Category Archives: Board

The Foundation board

Get to know the new OSMF Board

In December 2022, four new members were elected to the OpenStreetMap Foundation Board, complimenting the three members already serving. The new members are Arnalie Vicario, Craig Allan, Mateusz Konieczny and Sarah Hoffmann and they join Guillaume Rischard, Mikel Maron and Roland Olbricht.

With regard to the OSMF’s diversity ambitions, this collective of Board members is exciting for two reasons… Firstly, because this is only the second time the OSMF Board has had multiple female members and, secondly, because this is the most geographically diverse board we have seen with representation from across four continents.

So, let’s meet the 2023 Board…

Arnalie Vicario (Philippines)

Arnalie is from the Philippines, and maps under the username arnalielsewhere. She advocates for open data and is passionate about building inclusive spaces in the open mapping and open geo community. She was a GIS Specialist for seven years until she shifted to (online) community engagement in 2020. She works as Online Community Engagement Lead at the Humanitarian Openstreetmap Team (HOT), and as a full time mother.

She has been an OpenStreetMap contributor since 2016, the same year she joined and became part of the OSM community in the Philippines. In 2018, she met her partner at the State of the Map – Milan conference, and reconvened GeoLadies Philippines, an advocacy group for community diversity, collaborative participation, and affirmative spaces especially for women, and under-represented communities in OpenStreetMap. She is a supporter and ally of various communities and networks such as Geochicas, Women+ in Geo, Open Heroines, and more.

You can learn more about her views about community in OpenStreeMap and humanitarian open mapping in the Geomob Podcast Interview – Arnalie Vicario: Building inclusive spaces in OSM as well as through her OSM Diaries.

Craig Allan (South Africa)

Craig comes from a local government background where, as a spatial planner, he received formal training in aerial photo interpretation, photogrammetry and land surveying. He has used commercial GIS systems since the 80’s, starting on the simple but very effective Atlas GIS by Strategic Mapping Inc. and later moving on to the infuriating but effective ARC/INFO by ESRI. Now, he’s a QGIS fan and has used it to support philanthropic work in Rangpur Division, Bangladesh.

Craig concentrates on mapping in Africa under the username, cRaIgalLAn. He appreciates that putting a village on the map may enable residents to be recognised and to receive development support and humanitarian aid. Craig is also very interested in conservation and climate change, so does a lot of mapping of threatened forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in several places in Kenya, including the Mara reserve and forests and wetlands inland of Lamu town. He also maps in north Chad because he’s interested in both rock arches and the East Saharan montane xeric woodland which somehow survives on high mountains in the Sahara.

In his later working life, he did less geography and demographics and more management, including strategic planning, risk management, performance management, budgeting and administrative tasks. These skills and experiences have their uses for building and managing organisations and he now deploys them in the interest of the OSM Foundation and the broader OSM community.

Guillaume Rischard (Luxembourg)

Guillaume Rischard is from Luxembourg and maps as Stereo, which is easier to pronounce (he also that username on the wiki). When he discovered OpenStreetMap in 2008, there were only a few main roads displayed around him. He didn’t take the project seriously. In 2011, he ran into it again, and saw that the map had become a lot more detailed. He spotted a missing name, and when he saw it displayed on the map when he refreshed right after saving it, he was hooked. When he uploads a changeset, he still likes to open that place in his browser while it still hasn’t rendered, open the same URL in a new tab a few seconds later, then switch between the tabs.

He works as a freelance data consultant, and was the technical lead and helped drive strategy on the Luxembourg Open Data Portal, where one success was getting the addresses, orthoimagery and official map data of Luxembourg released.

The most significant thing he’s written recently is probably the Membership Working Group report on the 100 suspicious signups. Guillaume and his co-author Steve Friedl were honoured to receive the OpenStreetMap award for influential writing for it at the State of the Map conference in Heidelberg.

He is a member of the Data Working Group and Membership Working Group, and occasionally contributes to the OSM Weekly.

Mateusz Konieczny (Poland)

Mateusz maps and edits the wiki under his own name. He focuses his mapping on local surveying but has also made some bot edits and remote edits. He has also contributed to StreetComplete and other OSM-related tools, such as iD presets and JOSM. He focuses significant time on contributing to the OpenStreetMap Wiki, especially on documenting tagging schemes and reviewing uploaded files to make sure they have the correct copyright information.

Mateusz would like to contribute to greater transparency, attribution and GDPR compliance whilst on the board.

Mikel Maron (USA)

Mikel Maron is a programmer and geographer working for impactful community and humanitarian uses of open source and open data. He started with OSM in 2005. He was elected to the OSMF Board in 2015, and previously served from 2007-2012. He currently works at The Earth Genome, leading digital products. Previously, he led the Community team at Mapbox. He is co-founder of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, of GroundTruth Initiative, and of the Map Kibera project. He’s travelled widely, organizing mapping projects in India, Palestine, Egypt, Swaziland, and elsewhere.

He maps under mikelmaron and contributes to the wiki under Mikel.

Roland Olbricht (Germany)

Roland Olbricht came to OSM in 2008. Since 2011 he has maintained and operated the Overpass API independent of his day job. Before Covid, he participated in multiple local meet-ups in Germany. He contributes to the OSM wiki under the username, Roland.olbricht.

In his professional life, Roland makes software for public transit as a software developer for the company MENTZ GmbH.

Sarah Hoffmann (Germany)

Sarah Hoffmann has been contributing to OpenStreetMap since 2008 under the username of lonvia (she also contributes to the wiki under the same name).

She started out as a simple mapper, collecting a lot of data while hiking in the Swiss Alps. Over the years she became more and more involved in software development for OSM. She is maintainer for Nominatim, osm2pgsql, and a couple of other projects. She is part of the OSMF sysadmin team where she is responsible for the Nominatim servers and has helped out in the programme committee of State of the Map over the last couple of years.

In 2020 she finally gave up pretending that OSM is just a hobby. Nowadays she works as a freelancer doing development and consulting for OSM software in general and Nominatim in particular. She lives in Dresden, Germany.

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.

Nominate yourself for the OSM Foundation Board Elections by October 22!

The OpenStreetMap Foundation logo

Here’s an opportunity to get involved in the OpenStreetMap Foundation, the nonprofit that supports the OSM project!

The OpenStreetMap Foundation Board elections are coming up in December, and there are three seats that will be open. If you’re interested in running, the deadline to nominate yourself is coming up, October 22, 2022 at 23:59 UTC.

About the OpenStreetMap Foundation Board of Directors

The seven-person Board of Directors works on OSM Foundation matters on a volunteer (unpaid) basis and is elected by the OSM Foundation membership.

The board meets regularly to work on administrative, policy, and fundraising issues, to vote on resolutions and to support the OSMF Working Groups, which are also composed of volunteers. The Working Groups are always looking for help too! 

For the December election, the terms of Board members Eugene Alvin Villar, Jean-Marc Liotier and Tobias Knerr are expiring, so their seats will be available. (They also may choose to run again.)

If you’re interested in running yourself, or know someone who might be, there is more information about nominations and the elections here. You can nominate yourself!

Board members serve two year terms and may be reelected a few times, with a term limit of three terms in the last eight elections. (You can get more information about board term limits in sections 33 and 34 of the OSMF Articles of Association. The Articles of Association are the rules and guidelines of the OSM Foundation.)

The Board elections start December 3rd and close December 10th. You can see more key dates here.

Monthly board meetings are open to OSMF members to observe or ask questions. You can find minutes of past meetings here.

Why you should run for the Board

We always need board candidates! Consider it yourself or ask someone else who you think might be good for the next OSMF board election, which will take place on the 10th of December, 2022! 

Why run for the board? Below you can read the personal views of current and past board members:

(Please note that in order to run, you need to be a Normal OSMF member 28 days before the election, not an Associate one, and you must have been a member during the full 180 days before the election.)

If you’re not already a member of the Foundation, it’s a great way to support the OpenStreetMap project, voice your opinions and also become eligible to vote in Board elections. You can learn how to join the OSMF here, which can be free if you are an active contributor to OSM.

Note: translations for this post are to come.

About 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.

OSMF election 2021- How to become a board candidate

OpenStreetMap Foundation members will vote to elect a new board in December.

Who can become a board candidate

Any natural person may be elected to become a board member, provided that:

  • they have been a normal OSM Foundation member [1] (not an associate member [2]) during the full 180 days before the General Meeting (start date of normal membership before 14 June 2021), and
  • are willing to act as a board member, and
  • are permitted by law to do so.
[1] Normal members provide their full residential address and can vote on all issues. Their residential address may be disclosed to other members.
[2] Associate members provide just their country of residence - which may also be disclosed to other members - and can vote - but not on all issues. Additionally, they cannot be board candidates.

If you want to find out the type of your OpenStreetMap Foundation membership (normal or associate), please check the most recent approval/renewal membership email or email the volunteers of the Membership Working Group at

Available seats in this election

The 2021 board election will have at least 4 board seats available: of M. Maron, A. R. McCann, A. Mustard and G. Rischard. The terms of T. Knerr, JM Liotier and E. A. Villar will continue.

Currently there are seven seats on the foundation board. Board members are volunteers.

What the board is/is not, rules and responsibilities and why run

Please read the links on the OSM wiki.

A lot of the foundation’s work is done by the volunteers of our working groups, and if you want to help the foundation, you can also look at joining those.

How to nominate yourself

Update: The self-nomination window has now closed. Thank you to everyone who put their name forward!

Self-nominations of board candidates will open on 16 October 2021 and you will be able to nominate yourself on this OpenStreetMap wiki page:

You can create an account on the OSM wiki here and you will be able to add your name to the table that will be added on that date by editing the page here (please wait until 16 October 2021 to do so).

Resources about the 2021 board election and Annual General Meeting

The main two pages that will have the information about the 2021 board election and Annual General Meeting are:

OSM wiki: and

OSMF website:

How you can help

A few of the current and past board members have mentioned that the thought of being a candidate did not cross their mind until it was suggested to them. So, you might want to think if you’d like to run for the board or to suggest being a candidate to others.

Do you want to translate this and other blog posts in another language..? Please send an email to with subject: Helping with translations in [language]

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. It has no full-time employees and it is supporting the OpenStreetMap project through the work of our volunteer Working Groups.

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Toward resolution of controversies related to iD

The OpenStreetMap Foundation Board of Directors seeks to resolve controversies that have periodically arisen around updates of and enhancements to the iD editor. This request for comment is expected to lead to adoption of community structures that will not answer to the Board or be influenced by the Board, in keeping with the OSM philosophy that the Board supports OSM but does not tell anybody what to map or how to map. We ask that comments be made on the OSM-talk mailing list (register to OSM-talk) or -if you are an OSMF member- to the OSMF-talk mailing list discussion (register to OSMF-talk).

OSMF offers and recommendations for iD governance

iD is the simple, friendly, default web editor for OpenStreetMap, centrally important software for the project. There’s a lot of passion about its development, and that appears sometimes to become a problem.

The OSMF Board recently convened a small gathering to discuss how to improve the development environment for iD. While there have certainly been times when major and minor decisions in iD have triggered conflict, the vast majority of development discussions are non-polarizing and productive. The convening focused on the key areas where problems emerge (most often, though not only, tagging), and ways to allow for constructive disagreement and resolution, without their deteriorating into disputes that hurt the project.

Essentially, the maintainers of iD need a productive space to carry out their work; contributors, users and other interested parties need to be heard; the decision-making process needs to be understood and respected; and disputes need a way to escalate and resolve.

There’s no technical solution to this kind of situation. What’s required is process and organization. To that end, below are several offers and recommendations from the OSMF Board that the iD project may consider supporting and adopting. We hope that the iD project finds these suggestions helpful and looks forward to discussing what sounds workable and what does not.

OSMF will establish an appeal process

OSMF is seriously considering creating or identifying a body to adjudicate various kinds of technology disputes, capable of drawing on expertise ad hoc to determine the best path forward for the community. Software projects could opt-in into using this appeal process; it would not be required. This appeal process may simply involve arbitrating the disagreement between different parties or projects and helping to find agreement between them; or might involve making or overruling decisions. This mechanism is under early discussion, yet to be defined.

If disputed decisions cannot be resolved directly within the iD project by its maintainers and stakeholders, then the issue can be escalated to this appeal process.

The role of this group would certainly not be to force developers to add certain features. However, if issues are escalated to the group, it could verify that newly added features (e.g., presets, validation rules, or inclusion of external services) are in line with a consensus view.

If this sounds potentially helpful at this stage, OSMF asks iD to share input and expectations to make the process most effective.

OSMF will support development of better systems for tagging decisions; iD documents status quo and separation of concerns

The only way to assess the “correct” tags is a baroque evaluation of the various sources of OSM documentation – the wiki, tagging mailing list, taginfo. This leaves editing and consumption tools in the position to “decide” on what tags are appropriate or not for OpenStreetMap. When this turns contentious, at best this is an unwelcome distraction; and at worst, development can be blocked. To this end, the OSMF welcomes the development of better documentation, decision-making and a curation process for tags. Where needed, the OSMF is prepared to aid such efforts with infrastructure and other support. This would provide a greater degree of clarity for tool developers. If an action taken on presets in iD is contested, the issue could be escalated to the appeal process described above.

For iD’s part, while work on tagging systems is ongoing, we recommend now adding detail on the status quo approach iD takes to tagging decisions in It’s clear that iD aspires to refrain from making decisions on what tags are appropriate for OpenStreetMap; rather, iD aims to represent the consensus view on tags in presets. “Consensus” is currently subjective, and the iD project strongly (we believe, please say so if otherwise) supports efforts in OSM to bring more clarity to how tags are developed.

Presets can be requested in issues, and in PRs, as well as discussion in the issue/PR. The maintainer of iD reserves the right to include or exclude certain tags/presets on technical or usability grounds, though the goal is to avoid curating tags and making decisions on the merits of tags in general. If there seems to be consensus, based on evaluation of source documentation, and it meets a need for other users, presets will be accepted. If there is not clear consensus, the preset (or validation rule, etc.) won’t be accepted.

Institute quarterly planning meetings, and publish bi-weekly sync time and notes

OSMF recommends iD hold a quarterly (or so) video meeting with iD stakeholders. This meeting is a chance to step out of the everyday work of iD and make sure work is on the right path. The agenda would assess development over last quarter, discuss requirements and priority needs, and make plans for the next quarter and beyond. Additionally if any decisions or topics have proven difficult or disputed over the past quarter, this is a time for direct discussion. Notes will be taken and distributed.

Additionally, iD holds a bi-weekly sync, but it is not well known. iD could raise awareness of the bi-weekly sync by announcing it on additional channels, including; and make sure notes from the sync are visible and accessible.

iD can improve clarity on decision making and communication

We recommend that in iD maintainers add a new section which explains how decisions are made in iD. Some points made here are contingent on adopting other recommendations. The new section would explain the following.

  • There are many places to discuss and input on iD development – GitHub issues and PRs, the monthly syncs, quarterly planning meeting, and in response to announcements on
  • The developers of iD are committed to being responsive and transparent. By default, iDs maintainers determine the sequence and timing of fixes, changes and enhancements in order to optimize technical work.
  • Invite stakeholders to join an “acceptance testing” process, where feedback on releases is sought and handled for a time delimited period of time.
  • Ultimate decision on accepting PRs is with iD’s maintainer, Quincy Morgan.
  • If there is a dispute on a decision, that will be escalated to the quarterly planning meeting and/or an appeal process managed within the OSM Foundation.

Additionally, we recommend that iD publish a roadmap and regularly update status on major iD releases. iD3 plans were last shared at SotM US. The approach has changed, with more focus on updated UI, and more iterative efforts on componentization. It would be good to get a clear idea of where things are, and where things are going (as much as is clear now), and especially where help is needed in order to build momentum on this important effort.

Document how Code of Conduct is handled

iD has a Code of Conduct but it lacks details on how to report a harmful incident within the iD development environment, and how those reports are adjudicated. Previously Code of Conduct complaints were addressed openly by opening an issue on GitHub, but maintainers later directed people towards the private OSMUS committee. Clarity on process is just as important, if not more, in order for a CoC to be helpful to the project. If that process is not well defined, then thought is needed, perhaps within the quarterly planning meeting. Our recommendation is to add a section on CoC process.

Allan Mustard
Chairperson, OSMF Board of Directors

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. It has no full-time employees and it is supporting the OpenStreetMap project through the work of our volunteer Working Groups. Please consider becoming a member of the Foundation.

OpenStreetMap was founded in 2004 and is a international project to create a free map of the world. To do so, we, thousands of volunteers, collect data about roads, railways, rivers, forests, buildings and a lot more worldwide. Our map data can be downloaded for free by everyone and used for any purpose – including commercial usage. It is possible to produce your own maps which highlight certain features, to calculate routes etc. OpenStreetMap is increasingly used when one needs maps which can be very quickly, or easily, updated.

OSMF Board face to face meeting 2019

The OSMF Board. From left to right: Frederik Ramm, Kate Chapman, Paul Norman, Heather Leson, Mikel Maron, Tobias Knerr and Joost Schouppe. Photograph by Allen Gunn, CC-BY-SA 4.0.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation Board is a special thing. Elected by the Foundation members, we come from very different backgrounds and parts of the world. Several of us had never met in person before. Most of our communication is asynchronous. We have only a single one hour phone meeting every month, usually in public. Now imagine this group of people trying to tackle complicated problems together.

Thus the tradition to have a yearly face to face meeting. Though the meeting was later than we hoped, the timing turned out right. We had already tackled some of the biggest issues that needed attention, and were finally in a good place to look at the bigger picture.

The face to face meeting means more time to work together than over the rest of the year combined. To make things even more productive, we had professional assistance from Allen Gunn, Aspiration. This helped greatly to make sure it wasn’t just the most outspoken who talked, that the important stuff got some attention, and that we didn’t get into each others’ hair. Too much at least. Just kidding: put people who believe in OpenStreetMap together in one room, and it turns out we can have a productive conversation without much issue.

On to actual business

So what did we talk about? (apart from that it’s hard to leave baby goats behind, that you need to be a vegetarian to drive a Land Rover, and sacrilegious stuff like that BrewDog has the best beer in Belgium).

If we learned one thing from the last election season, it’s that it wouldn’t be technically illegal and not hard at all for a “bad actor” to game the election. We spent several hours analyzing what we could do to mitigate such risks. And then a few more to identify the solutions we can actually implement before the next election.

Working on things like this, we have noticed that our working relationship with the various Working Groups is not without its issues. We took a long hard look in the mirror and came up with a list of questions we would like to ask the Working Groups, to better understand how we can do better as a board. We’ll be sharing what we worked on with Working Groups soon. The results of that will be a starting point to see where we can help Working Groups to succeed in their goals.

We started off from our own priorities, but on the second day we took the recent survey into account. We got 161 full responses. There were some requests we could not handle, such as smashing the capitalist world system. But even the answers that are not really in Board scope were very informative and sometimes even came as a surprise.

There were many requests to deal with tags, editor presets, improvements to the website and core technology. On the top of the list were two threats: a hostile takeover scenario, and our own divisions as a community (community health). Having these items outlined by that community did help us to see that it’s not just peculiar board members who care about this, but something that really lives in the community. We want to get deeper insights into these issues and plan to do more detailed surveys in the future. We’ll be sharing more details on the survey and surveying in general soon.

Any other business

The meeting is a good time to revive some important but “dormant” issues. We’ve made good progress on Board term limits and Microgrants. But we also know that efficiency gains are not enough: we need more help to realise our goals. Since we’re all very happy with Dorothea’s work for us, we are planning to extend her hours. We will always be a volunteer organisation, and we are looking at ways to make sure that she does as little as possible that could have been done by a volunteer.

Personal lessons learned

While it is a costly affair, having a full board meeting for two-and-a-half days seems definitely good value for money. Especially for me, as a new member it feels like things have finally started. If we have a more international club in the future, it will be even more useful to bridge the cultural, gender, and power gaps.
Personally, I would like to see the face to face happen sooner after the election. There is an advantage to having been on the board for a couple of months already: it gives you a better of idea of what is realistic. While I was a bit frustrated with the relatively limited amount of stuff that made it to the action item list, it would still already be a huge success if we can get most of that list done.

Joost Schouppe

The OpenStreetMap Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, formed in the UK 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. The OpenStreetMap Foundation has no full-time employees and it is supporting the OpenStreetMap project through the work of our volunteer Working Groups. Please consider becoming a member and read about our fee-waiver program.

Thoughts on the OSMF Face-to-Face Board Meeting 2018

Like 2016 and 2017, the OSMF board had a face-to-face meeting again this year. This time, we met in Karlsruhe, Germany, at the office of Geofabrik. Meeting at Frederik’s and Christine’s place was a great choice and Frederik was a great host. In addition to having plenty of room to talk and work we even got home-made cheese cake from Christine (thank you!).

OSMF Board eating cheese cake after an invitation by Christine. © CC-BY-SA Dorothea

I had a short trip by car and arrived on Friday, 27th of April in the late afternoon and the official schedule started Saturday morning. Most of my colleagues, who had to take a longer trip by plane, arrived early on Friday or even Thursday and thus had the chance to meet at Frederik’s place for some early preparations and working on some OSMF stuff.

I don’t consider this post a detailed summary of what happened and what was talked about. It’s more about my thoughts about the meeting and about the most prominent topics we talked about. There will be more detailed minutes at a later stage.


Like in previous years, we filled in a small questionnaire about our expectations and plans for this face-to-face meeting and once again it was Mikel who did a great job collecting the input and assembling a schedule for us. The schedule was less tight than in past years and we deliberately left some space for some last-minute topics. We also had some topics where it wasn’t clear if we could make it in the time set, so it was good to have some space for that.

Social interactions

One of the more generic recurring goals was to understand each other’s points of view, work and communication styles. I kind of find it funny how much such a meeting helps in that regard as it’s still a huge difference between reading, hearing and also seeing someone to get to know them better. And while most of us have met before, I think I still gained from it. Additionally it was Heather’s first meetup with the rest of us, so I took the chance to get to know her better.

On the mailing list we were asked about the value of the meeting, if it’s worth it. And as every year I feel the pain of giving a concrete answer to that. It’s hard to measure it as you don’t have any revenue to compare against. Anyway, I think the social aspect of the meeting is an important one. “Did they want to offend me?”, “Are they serious about that or was that a joke?”,… knowing someone in-person makes it easier to understand and classify a response. This makes overall communication easier and more productive I think. And given our organizational budget compared to the money spent, I guess my suggestion for future boards would be to just have a face-to-face meeting by default, without trying to ponder about its value.

Conflict of Interest

The topic about conflict of interest (COI) was a very difficult one and I felt the urgent need to talk about it early on. I thought that some other topics might pose a COI for some of us, so we should talk about COI first.

The problem that I have is that it’s very easy to construct a scenario where something might be a potential conflict of interest and as I wrote in a similar discussion on osmf-talk mailing list, you could easily argue that Mikel, as an employee of Mapbox, kind of always has a potential COI. Rightly Mikel told me, that it’s not hard for him to construct a case making me have a potential COI as well, for whatever topic we talk about.

I seemed to be very passionate about that topic as I got asked several times to explain myself and that the others perceived me as having a strong opinion on it. I actually did not, I had a lot of questions and I felt the need to answer them. We discussed the topic for quite some time, but only very few questions could be answered. Anyway, we agreed that we should have a guideline at some point. Until then, I’d like to invite you to take part in that discussion and share your thoughts on our mailing list. We are supposed to support the community and value their input.

The second conclusion was, that we could use some professional help. That’s why we wrote a mail to “our” lawyer to clarify some of the questions we had. E.g. the legal text about COI speaks about a COI if a person is director in two companies, which basically only applies to Frederik and Kate at best. But what about if you’re an employee in one company and director in the other, like e.g. Mikel or Martijn. The law reads as if that can’t be a COI. So independent of our guideline, such questions should be answered first and I hope we’ll be able to share them with the community soon.

Micro Grants

We had talked about micro grants before and somehow didn’t follow up or finish it. As I said, some of us had been in Karlsruhe on Thursday or Friday, so they took the chance to start working on it at that point in time and we continued to work on it on Saturday and Sunday together. I guess in the end we have a pretty decent plan.

I can’t estimate if micro grants will be successful or not, but I think that it’s a good idea to have something like that and to encourage people to take place in it. In the German chapter, the FOSSGIS e.V., we have something similar and in my opinion it has been proven to be quite valuable, so I hope the OSMF micro grants prove to be a similar success.

Anyway, I guess some more details will pop up on the mailing list soon and the program is scheduled to start at this year’s State of the Map.

Working Groups and Volunteers

This is the second topic we resumed from last year and I’m getting a bit emotional about that one. I love the OpenStreetMap project and its community, the amount of volunteering time spent on the project and the output, our great database and map.

Still I find it very sad that only very few people spend their time on helping to run the project. Almost all working groups suffer from a lack of volunteers, only very few people help developing code for the core services, almost no one participates in organizational discussions about the project and so on. So if you’re reading this post you most likely are not in a working group. Why? It’s so easy to join and help!

Anyway, we talked about ideas how to solve that and how to get volunteers to help. It was a tough topic and I think I was not really enthusiastic about any of the ideas. And in the end I felt the need to abstain from further discussion. I can’t say if there’s a conclusion to that, but one thing we felt is the need to better identify the needs of working groups. I guess it’s not obvious for everyone how much we lack volunteers to keep the project running.

Diversity and Communications

The diversity and communications topic was something I was afraid of as I considered everyone having a very strong opinion on that. At least I have. I thought we’d get into a fight over that, but all of us left without a black eye.

As I said in the begining, these are my thoughts and my opinions, so I don’t want to get into too much detail. But if I read e.g. this code of conduct, my blood pressure rises. I consider it very unfair, I can’t stand rules that know who’s guilty in advance and that consider insults acceptable if they are coming from the correct set of people. I also
dislike how the issue is often approached with a clearly defined “desired outcome”, instead of openly discussing real problems and their potential solutions.

Still, the discussion was not so bad after all. We split up into two smaller groups and I discussed with Frederik, Mikel and Kate and it was interesting to hear their opinions on it. I especially appreciate talking with Kate about it. She’s kind of passionate about the topic and she is able to provide very good examples and insights and she’s amazingly patient with people who ask silly questions :-). It helped me very much understanding other points of view. It didn’t change my mind though but I think the discussion gains much from people like her.


The GDPR is a very important topic as it starts taking effect soon. We talked quite much about it and Heather took the lead on it. She was very well prepared and put considerable time into it. I think she’s also concerned with it in her professional life, so she knows what she’s talking about. I had some reservations that from the outside it would look like we’d overrule the LWG, but we ended up mostly devising strategies for the bits that fell outside of LWG‘s responsibility, and otherwise agreeing with their recommendations.

You can read more on the topic at several places, but I guess the most comprehensive information or summary can be found in Heather’s blog post here


I will abstain from a judgement on whether the meeting is worth the money or not. As Frederik put it some time back: We should just make it default to have a face-to-face meeting and that’s my suggestion for the boards to follow as well.

I think we did get some things done and meeting in person makes it easier, quicker and more productive. As I said above, I hope we’ll gain as a project from the micro grants. I also hope that we started a process to get a guideline for the conflict of interest and I’m eager to read the lawyer’s reply. I deliberately didn’t include details, as you’ll be able to read them in the minutes anyway. But I somehow hope that my post furthers the interest in our project and organizational topics. Please participate in the discussions and share your thoughts.

Summary of Board’s Face-to-Face Meeting

Better late than never, I want to share my thoughts and the topics discussed at the OSMF board’s annual Face-to-Face meeting in May this year.

We met on the 20th and the 21st of May in Amsterdam at the same location as last year. Martijn and Mikel made a quick survey and put considerable time into compiling an agenda for the weekend for us. This year we also had Dorothea, our administrative assistant who helped us keep time and took notes during the meeting for us.

Board members still smiling after a hard day of work

We discussed many topics and I will try to share them with you. I will focus on topics which I believe will be of particular interest to the community, but I’ll also include issues and impressions I simply found interesting myself.

Welcome Mat

Saturday started of with a session about how to define the “OSM community” which was more about knowing where each other stands. This led to the question about the community’s or the board’s relation to “corporate stakeholders” as well. Although I had the impression that we had quite different views on it and I felt a bit like an extremist, this was quite a productive discussion and in a follow up working session we developed a first draft for a “Welcome Mat”. This will be something for organizations and companies to read to familiarise themselves with the project, the community and especially to learn about the expectations we have and the responsibilities they have. The current plan is to compile the main points into a draft to share in July.

Sticky notes everywhere


A planned program for microgrants was the focus of a second large working session on Saturday. You might know similar programs from e.g. OSM-US, HOT or FOSSGIS. As a start and as a first trial we want to make a time-bound program where you can apply for microgrants until a specific date. We discussed many of the details like the budget, the set of applicants, a rough timeline and the need for a committee to help on with the selection and to provide some kind of “supervision”. We plan to have a dedicated blog post and more details coming soon, in August this year.

Working Groups and Volunteers

Sunday started off with a topic that I expected to be highly controversial: Working Groups and their role with regard to the board. But I was proven wrong. We talked about and discussed the scope of each working group, their (potential) needs and their relation to the OSMF board. It was quite interesting as almost every working group has at least one board member in its ranks.

One very obvious theme from our discussion about working groups is the lack of volunteers. Let me add a personal thought here: We have quite a few people running for the OSMF board each year with many great ideas. As the board is mainly assisting, you can achieve something more easily by actually joining a working group and not the board! Anyway, one of our working sessions on Sunday was dedicated to a “volunteer drive”. We run successful money donation drives but money cannot always be used to buy time. So, we really need more volunteers to help run our project, which is why we want to try and run a volunteer drive next year. If you can’t wait that long: Go on and join one of our great working groups now! 🙂

Rapid Fire

We had a couple of rapid fire sessions where each of us could name a topic they are personally interested in. Mine was about our need to properly explain why we need or want an administrative assistant. To make our decision more transparent, we plan to fully disclose the scope of the job’s duties and hope to demonstrate why we think it’s worth spending money on some administrative tasks instead of doing it ourselves or searching for volunteers. In a similar vein, Frederik asked about the others’ thoughts on putting financial tasks into professional hands. One reason, for example, is that it’s a major pain for new board members to get access to our bank account. Furthermore, we talked about an updated travel policy which is scheduled to be drafted in August. We mostly asked what and whom we do fund and up to which amount. One side aspect was to pay Kate’s travel to the SotM-Asia 2017 where she will be the keynote speaker.

Other than that we had a talk about a corporate editing policy, something the DWG has been tasked with and I guess you’ll see a public community survey on that topic soon.


Cute Baby-Alpaca
(c) Zenalpaca, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

Sadly, not many community members had the time to join our planned evening with the local community on Saturday. I still had the opportunity for some interesting private conversations, though: I know a lot more now about growing tomatoes and raising goats and I would recommend anyone with a farm to get some alpacas. 🙂

But we didn’t meet for fun, but for work: It was a friendly and productive meeting and – given the financial outcome of last year (read: the corporate membership program) – it didn’t feel so bad to spend some money on the meeting. We don’t have tangible results to show yet, but that was not the goal: The meeting was about discussion and offered an opportunity to talk about various issues that would be hard or impossible to tackle via the mailing list or on mumble. In order to not let that time go to waste, it’s now important to follow up on those topics. That’s why we ended our meeting with a “Mapping Where from Here” session to produce a schedule with follow-up tasks and a timeline describing what we would like to be finished when. So I hope you’ll hear more about the microgrant program and the welcome mat soon. Stay tuned! 😉

Chairperson’s Report for the OpenStreetMap Foundation 2016 Annual General Meeting

Note: If you are a member of the OSMF you can find more information on the meeting here.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to OpenStreetMap in some way this year. If you mapped, coded, presented or otherwise helped us on our journey to create free map of the entire world this means you. It is an honor to be able to support this community through my role at the OpenStreetMap Foundation and as a community member. 
On behalf of the Foundation thank you to everyone who participated in the organization that supports the continued existence of the project. At the center of this is the Working Groups: without our working groups the core technical services wouldn’t run, we would not have the legal infrastructure to effectively run the project, State of the Map wouldn’t happen, mapping disputes wouldn’t have resolutions, official communications wouldn’t exist, and membership would still be run entirely by the board. Much of the Working Group work is thankless, if you are on a Working Group and see me in the next year please remind me to buy you a beer (or other beverage of choice). 
Members, if you have been a member for years or this is your first AGM I appreciate you. Please continue to state your needs and if you haven’t please speak up. If you are so inclined help us recruit members for 2017. The membership should serve to keep the board on task and I hope someday it will represent the diverse world that we map. 
To the Board Members both new and old, sometimes it is hard to see the forest through the trees. Looking back on this year I think we’ve made some real accomplishments. Sometimes they may not feel like much but they are important the year things we have accomplished:
  • Increasing board transparency by having open board meetings and thanks to Peter especially, communicating generally with the membership sooner.
  • We also had our first community member audit of the financial records.
  • Developing an open-source policy to guide what tools we use to run the OSMF Board
  • Creating and filling of Admin Assistant Role to help make sure the day to day work is done more efficiently.
  • Successfully funding and hosting a donation drive to cover the general operating costs of the OSMF over the next year
  • Updating the Corporate Membership to increase the value of the membership and have it serve as a greater funding base for the OSMF in the future.

Membership Statistics

Here are the regional statistics regarding membership in the OSMF for 2016 with reference to 2015. The regional membership breakdown has changed slightly. 
  • Europe and Central Asia 68.18% [last year 70%]
  • America South, Central, North and Caribbean 22.73%  [last year (USA&Canada) + (Latin America): 23% + 1.5%]
  • Middle East and North Africa 0.65  % [last year 0.5%]
  • Africa West, East, Central and Southern 1.08% [last year 0.5%]
  • Asia-Pacific 7.36%  [last year 4.5%]

Looking Forward

We have made some major steps forward this year, but we have a long way to go. Through my day job work in non-profits we often talk about “what is the vision?” and “how can we get there?” For OpenStreetMap our job will never be done, but we would be well on our way to accomplishing our vision by having equal quality data of the entire world. There are things the OSMF must look towards in the coming year and beyond for that to happen:
  • Supporting mappers is at the core of what we do. Without mappers there is no map
  • Increasing the funding base of the OSMF. This year we have put some pieces in place to allow that but in the next year we must continue to move towards that. This includes getting organizations to sign-up for new levels of corporate membership and successfully running another donation drive.
  • Diversifying the membership of the OSMF (and in the future the board, since that will not happen this election)
  • Providing more clear ways for financial support of Working Groups and Communities

Over the past year I’ve had the privilege to meet OSM contributors on four continents. If I haven’t had the opportunity to meet you please don’t hesitate to reach out. In 2017 I will at the very least be in Australia, the United States, Japan and parts of Europe (not sure which yet). Even if you just want to chat let me know so I can thank you for your contributions and get your feedback. Let’s all continue to make a great map in 2017.

Recap of the OSMF F2F Meeting

Last weekend, the OSMF Board had our face-to-face (F2F) meeting in Amsterdam. I took a cheap flight on Friday and left early Monday morning to spend 2 full productive days in our meeting venue, to work together on stuff that hadn’t happened in our monthly Board meeetings. Preceding the event, we discussed if we should have an in person meeting at all, but we finally agreed to meet. This blog post should give you an overview of the weekend: how it was organized, what happened, what topics we discussed, how I felt about it, and  the more general outcome of the event. However, I’ll leave out most of the detailed results as we’re still working on and will be published soon, I don’t want to preempt that.

The OSMF Board, still happy after a hard day's work

The OSMF Board, still smiling after a hard day’s work


Of course an event like this has to be prepared in advance. This includes accommodation, meals and of course the topics that we wanted to talk about. Martijn was a great help for the first two points as he lived in Amsterdam until 2011. He found a great venue for us that also featured two bedrooms for accommodations. I was one of the lucky ones to get a room, so no extra work for me to find a place. The other Board members mostly took private housing offers nearby the venue; Frederik also stayed in one of the venue’s rooms. As for the meals, Martijn organized breakfast, lunch and dinner. While breakfast and lunch were arranged in a way to not waste any time and to get back to work quickly, we took a bit more time for our dinner and even met with the local OSM community on Saturday.

For planning of topics and arranging the event we worked with Allen Gunn, an experienced facilitator who works frequently with open source communities. For those who don’t know about facilitation, as I didn’t, it’s a person who helps to arrange events, leading sessions and trying to steer them to get things done. And in case of conflicts, responsible to settle things and move back to constructive work. As a first step, he wrote a mail to each of us asking questions on what we expected from the event, what topics we wanted to have on the agenda, what topics might lead to heated debates and things like that. Unfortunately all of that happened a bit late and we only got an agenda for our event on Friday morning, which at first not everyone was happy about. Sadly, Gunner couldn’t make it to the event himself, so we were on our own, guided by the agenda developed by him. I regret that a bit, as I was curious how facilitation would work, but on the other hand, we were able to work well on our own.


As I said above, I don’t want to preempt the results of the meeting, but I guess it’s ok to talk a bit about our agenda. We had a strict schedule, starting at 9:00 and closing at 17:00 on Saturday and Sunday. For example topics, we spent 90 minutes on committing to greater transparency, and about 45 minutes on on boarding the admin assistant. We also had less specific topics like “Comparing Perspective on ‘Leadership'” and “Building Organizational Vitality”.

And even though each topic on the agenda had some extra text explaining it, I was not always sure what to expect. I guess that’s also why other Board members noted in advance that they were not entirely happy with the agenda as is. But this was not a problem after all, as we could easily change the agenda where needed, and take more or less time for one or another topic. I’m not sure if we would have handled this as flexibly if we had in person facilitation.


I was uncertain what to expect from this event, and especially since it was expensive for some Board members flying from overseas. I was hesitant if we needed to meet in person at all. Though, several Board members with experience of F2F meetings were in favor, and as I had never attended an F2F meeting, I couldn’t really judge, so I abstained from that decision. Asked by Gunner, I explained that, and emphasize that I wanted to talk about transparency. I did hope that we could get on common ground there, but I also thought this would be a heated debate, with most other Board members holding a different opinions. I should probably state this now: I was utterly wrong, see below.

Further I was quite nervous and anxious that I would be able to follow the conversations in English and understand everything being said. However, this went pretty well. Even though my English is for sure not super expressive, I was able to contribute to each conversation, even though sometimes a bit haltering 😉 I followed most of what was said, and I could even mostly follow Paul, who was the hardest to understand. (As Paul put it, that’s because Kate and Mikel speak simple American English but he speaks the real thing, Canadian English. :))

Interestingly, another common theme shared with Gunner by Board members was a desire to get things done. They expressed that we didn’t get many things completed yet this year, but at the same time they thought that we had worked well together. So they focused their expectations on this: get things going, do some actual work or at least scope what’s possible, and what was beyond our reach. Also remember, much of OSMF work is actually done by working groups, and we don’t want to command but rather support them.


As noted above, our facilitator Gunner could not make the event, so we had to manage it ourselves. We had the agenda he compiled for us and we used that as our base for discussions. Still you need someone to channel an agenda and in the end, Mikel stepped up to help. He put a considerable amount of time to discuss the event up front with Gunner, and facilitated every single session. As he also wanted to participate himself, with his input and opinion, he had to do both, IMHO a quite difficult task but he did a great job with that for sure.

We started (and closed) quite a few sessions with a round of short statements from each Board member. Everyone would have one minute to explain what they expect from a topic, or how they feel about something. It gave us a quick overview where each participant stood, and thought about the topic. I found this very interesting, I didn’t expect that we shared so many many opinions. Many sessions involved a huge amount of post-its :-). For example, in the transparency session, we glued 4 big sheets on the window with headers “OSMF internal”, “WG internal”, “public readable”, “public writable”. Everyone had a stack of post-its, wrote a topic on each and stuck it to that sheet where it is currently handled (e.g. “meeting minutes” would be “public readable” or “individual donation details” would be “OSMF internal”). Then, we clustered the notes, as we individually had many ideas in common with each other. And after that we did a round-robin, where we each selected an item,and suggested to move it to someplace else. We discussed, and if approved, it got a sticker on it, so we could later record that it moved (e.g. someone takes “board meetings” from “OSMF internal”, moves it to “public readable” and puts a sticker on it) . There were some controversial topics and there were some surprisingly uncontroversial ones. By the end, many things had moved, and I’m especially happy with the outcome of that session.

Most sessions went this way, with a bit of variation. For example, for the session about a “diverse and global community” we had 3 big sheets “Working”, “What we want to change” and “Disagree”. We again collected ideas on post-its, stuck on the first two sheets and clustered them. Topics we didn’t agree on moved to the third column. Then, we voted on the highest priority topics. Everyone got three stickers and was allowed to select whatever they most valued. At the end, we had a few priority topics to work on further.

I still don’t know what to think about this way of working. I’ve never done something like this before. I didn’t think it was the best way of handling every topic, but I have no better ideas on how to deal with something like this. I do have to note, we got things done this way.

On Sunday, we worked a bit differently. We split up into smaller groups to work intensively on topics. One topic was corporate membership, where three of us collected member feedback, and built upon it. Simultaneously, we had a second session about an Open Source Policy which I attended. We got quite negative feedback from some of the community when we said we were evaluating GitHub for tracking our Board’s internal work, so we agreed to write an Open Source Policy as a guideline for software choices. This was one of the topics I’ve been keen on, too. We used an etherpad to collect a list of points, and developed an outline. I’m quite happy with the results and I hope we get this written out soon to share with you.

Outcome & Future

So what is the outcome of all this? It helped me to get to know the other Board members much better, and I hope and even expect that this will also help in the future. Don’t get me wrong, we have worked well together in the past, but now I know better how each of us think about different topics and I have a bit more idea of personal make up of the other Board members, like when something is a joke and when it’s not.

And I especially hope that we’ll be more productive after this meeting. We can let a Board member work on topics important to them, and have a better idea of the scope of our work. I want to see the things we decided become a reality. We have a large number of action items to work on for the next meetings, and I hope these will be finished in the near future.

Even though I’m enthusiastic about the F2F meeting and its results, it is still another question if it’s worth doing again. We spent a good amount of money to meet, and one might argue that we could have achieved the same result with an online meeting, or by discussing everything by email. I’m still not sure about what to think about that. We are going to assess the effectiveness later, when we can see if and how many of our decisions are actually put into action. I did talk to other Board members about this at dinner, and there are at least two good arguments I heard that might make the F2F meeting worth it. First, dedicating so much time to an online meeting as we did at the F2F is almost impossible. When at home I can’t tell my wife and kids to not enter the room, and I wouldn’t be able to take 8 hours off to talk and discuss. The F2F forces you to do so. You meet with six other people, and cognizant of the effort and cost to get there, you’re focused to make the best result. Second, if we do get a corporate membership plan that everyone is happy with, and just get one new gold member, our F2F meeting would be paid for. Still, I’m just repeating other’s arguments; ask me again in two months or so :).

OpenStreetMap Foundation is Hiring an Administrative Assistant

The OpenStreetMap Foundation Board is looking for a detail oriented, part-time administrative assistant with a passion for open communities, who can help accelerate the work of the OpenStreetMap Foundation. Sharp organization and communication skills, and excitement for the mission of OSM will be helpful.

The role’s responsibilities will be to help prepare for meetings, tracking action items and votes; ensure excellent communication between our volunteer community members, working groups and the board; handle inquiries and communicate on behalf of the foundation; and organize our paperwork and publish routine matters.

Is this you? Or know a great candidate? You have until Friday, June 10 (extended!) to apply.

This is the full job posting. Email with applications and any questions.