Category Archives: Uncategorized

Languages and OpenStreetMap Foundation

Photo by R. Steven Rainwater

In March 2011 the Communication Working Group tried to make the OSMF accessible to more people by posting in more languages. As a test we added German and French to the OSMF Blog. We’re still working on improving this by making each article available. But this experiment is already a success based on the feedback that we are getting from you.

It has been successful because of the volunteers who add the translations. Thanks go to Daniel Begin and Michael Schulze for helping us reach out to more mappers in French and German.

Shortly we’ll add Russian translations as well thanks to Eugene Usvitsky. Our web statistics tell us that Russian speakers are the next-most-frequent visitors to the OSMF site. The OSMF wants to reach out in other languages as well. Would you like to help? The workload is irregular and you can work from home. 🙂 If you are interested, contact the Communication Working Group at

We will consider adding translations to the site for any language except perhaps Klingon; we’re undecided on Klingon. If you can help with some of the languages that are more-frequently used in OpenStreetMap, please let us know.

If you would like to test us out first, and see how you like working with the Working Groups on a smaller, temporary project, the License Working Group has a small translation project that you can help with right now. Contact if you would like to help with Czech, Chinese, Swedish, Finnish, Japanese, Hungarian, Romanian, Norwegian, Slovakian, Greek, Korean, Turkish or Croatian.

Klingon photo by R. Steven Rainwater on Flickr is licensed CC-By-SA

Improving OpenStreetMap reliability and performance

macro photo of pound coins

OpenStreetMap is growing fast. We’ve recently welcomed our 500,000th signed up user, and we’ve logged our 10.000.000 th update to the map. Over the next few weeks we’re running a fund-raising drive while we invest in server infrastructure to improve reliability and performance of OpenStreetMap. If you’d like to support the project in this way, or you know anybody else who would like to give OSMers an early Christmas present, visit our fund raising site:

You have the option to include your name on the donors list. We’re aiming to raise £15,000 (~ 23,000 U.S. dollars). Let’s see how quickly we hit the target!

We wanted to run another fund raising drive, because last time we had a big one was back in 2009 (old blog post) and we were blown away by how quickly we raised the target amount. It seemed as though people were looking for an outlet for their generosity and goodwill towards the project. Since we’re planning to buy a new server, now seems like a good time to do it again.

The Operations Working Group, which has the important role of keeping core OSM services running smoothly, plans to invest in a new server. This will provide us with a database replica. This improvement is at the very core of the OpenStreetMap infrastructure, giving services greater resilience. It means we’ll bounce back quicker and easier in the event of a hardware failure. In time the new server will also bring about some performance improvements. We have a wiki page with more technical details and plans for the new hardware.

We hope you’ll agree that, although these improvements are very much behind-the-scenes, they are important. Please give generously to help make them happen!

Photo credit: Pound coins by William Warby CC-By-SA

The next OpenStreetMap conference

We’ve had 5 great State of the Map conferences. Manchester, Limerick, Amsterdam, Girona and Denver. Big question is: where are we going to be in 2012?

We would like to have your help with finding a great venue for the largest annual OpenStreetMap conference.

Would you like to have the 2012 edition of State of the Map in your city? Submit your proposal on our Call for Venues page on the wiki. More details about criteria and the information we would like to have from you can also be found at that wiki page.

We hope to announce our 2012 venue in the beginning of the new year.

Half A Million And Counting

We reached 500,000 registered OpenStreetMap users last night. Yes. That’s an army of half a million people who can edit OpenStreetMap!

This project is all about mass collaboration. Thousands of people coming together on the internet to build something great: a free map of the world. If you’d like to join these ranks, head to and hit the sign up link in the top right hand corner. We’d love to have you!

When you have an account on you can edit and add to the map. This is what it’s all about. We need lots of people, not just to join, but to progress on to the next step where the fun really starts. Zoom in on your neighbourhood and move across to the edit tab, to enter the map editing interface. If you didn’t already try this (we know there’s lots of you), give it a go today! Contact the community if you have any questions or problems. Let us know what’s holding you back. In recent months we’ve made great strides in making it easier to edit the map, with a stream of innovations from developers of the editors, and initiatives to create new documentation. But there’s plenty more work to do on this, so that OpenStreetMap can reach a million users, and (more importantly) so that all these users will have a go at editing!

Weekly OSM Summary #31

November 14th, 2011 – November 28th, 2011

A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap (OSM) world.

  • The OSM Foundation is planning the final steps to switch to the new license. Read the full blog post here. Also, the Licensing Working Group (LWG) announced some information about the database re-build here.
  • The website had a minor update. You will find two new selections in the layer switcher in the upper right corner. The Transport Map by Andy Allan and the Open.Mapquest map.
  • The German OpenStreetMap community has a new website too. You can find a blog post about the new layout and design here.
  • Some important information from our Humanitarian OSM Team (HOT). All members need to confirm their membership. Read the full text here. Further the HOT Team is asking for help for their Samoa simulation.
  • First results of the new Engineering Working Group (EWG) can be found here.
  • More information about the past Hackweekend in London can be found here.
  • The Portugal community turned in a proposal to host the upcoming SOTM 2012. Read it here.
  • Pascal conducted a new analysis of the OSM Inspector routing view.
  • In preparation for Christmas: A XMAS Map.
  • “The Brave Mappers Project – The story of OpenStreetMap in Amsterdam in pretty shapes and colors” by Martijn.
  • Peter developed the new “OSM History Renderer” tool. It creates your own OSM history animation. Find his project and an example for Karlsruhe (Germany) at github.
  • Two employees of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation created a more US style tileset. You will find the github URL and the map URL here.
  • ITO World created a new US road fatality map using OSM as a basemap.
  • With World Airport Codes the next website changing to OSM has been introduced. Read more about the change here.
  • Osm2pgsql is used for example to create a database for rendering OSM data. The latest version of this tool has several updates. It would be great to gather some benchmarks now.
  • Jochen created a plug-in for QGIS that allows the user to use the JOSM remote control feature.
  • The Overpass API has now a mirror in Russia. What is the Overpass API and what can you do with it?

Did we miss something? You can contact us via

Authors: Pascal & Dennis – (thx @ “Wochennotiz”)

New ways to see OpenStreetMap data

Two new tile sets are now featured on the site. The
Transport Layer and the MapQuest Open layer both use the same Hot
Fresh OpenStreetmap data that we all know and love. Each tile set
presents that data in a different way, for a different audience by
making careful choices about how to render OpenStreetMap data.

The Transport layer, courtesy of Andy Allan shows public
transportation infrastructure like subways and bus routes and train


The MapQuest Open layer, courtesy of MapQuest shows highway shields and toll


Classroom OpenStreetMap workshop

OpenStreetMap contributor Ilya Zverez reports on recent OSM workshops
in Russian classrooms.

Recently there were three mapping lessons in small towns of Perm
region, Russia. It went very well, from collecting data to drawing
maps in Potlatch. At the last meeting they even tried to send a
weather baloon with a camera (but photos were no good because of
strong wind). Here is project page, in Russian, but google-translated:…
Photos and reports are in the wiki, also in Russian. One of major TV
channels covered it:

OpenStreetMap used by TripAdvisor

OpenStreetMap contributor Harry Wood tells us
about a new application.

TripAdvisor have launched a set of free android apps providing city
guides for 20 popular world cities, and for the maps they’ve used

Each of the following cities has a dedicated app on the android marketplace: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin,
Boston, Chicago, Florence, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Las Vegas, London,
Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando, Paris, Rome, San Francisco,
Sydney, Tokyo, and Washington D.C., and each one comes with
OpenStreetMap in a nicely themed green colour scheme.

TripaAvisor Adroid app showing OpenStreetMap is one of the
largest travel websites on the web. You may know them for their hotel
and restaurant listings with user reviews. These are all available
within the app, and overlaid on the maps (although it should be noted
that they’re not using OSM for the locations of these things, and in
places it looks like they could use a bit of iterative wiki-style
improvement to their accuracy!) but we’re delighted to see them
taking OpenStreetMap data and rendering it in their own style. The
maps are also available offline, allowing travellers to avoid data
roaming fees.

Weekly OSM Summary #30

October 31th, 2011 – November 14th, 2011

A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap (OSM) world.

Did we miss something? You can contact us via

Authors: Pascal & Dennis – (thx @ “Wochennotiz”)

Thanks to the 2012 OpenStreetMap Foundation Board. This is going to be the year.

Last weekend in Seattle, the OSM Foundation Board met “face-to-face”. We get together because no matter how much you try otherwise, there’s way more done in person in a couple intensive days. It cost about 4 or 5k USD this time, and it’s worth the cost. But, I think we’ve always done a terrible job explaining what happens at the Board meetings, and a middling job following up, and those two things are totally related.

I want this meeting to be different. It must be different. This is my fifth year on the Board and final year on the Board (I was elected again this year, but will stand down at the next AGM), and to me, and the entire Board, this is a crucial year for OSM. The face-to-face was the most productive yet, and the most difficult yet. I’m very satisfied. In year’s past, the minutes get published, and various announcements go out through working groups, and that will happen.  But it’s insufficient, maybe distilling too far the atmosphere and the messiness of these get togethers.

The Stage

Steve is based in Redmond, and expecting a child any day, so he offered to host and avoid travel. I wasn’t far, relatively, in Chicago. The rest of the Board (excepting RichardF who couldn’t make it) flew in from Europe. I found a cabin near a lake on airbnb, quiet, cosy, and cheap. Henk hired a car, and drove everyone around. We had a meetup Friday night, made some burritos and played Kinect at Steve and Hurricane’s place (and tried to forget we watched Crank 2), and enjoyed the Seattle sunshine (no joke). Sunday Hurricane gave us horse riding lessons!

A regular vacation! Except for the part where we spent 18 hours of our weekend discussing/arguing about OSM in windowless meeting rooms at Microsoft (which we very much appreciate btw!). And the rest of the weekend continuing to talk about it, or even dream about it. Being on the Board is a sacrifice of time, because we all feel deeply responsible to the project and our position.


The Board meeting proper started with presentations by Steve and Oliver. Steve hit many of the same themes from his SOTM and SOTM-EU talks, except he left out all the stuff about how awesome OSM is doing. We looked and discussed several graphs of recent statistics. OSM’s growth to date has been beyond imagination, but there’s no shortage of projects that changed the world and then met reality, hard. Looking at some of these, the factors in decline included insular community, lack of direction, and no innovation. That’s what we have to avoid.

Oliver made the point that “We are the Board! Shape the project!”. The Board, and the Foundation, needs to be a functional team, with clear goals and activities, all within the limited volunteer time we have to contribute. Fact at this point is, the Foundation doesn’t have clear objectives, beyond the mission to support but not control the OSM project. To meet goals, we can take action, we can guide and steer, we can spend money. At the end of workshop, there should be a target that guides all our activities towards achievement. Some of the slides were beyond funny management clip art (a guy looking forlorn into the mirror, facing reality) but the point was important. “We are the Board! Shape the project!”

At this point, I thought it would be useful to look at some of the management lessons and differences from HOT. While we are by no means perfect, I do feel there’s good alignment between the organizational side of HOT and the community, largely the same community as OSM. Contrast to OSMF, HOT is very focused in what it does, with clear guidance and priorities and steering. We aren’t afraid of spending money when it’s necessary. We value marketing by the organization (though could be better). There are clear technical needs, and we pay for it. There’s a key attention to the consumption side of map data collection, seeking strategic partnerships with other organizations. We’ve been selective and directive with responsibility, and when necessary, have taken it away. We try to be as transparent as possible, publishing very detailed board minutes.


We took Oliver’s point and started strategic planning.

OSMF Board meeting traditionally use a simple technique to come to consensus on a topic, whether it’s the agenda of the meeting, or in the case of Seattle, the objectives and activities of the OSMF this year. We brainstorm all our choices on the subject, write them on the whiteboard. Each person gets some number of votes, say 5, and distributes them among the topics. If topics can be grouped together, their count is added together. There’s discussion about the meaning of terms, sometimes a lot of discussion. Iteration to insure that we all have a common understanding. At the end, there’s a list of priorities. I always squirm in this process, because somehow I don’t believe it can work, but inevitably does a pretty good job, and if we need to override, we’re not strict about the methodology.

In less than an hour, we had these goals for 2012.

The World’s Most Used Map OSM is clearly the world’s most used open map, and most open map, and the best map. We want as many people of possible contributing and using OSM, and to do that, the experience of using OSM needs to improve, and where you use OSM can improve.

More Than Just Streets Do you know everything OSM is capable of mapping? Does your neighbor? Does your mayor? OSM is relatively well known in some circles, but it’s full potentially is still opaque to many. We want everyone to know what OSM is about.

Cultivating Leadership of Mappers. Shared Goals Between the Community & OSMF Mapping is driven by mappers, with a clear goal (make the map!), and there’s every reason that with clear goals and empowered members, the OSMF can act strongly. We now have clear goals, and clear expectations of what the management team and working groups can do and achieve, without much prescription on how things happen. This all frees the Board to provide the direction, and the management team and working groups to make the operational decisions.

Easier Contribution for Non-Geeks We debated how this differed from the Most Used Map, and decided it was important enough focus to stand on its own. Usability is certainly related, but more broadly, there’s much to do to improve all kinds of involvement in OSM.

And Again

The bulk of our time was spent translating these goals into actions, and this really was the most difficult part. Some things were quick to decide, like the final switch over to ODbL, but others became very drawn out and very detailed, like the process for site redesign. We touched on every standing issue, and aligned clearly to the goals. PR, list moderation, license change, the management team, working group budgets, SOTM, PR, site redesign, the articles of association.

We all agreed that short term action was needed on almost everything, with mind to how things should play out in the longer term. This meant drawing the above diagram, a lot, to remind ourselves of the urgency. We set big, audacious goals for all parts of the Foundation, with clear deadlines.

With so much on the table, we decided to stay in the room until we had decided on everything, which ended up meaning staying hours late, til there was little sunshine outside (or metaphorically sunshine inside the room) and tension rising. At one point, I was so fed up, I almost walked out, really seeing that if we didn’t resolve the issue at the Board, it wouldn’t resolve in the Foundation and the project, the goals wouldn’t be met, and decline was inevitable. And for me personally, that would mean a slow turning away from a project ingrained in almost everything I do in the world. We had to push through.

And we did. Despite looking over the brink, we had resolve. I felt tense, but knew I’d be happy with what we accomplished.

And after it was all done, we had some beers. The next day we rode horses. Group hug.

Thanks to the 2012 Board. This is going to be the year.

And thanks for Oliver for the photos!

cross-posted from Brain Off