community. By coming together in person, we were able to cultivate a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives, refine our communication strategies, and focus on the most pressing priorities facing the OSMF.

Over the busy weekend, we were fortunate to have the guidance of our trusted facilitator, Gunner, who helped us navigate through discussions and prioritize our action items. He helped us communicate better, refocus on what really matters, and prioritize our many tasks and goals. With his guidance, we were able to make the most out of our time together and tackle important issues head-on. With his support, we not only stimulated our internal operations but also laid a solid foundation for more effective engagement with the OSM Community.

By coming together, we were able to address challenges more efficiently, brainstorm innovative solutions, and lay the groundwork for future initiatives. As we move forward, the Board is excited and motivated to share the progress of our action items with the community. While some of these initiatives will yield results in the short term, others may require more time to fully come to fruition. Nevertheless, we are committed to transparency and accountability, and we look forward to celebrating our achievements together with you all, the community.

You read more about some of our discussions and actions from the meeting on the OSMF website (here).

We’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to meet F2F and strengthen our bonds. And we’re not stopping here! Looking ahead, we are eagerly anticipating our next in-person engagement at this year’s State of the Map in Nairobi. This event will provide another invaluable opportunity for us to connect with each other, and most importantly with members of the OSM community, exchange ideas, and continue our collaborative efforts to make OpenStreetMap the best it can be.


The OpenStreetMap Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, formed to support the OpenStreetMap Project. It is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data for anyone to use and share. The OpenStreetMap Foundation owns and maintains the infrastructure of the OpenStreetMap project, is financially supported by membership fees and donations, and organises the annual, international State of the Map conference. Our volunteer Working Groups and small core staff work to support the OpenStreetMap project. Join the OpenStreetMap Foundation for just £15 a year or for free if you are an active OpenStreetMap contributor.

Three Great Reasons to Join the OSM Foundation as a Member

Here are three reasons why April is a great month to join the OpenStreetMap foundation as a member.

1. As a a member you can self-nominate to serve as a member of the OSMF Board. This allows you to influence the strategic plan, some of OSM’s finances and other matters that directly affect the direction of OpenStreetMap’s future.

This year’s OSMF General Meeting and board elections are 19 October 2024. This means that if you want to run for the Board you must become a member of the Foundation by 22 April 2024 There are FOUR Board positions up for election next fall. Even if you’re not sure that you want to run for the Board, but you think you might be interested, you should join!

2. If you are a member of the OSM foundation at least 90 days before the Annual General Meeting, you can vote in the annual Board elections, as well as on other foundation initiatives. The details on types of membership are here. Importantly, if you are an ‘active contributor’ you can apply for a free membership.

3. To help us grow and diversify the OSM Membership worldwide.

As you can see from this blog post, we are in the midst of a worldwide campaign to increase the number of OSM foundation members from all parts of the world. Right now, representation amongst OSM members is skewed toward the US and northern Europe, whereas there are many thousands of OSM contributors all over the world. By joining as a member, you can make the voices of the communities heard.

OSMF Board member Arnalie Vicario has been posting testimonials from current members on her X (and other accounts.). Here’s a video from Daniel Akor from OpenStreetMap Nigeria:

Become an OpenStreetMap foundation member today!


The OpenStreetMap Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, formed to support the OpenStreetMap Project. It is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data for anyone to use and share. The OpenStreetMap Foundation owns and maintains the infrastructure of the OpenStreetMap project, is financially supported by membership fees and donations, and organises the annual, international State of the Map conference. Our volunteer Working Groups and small core staff work to support the OpenStreetMap project. Join the OpenStreetMap Foundation for just £15 a year or for free if you are an active OpenStreetMap contributor

The OpenStreetMap Foundation Board looks ahead to 2024

2024 is already moving fast. The new OSMF Board is working hard, digging into their focus areas, and implementing the strategic plan. Following the “tradition” of the collective post in 2023, here are a few sentences from each of the Board members on where they want to contribute in 2023.

We welcome your input and participation. Contact us directly or, if you are an OSMF Member, join our monthly Board meeting.

Arnalie

Last year comes by so fast. I am not so proud of what I have accomplished as a board member as I have had some health challenges. It was a learning experience (the success and failures) for me!

This year, I will continue efforts to engage, grow and diversify the OpenStreetMap community, this includes:

  • Building more local chapters
    • Last year, we have revised the Local Chapters page to clearly state eligibilities and document that are required to submit. In addition; LCCWG is taking the lead role to review applications for potential local chapters as well as taking proactive steps to encourage communities to apply.
    • This year, we hope to establish 1-3 new local chapters especially in regions where there is no or less established local chapters. Our newest board member Dani will be my partner on this!
    • To learn more about OSMF Local Chapters and how to apply: https://osmfoundation.org/wiki/Local_Chapters
  • Growing and diversifying OSMF membership
    • Run a membership drive at first to second quarter of the year with volunteer team and community leaders
    • Review OSMF WGs, their goals, processes, operations, etc to provide a baseline how to encourage more participation in OSMF WGs
    • Review Active Contributor Membership application – ensuring that criteria are fit for people who it wish to benefit
    • Exposure to local communities and community projects through community presentation during OSMF board meetings
    • Revitalise the Diversity and Inlusion Committee to ensure that it is still fit for purpose and membership makeup/activeness
  • Ensuring OSMF’s support to regional and national SotMs (more on this)
  • Representing OSMF in various events/conferences to extend our reach (outside OSM, other open communities) and listen to local communities

More on this in my OSM diary: community in the map and at the table: my first year and continuing plans as OSMF board member

If you would like to talk and discuss about community, reach out to me arnalie[at]osmfoundation[dot]org or send me a message (https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/arnalielsewhere)

Craig

When I first joined the Board I had never seen inside of the OSMF organisation so I initially wanted to fix some obvious external problems. But I now hold the post of Secretary and Chair of the Finance committee which has led me to be far more focused on the internal problems that impact on the operations of the Foundation. I am now putting in a lot of effort to improve systems and guide the foundation towards a future where members, corporate members, donors and data users speak of the OSM Foundation as a well managed, highly effective organisation that has a clear view of how it wants to develop in the next decade. My stress is not on making the Foundation bigger, but rather on making it much better at what it already does and then making sure that people know that it is better.

Dani

I am thrilled and grateful to embark on this journey as a member of the Board of the OpenStreetMap Foundation, representing YOU. The opportunity to contribute to such a dynamic and impactful community is both humbling and exhilarating. As I step into this role, I acknowledge that I have much to learn, and I eagerly anticipate the wealth of knowledge and experience that the community members will teach me. My primary goals for this year revolve around fostering a stronger sense of unity within the community, amplifying our fundraising efforts to ensure the sustainability of our initiatives, and serving as a dedicated liaison for all members of the OpenStreetMap community. I approach these objectives with humility and determination, understanding that collaboration and inclusivity are paramount to our success. I am genuinely excited to immerse myself in this vibrant community, to forge meaningful connections, and to work together towards our shared vision of empowering people through open mapping.

Guillaume

2024 will be a pivot year for the OSMF, and as board chairperson, my focus is on making sure that the big changes we have coming up happen smoothly.

The most exciting change will be vector tiles. We will be trying to have about one blog post each month throughout the year as our project progresses. You can already read our first one or play with Paul’s demo.

Our move to the EU is another interesting shift that we will be working on. Brexit has made our life in the UK too complicated, and while a move represents a lot of work, it’s something we have to do. While I have had very promising talks with officials from Luxembourg, we’re also looking at Belgium. Ease of doing business, community presence, OpenStreetMap usage, and financial and non-financial incentives all play a role.

This year is the first year when will work under our new budgeting system, letting us easily link every expenditure to the budget. This means we will get better at showing where your donations are going: it’s not only spreadsheets and numbers, but about trust and accountability. It has been the product of a lot of work, started back when I was OSMF treasurer. This will help us fundraise more effectively.

Fundraising is, indeed, an area where we need to work more to be able to achieve our goals. Some of the largest OSM data users don’t contribute at all to keeping it running. We have mostly fundraised from large tech companies (thank you!), and must also expand to other sectors that are part of our ecosystem, including governments, humanitarian NGOs and transit companies, to increase our income’s resilience against market cycles.

Attribution is another key area. It’s not about ego; it’s about creating a funnel for the virtuous circle that improves the map. Our copyright page is the single largest landing page on our site, and due for a revamp, transforming it into a recruitment tool for new mappers and donors rather than just a legal necessity.

Major vandalism incidents in Israel and Ukraine marked us in 2023. We have patched the most vulnerable spots ad hoc, and managed to discourage the vandals. If we could more easily moderate what gets submitted before it hits the API, we would address a core vulnerability and improve data quality. I’m picturing an auto-moderation engine for which DWG could write rules, like an email filter. It would, of course, be a major engineering project and require careful planning.

Improving the reliability of our operations is one of the most rewarding long-term projects. By improving many things a little bit at a time, we’re reducing the areas where our infrastructure is at risk from a single failure. If any of the open tickets inspires you, please help us out.

I have for the last few years worked to encourage the OSMF to hire more staff – we have enough work for a dozen people if we can get the funding. Managing our operations and projects has long been too much for volunteers to handle. I would like to make progress on hiring an executive director for the OSMF to be able to work on ideas like this full time.

These goals suffer not from a lack of vision or talent, but a lack of hands and time. If you care about making these happen, please donate, or join one of our working groups.

Mateusz

Since the start of my activity as an OSMF board member, a bit more than a year ago, I have spent in a total of 390 hours on various OSMF-specific work. Recently it was budgeting discussions but earlier also for example work on ensuring that OpenStreetMap is attributed when required, coordinating contact between organisers of upcoming SotM-EU and memebers of working groups, getting community feedback into strategic plan and various communication – with community in general, working groups and members of both. And a lot of discussions/meetings.

Currently, I am thinking about how the budgeting process can be improved for the next year, based on how it went this year.
I will work further on encouraging to attribute OpenStreetMap, as required by our license.
I also want to spend some time on making clear how we spend money and how we will spend it with more funds raised – both to make clear to the community what is happening with our funds and to encourage potential donors to help us fund cases where smartly spending money can help OpenStreetMap.

I also want to thank for all the work done – by all mappers, people helping as part of working group or without a defined structure, other board members, people who donated money, people who have released various software making it easier to edit or use OpenStreetMap data. And people who use OpenStreetMap data in various interesting and useful ways.

Roland

The volunteers of the Foundation heard in the past years loud and clearly the expectation to get longstanding software work done – on top of maintaining a stable platform including the responsibility for your SRE. For example, vector tiles on osm.org are no longer a vision, but now work in progress.

The board’s job within that framework is to ensure the funding for all of these goals. The board has heard loud and clearly the message last year that there is open homework despite the absoutely honorable mission. Alan Mustard’s keynote at the SotM EU has given a good overview what alreadly is done and what still is ongoing work.

The board will organize finances in a way such that they look much more familiar to people who are used to donate to benevolent causes. And thus the finances also become more transparent to our community than ever has been asked for! I’m very happy that Guillaume has convinced Harrison to bring his expertise in finances of non-profits to OpenStreetMap. The board has started to set up a budget, will maintain a forecast, and seek close communication with the working groups to assure both financial reliability and ensure the working groups can focus on their maximum contribution towards the Foundation’s mission to support OpenStreetMap.

Sarah

This year in the OSMF board has started with intense discussions on budget and spending. Fundraising for all the activities necessary to advance the strategic plan will still be an important task for 2024. But there are other things to organise around that: defining the rules for our financial management, getting some project management in place and learning how to work with our contractors. Last year I’ve also started looking into the practical steps of moving the OSMF into the EU and will continue to work on that throughout the year. Finally, we are celebrating our 20th birthday and I hope to see everybody in Nairobi at SotM to celebrate together.

Help Us Grow and Diversify OSMF Membership Worldwide

by Arnalie Vicario

Welcome to the 2024 OpenStreetMap Foundation Membership Campaign!

Today, members of the OpenStreetmap Foundation (OSMF) Board and several of the OSMF Working Groups are launching a worldwide OSMF Membership campaign with the goal of growing and diversifying OSMF membership in regions where there are no or very few OSMF members.

As you can see from this map, there are many such regions.

A visualization of OSMF membership by country, worldwide

OSM is known for being built by a vast, global community of mappers, GIS professionals, community builders, developers, engineers, trainers, etc. over the last twenty years of the map’s existence, all of whom contribute their local knowledge and maintain open and free geospatial data.

The OSM Foundation administers and supports the making of OSM by overseeing OSM’s technological systems and data. It also helps steer the long-term strategy and well-being of the map.

So, it’s very important to have the membership of the OSM Foundation be reflective of the vast diversity of its community.

Why Do We Need an #OSMFMembershipCampaign?

As headlined on the OSMF website, the OpenStreetMap Foundation is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data and to providing geospatial data for anyone to use and share.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to be a member of the OSM Foundation to make a profile on OSM.org and begin editing OpenStreetMap. You don’t even have to be a member to volunteer for a local community or a Working Group, or go to a State of the Map event or participate in a mapping party.

However, if you want to make a difference in the overall future of OSM, becoming an OSMF member is a good idea. For example, OSMF members are entitled to vote in the affairs of the Foundation, including to select members of the Board. OSMF members can also self-nominate for the Board. As you can see from its charter, the OSM Foundation values OSM contributors, and the OSMF membership exists to give dedicated contributors a voice in how the Foundation is run. 

However, of 16 January 2024, there are just 1,929 OSMF members. This is a small percentage of the overall number of active mappers in OSM. (Pascal Neis has provided many resources, including this one, which show the data about the tens of thousands of people who are mapping at any one time and the millions who have mapped over the last 20 years.)

The fact that there are only 1,929 OSMF members means that just a tiny percentage of OSM’ers are electing the board and helping shape the OSM strategic plan and finances.

Further, here is the regional distribution of the 1,929 OSMF members.

To be successful at its goal to represent the interests of the OSM community, the OSMF must increase its membership in regions and countries where there are no or very few OSMF members.

The only way this will happen is if many thousands of OSM users decide to join the OSM Foundation as a member–TODAY!

What Are The Benefits of Being a Member of the OSMF?

  1. You get to play a direct role in choosing the leadership of the OSM Foundation. OSMF members vote every year at the Annual General Meeting, usually held in December, to elect the people who serve as volunteers on the OSMF Board. Importantly, you have to be a member in good standing 90 days before the election, so the time to join is now.
  2. If you’re a member during the 180 days before the General Meeting, you can self-nominate to serve as a member of the OSMF Board. This allows you to influence the strategic plan, some of OSM’s finances and other matters of governance.
  3. You show your support for the map and the community.

    Here are additional reasons.

Please help shape the future of OSM by joining the OpenStreetMap Foundation

I Want to Help with the #OSMFMembershipCampaign

  1. Be a Campaign Ambassador!
  1. Join the Team! Comment on the Call for Volunteers thread in the OSM Community Forum.
  • We are specifically looking for volunteer translators who can help us translate into different languages, specifically:
    • French
    • Spanish (Juan)
    • Arabic
    • Portuguese
    • Swahili
  • We are also looking for help to explore other spaces where we can reach OSM community members, for example by organizing webinars, researching spaces e.g. podcasts where we can promote the campaign, and going live on social media (e.g. Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, etc.).

Here is the OSMF Membership Drive 2024 Plan on the OSM Wiki.

For any additional questions and comments, reach out to us via the OSM Community Forum thread.

We appreciate your help and look forward to growing and diversifying OSMF membership with you!

The OSMF Membership Campaign Team


The OpenStreetMap Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, formed to support the OpenStreetMap Project. It is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data for anyone to use and share. The OpenStreetMap Foundation owns and maintains the infrastructure of the OpenStreetMap project, is financially supported by membership fees and donations, and organises the annual, international State of the Map conference. Our volunteer Working Groups and small core staff work to support the OpenStreetMap project. Join the OpenStreetMap Foundation for just £15 a year or for free if you are an active OpenStreetMap contributor.

Welcome OpenStreetMap Belgium, the newest (and returning) OSMF Local Chapter

by Arnalie Vicario

We would like to congratulate OpenStreetMap Belgium on becoming an OpenStreetMap Local Chapter (again)!

The past year was a rebuilding year for OSM.be. Regaining Local Chapter status was the cherry on top. The official status confers a seriousness and professionalism when working with outside organizations, and fosters leadership opportunities for OSM.be members when it comes to OSM Foundation policy making.

In a statement for this blog post, the OpenStreetMap Belgium Board noted that:

We had a tough 2023 when we had to reinvent ourselves as a separate organization. The good thing about that is that we’re now a much less complex organization. Furthermore, our bylaws now have legal standing, and we were able to set rules that better fit OSM-style leadership.

OSM.be’s goals for 2024 include promoting important mapping tasks and supporting member projects. They will also continue their camera grant project and keep working with Mapillary to distribute more 360° cameras across Europe. Another exciting project is to set up a Panoramax instance for Belgium. This project is in the relationship building stage as they seek to partner with governments and universities on servers.

Background

OpenStreetMap Belgium first became a Local Chapter on May 24th 2018. At that time, OSM Belgium was operating under Open Knowledge Foundation Belgium (OKFN). The Local Chapter agreement was terminated in September 2023 after OSM Belgium had resigned from OKFN Belgium. In November 2023, OSM Belgium re-applied for Local Chapter status as an independent organisation. The OpenStreetMap Foundation Board approved the application on January 25th 2024.

from https://openstreetmap.be/

Thank you to the OpenStreetMap Belgium community for spreading the good word about OSM, and educating people about the power of open data, local knowledge and community!

Interested in Becoming a Local Chapter?

Reach out to the Local Chapters and Communities Working group via email local@osmfoundation.org, or post any questions you may have in the community forum thread: Local Chapters: What To Know and How to Join.

Learn more about OSMF Local Chapters here:


The OpenStreetMap Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, formed to support the OpenStreetMap Project. It is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data for anyone to use and share. The OpenStreetMap Foundation owns and maintains the infrastructure of the OpenStreetMap project, is financially supported by membership fees and donations, and organises the annual, international State of the Map conference. Our volunteer Working Groups and small core staff work to support the OpenStreetMap project. Join the OpenStreetMap Foundation for just £15 a year or for free if you are an active OpenStreetMap contributor.

Mappers, Universities, Companies, and nonprofits Contributed Over £373,000 to Support OSM in 2023

Last year, the global OpenStreetMap community, together with OSM’s corporate members and partners, donated an astounding £373,000 to support the map.

In an extraordinary show of support for OSM’s 19th birthday, the mapping community contributed over £113,000 through small donations. This enthusiastic broad base of community support resulted in approximately 3,089 donations from all over the world averaging £36 each. The OSM fundraising committee is especially grateful for the social media shares and the kind and encouraging comments on supporting.openstreetmap.com, in addition to the gifts. The positive response to the birthday fundraising campaign was a  highlight of the year. Thank you! 

OSM’s corporate partners also played a pivotal role, with total corporate memberships reaching £201,074. Additional, generous gifts, above and beyond corporate membership fees, from Microsoft, NextGIS, Smoca, and Elasticsearch helped bring us to the £373,000 total. We are also grateful to the corporate Advisory Board for their advice and collaboration which has been essential to the success of our partnerships.Thank you!

A special note of thanks goes out to NextGIS, which has pledged 10% of its profits from data sales to OSM, setting an impressive standard for its commitment to the project.  

In an extraordinary show of support for OSM’s 19th birthday, the mapping community contributed over £113,000 through small donations. This enthusiastic broad base of community support resulted in approximately 3,089 donations from all over the world, averaging £36 each.

OSM is fortunate to be the recipient of mission critical, “in kind” support through donations hardware and other infrastructure. We are grateful to Fastly, who provide the content delivery network for the file service, and many others, including TomTom, Bytemark, AWS and University College London, as well as AARNet, AWS,Academic Computer Club, Umeå University, Appliwave, Bytemark, Equinix Amsterdam, Equinix Dublin, Exonetric, INX-ZA, NetAlerts, OSUOSL, OVH, and Scaleway and everyone else who contributes to OpenStreetMap.

We’d also like to add a special note of thanks to  Kevin Bushaw, who gave us a steep discount on our new website, supporting.openstreetmap.org.

The funds raised  in 2023 will go toward enhancing infrastructure, supporting our critical support staff including our SSRE, and helping build OSM into the future.

On behalf of OSM’s local communities, the OSMF board would like to thank the companies who sponsored SotMs in 2023, both regional and local. This kind of support is very important to local communities, because the OSMF itself cannot promise companies that their funding goes towards regional events, except where the money is earmarked as part of a Sponsorship Distribution Agreement. Companies who directly support regional events are making a positive difference for the community and the quality of the map.

Lastly, we want to point out that any generosity toward OpenStreetMap is generosity to the broader open source software and data community, not just the OSM project. The impact of your gifts extends far beyond the financial; it is a commitment to a world where open data serves as a cornerstone for creativity, problem-solving, and community building.

Thank you for supporting OpenStreetMap!


The OpenStreetMap Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, formed to support the OpenStreetMap Project. It is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data for anyone to use and share. The OpenStreetMap Foundation owns and maintains the infrastructure of the OpenStreetMap project, is financially supported by membership fees and donations, and organises the annual, international State of the Map conference. Our volunteer Working Groups and small core staff work to support the OpenStreetMap project. Join the OpenStreetMap Foundation for just £15 a year or for free if you are an active OpenStreetMap contributor.

2024: announcing the year of the OpenStreetMap vector maps

OpenStreetMap will take a large leap forward with the introduction of vector tiles on openstreetmap.org this year. This is the first of a series of blog posts where we will share our progress.

To lead our vector tiles project, the OpenStreetMap Foundation has hired Paul Norman, a renowned figure in cartography and open data, whose journey with OpenStreetMap began in 2010 with a chance encounter on the xkcd forums. His role in the community took off with his work on OpenStreetMap Carto in 2013. His volunteer involvement with the OSM Foundation, including contributions to several working groups and a tenure on the OSMF board, highlights his commitment to the project. Professionally, he has held various influential positions at MapQuest, CartoDB, Wikimedia Foundation, and Amazon. Billions have seen the products of his work. To read more from Paul, visit his blog for technical deep dives into vector tiles, follow him on Mastodon or on Twitter.

Vector tiles represent a significant advancement in how map data is processed and presented. Unlike traditional raster tiles, which are static images with pixels, vector tiles are like the ‘SVGs’ of the mapping world: you get lines and points. This stores geodata in a format that allows for dynamic styling and interactivity, enabling the user to adapt the visual appearance of the map without altering the data. If that sounds like what you’ve seen on other maps, you are right! Vector tiles have become industry standard in interactive maps that, unlike openstreetmap.org, don’t get updated often, and where you can simply recalculate your whole database occasionally.

But the map displayed on openstreetmap.org are quite uniquely different! They get updated incrementally and constantly, a minute after you edit; it’s a critical part of the feedback loop to mappers – and how the author of this blog post got hooked in the first place. This is why we have to invest in our own vector tile software stack.

In the direct future, for users, this will mean a new, modern-looking map style with seamless zoom on openstreetmap.org. Looking further ahead, the most exciting part is what this vector tile project will make easy for volunteers and tile users: 3d maps, more efficient data mixing and matching and integration of other datasets, thematic styles, multilingual maps, different views for administrative boundaries, interactive points of interest, more accessible maps for vision-impaired users, and I’m sure many other ideas that no one has come up with yet. This technology is not just a leap in aesthetics, but also in functionality, enhancing the overall user experience.

In the 2021 community survey (page 15), there was no clear sentiment on what the foundation should do on vector tiles. We noticed a split in preferences: some advocated for volunteer-led development, others for professional engagement. The ecosystem has evolved since then, making it easier to build on top of existing software bricks. We see our project as a reasonable balance between the two most popular answers. Investing in core software is also part of our multi-year strategic plan.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation depends on donations to finish this project. If you would like to support our year of vector tiles specifically, you can donate and leave ‘vector tiles’ in the donation message. Every contribution, large or small, directly supports our ability to ensure that OpenStreetMap can be open, accessible and dynamic for all. Your support is not just a donation; it’s an investment in the future of open-source mapping.

We’re just at the beginning of this exciting journey. Stay tuned as we will delve deeper into the schema and style aspects in future blog posts.

OSM Named as a Digital Public Good by UN-affiliated Agency

by Craig Allan

OpenStreetMap has applied for and has now been registered as a “Digital Public Good” by the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA), which is a multi-stakeholder United Nations-endorsed initiative. The designation is an important step in making sure that OpenStreetMap is recognized for its positive role in global economic development.

By formally registering with the DPGA, the OSM project has now gained further legitimacy and an internationally raised profile tied to the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

What are Public Goods?

The phrase “public goods” was invented by economists to describe things that are free, inexhaustible, and non-competitive. Sunshine is a pretty good example – it costs nothing, it never runs out, and if your neighbour uses lots of it your own supply is not diminished at all.

Like sunshine, OSM data is free, you can use it as much as you want, and even if your neighbour uses a lot of it, too, your own supply doesn’t run out. Note that it’s the data that is a public good, not the servers – our server computers are not free and are a limited resource.

Making the World a Better Place

A panel of experts was convened by the United Nations panel in 2019 to look at digital co-operation in support of global development. Their report on “The Age of Digital Interdependence” had five main recommendations. All five are great proposals, but proposal five is particularly relevant for OSM as it says that the United Nations should foster global digital co-operation. The exact text is:

“Digital public goods are essential in unlocking the full potential of digital technologies and data to attain the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular for middle and low income countries”.

This means that the United Nations is promoting the use of free open software and data as a tool for middle- and low-income counties to allow them to advance and meet the United Nation’s agreed development goals. This promotion is especially important because free data pairs well with free software and the pair can be widely used by even the poorest governments. Plus, free data and apps allow governments to advance their development without diverting scarce resources to pay license fees to companies from wealthy nations.

The UN then created the Digital Public Goods Alliance as its implementing agency for proposal five, with a mandate to advance the development and use of digital public goods for development.

The DPGA has created a register for approved open systems, open applications and open data that is accessible by all for the advancement of global development.

Why is This Important for OSM?

OSM is a large but in some ways unrecognised force in global development. It underlies many humanitarian efforts, supports academic research of many different specialisations, and is a component of much software development, especially in geographic and navigation applications. OSM data is also already widely used by the United Nations agencies, international NGOs and governments at all levels around the world.

By formally registering with the DPGA the OSM movement has now gained further legitimacy and an internationally raised profile tied to the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. More simply put, and this is something most of us knew all along – the UN thinks that OSM is a great tool to make the world a better place for all.

This registration boosts the legitimacy and profile of OSM and its partners and creates new opportunities. One important area lies in the governmental work environment. OSM’s status as a Public Good, could be used to open doors and promote an increased use of OSM by government organisations at national, regional and local levels. This could then give OSM an opportunity to gain access to government-held data, and/or to government funds to boost our mapping community and/or to a range of resources to reinforce our delivery systems, benefitting everyone.

(Note that OSM Foundation has not yet developed a strategy to encourage and facilitate the use of OSM in government spaces; this is still in the idea phase.)

The boost to the profile and legitimacy of OSM and its partners can also help us make the case for philanthropic investment in OSM.

A final wry thought at the possibilities of this opportunity is that OSM was originally created by Steve Coast as a response to controls on government mapping. It would be very satisfying indeed, if free and open mapping grows to be the basis of much government mapping.

FOSSGIS e.V. Commits to Annual Support of OpenStreetMap

The German chapter of OpenStreetMap, FOSSGIS e.V., has voted unanimously to a commitment providing annual financial support to the OpenStreetMap foundation. This is a first-of-its-kind decision for an OpenStreetMap local chapter, reflective of the German OSM community’s relatively large size and financial resources, as well as its strong commitment to the OSM project.


With our large OSM community and many OSM users in Germany FOSSGIS e.V. sees our responsibility to help the global OSM community where we can.

–Jörg Thomsen, chairperson of the FOSSGIS board of directors

No fixed amount has been set by the membership; instead, the FOSSGIS board will set the amount each year, depending on their capabilities and the OSMF’s needs. At its meeting on December 5th the board decided that the contribution for 2023 and 2024 will be 5,000 EUR each.

FOSSGIS e.V. is already a long term supporter of the worldwide OSM community: they run several services open to everyone, including Overpass API, a tile server, routing services (Valhalla and OSRM, which are both directly available from www.osm.org) and others. Learn more about FOSSGIS.



The FOSSGIS community supports OpenStreetMap in countless ways. Direct financial support for the work of the OSM Foundation is above and beyond, and deeply appreciated.

Mikel Maron, OSMF board member and advisory committee coordinator

As a recognized local chapter of the OSMF, FOSSGIS Germany is not obligated to support the OSMF, nor is the OSMF obligated to support FOSSGIS. Local communities are diverse in size, scope and mission, and as such, exist independently from the OSMF and are not required to make any financial contribution to the OSM project. (You can learn more about local communities by reading this blog post or reading this FAQ )

However, a shared love of mapping and free and open source software and data means that OSM local communities and the OSMF are committed to collaborating in every possible way to advance the OpenStreetMap project. The OSMF is very grateful to FOSSGIS for their commitment and contributions!


The OpenStreetMap Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, formed to support the OpenStreetMap Project. It is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data for anyone to use and share. The OpenStreetMap Foundation owns and maintains the infrastructure of the OpenStreetMap project, is financially supported by membership fees and donations, and organises the annual, international State of the Map conference. Our volunteer Working Groups and small, core staff work to support the OpenStreetMap project. Join the OpenStreetMap Foundation for just £15 a year or for free if you are an active OpenStreetMap contributor.