Category Archives: Jobs

Meet Grant Slater, the OpenStreetMap Foundation’s new Senior Site Reliability Engineer

Thanks to the support of corporate donors, the OpenStreetMap Foundation has been able to hire its first employee, who is starting on 1 May 2022. Grant Slater and Guillaume Rischard, the Foundation’s chairman, sat down for a virtual chat.

Hi! Tell us about you?

Hi! I’m Grant Slater, and I’m the new Senior Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) working for the OpenStreetMap Foundation. I’m originally from South Africa, and now live in London (UK) with my wife Ingrida and our son Richard.

What do you do in OSM? Where do you like to map?

I’ve been mapping since 2006, mostly in the Southern Africa and in the United Kingdom. I have a strong interest in mapping the rail network of South Africa; holidays “back home” often involve booking railway trips across the country, with a GPS in hand.

My latest toy is an RTK GPS base station and rover. I’ll soon be mapping my neighbourhood with centimetre-level accuracy.

For the last 15 years, I’ve been part of the volunteer OpenStreetMap Operations Team who install and maintain the servers and infrastructure which runs the website and many other related services.

What are your plans for the new SRE job?

My main objective will be helping improve the reliability and security of the project’s technology and infrastructure.

One of my goals will be to improve the project’s long-term stability as we grow. OWG can’t work without volunteers, and I will be improving the Operation Team’s bus factor by also improving our processes, documentation, and by smoothing the path to onboarding new team members.

I will be helping to drive forward modernising the project’s infrastructure by reducing complexity, paying-down technical debt, and reducing our need to maintain undifferentiated heavy lifting, by tactically using Cloud and SaaS services, where suitable.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

With time, I would like to see OpenStreetMap introduce new tools and services to improve our mappers’ access to opted-in passively collected data to improve the mappers’ ability to map and detect change.

Gamification! OpenStreetMap should always remain a fun and gratifying experience for all. We’re building an invaluable and unique dataset with far-reaching consequences for which we should be incredibly proud. Happy Mapping!

I would like to hear your feedback and suggestions, please email me

Grant gave a talk at State of the Map US (2013) – OSM Core Architecture and DevOps and is hoping to give an updated talk at State of the Map 2022 in Florence, Italy 19–21 August 2022.

Apply to maintain and develop iD

iD is the editor through which 80% of OpenStreetMap users contribute to the common edifice. The OpenStreetMap Foundation is committed to its support and seeks to staff iD development.

iD development is a funded position with the OpenStreetMap Foundation, with remuneration at market rates according to skills and commitments.

Please submit your application to Include CV, cover letter, and/or examples of work as attachments. Also please indicate your preferences of full-time or part-time, work location, contractor status, and anything else we should consider.

What we are looking for

iD development involves a wide range of roles that may be held by one single polyvalent person – or by more than one, with skills and motivations that complement each other.

The overarching concern will remain addressing and balancing the needs of a diverse range of stakeholders, including:

  • iD mappers and OpenStreetMap community members from around the world
  • Corporate and non-profit players in the OpenStreetMap space
  • Downstream forks and instances of iD
  • Peer projects that rely on components of iD, or that iD relies on

Project management responsibilities will put an emphasis on communications:

  • Foster a welcoming, professional, online public space
  • Maintain and communicate a project roadmap based on input from stakeholders
  • Gather feedback and build consensus around major changes
  • Host regular online audio/video meetings to give updates, receive feedback, and hold discussion
  • Leverage the community to reach out and mobilize beyond the development team’s immediate circle

Of course, the basics of open source software project management shall also be fulfilled:

  • Provide support for existing functionality
  • Design solutions to enable new functionality
  • Review and assist with pull requests from contributors of all skill levels
  • Publish periodic updates with detailed release notes
  • Ensure that a third party can build an independent instance as completely as possible

Some domain-specific knowledge will play an important part in understanding user needs:

  • Some familiarity with the modern field of geospatial technology
  • An understanding of the OpenStreetMap data model, including tags
  • The culture of OpenStreetMap, and the free software and volunteered open data world in general

iD is a web application widely used in a varietiy of technological and social contexts – hence the following areas to which its design must pay careful attention:

  • Usability: ensure that tasks are intuitive to accomplish
  • Accessibility: accommodate a wide range of users’ abilities
  • Localization: adapt the app across language, region, and culture
  • Cross-platform: support all major systems and browsers
  • Tablet support: handle touch and stylus interactions as well as mouse and keyboard
  • Privacy: limit web tracking to the minimum required for operation and keep the Privacy Policy up-to-date
  • Performance: optimize operations for compatibility with the older hardware available to the economically disadvantaged

Development technologies:

  • HTML / CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Node.js
  • Node Package Manager (npm)
  • Data-Driven Documents (D3.js)
  • Git
  • GitHub

Quality control:

  • Code readability
  • Unit testing
  • Continuous integration
  • Debugging
  • Clear documentation, both for users and other developers