State of the Map 2022 – Thanks, what you can still do, statistics and upcoming regional SotMs

The 15th State of the Map conference took place in Firenze, Italy and online from 19th-21st August. This would not have been possible without the work of the organising team and other volunteers, speakers, attendees in person and online, people who submitted posters or talks, translators, the contributors to the project and the sponsors.

Self-submitted photos of some State of the Map 2022 attendees. Compilation by volunteers of the State of the Map working group.
State of the Map 2022 attendees in Florence, Italy. Photo by Carlo Prevosti, CC BY-SA 4.0

You can read about some of the attendees’ experiences (in various languages) or post your own if you attended either in Florence or online. Feel free to add the link of your entry to the above OSM wiki page (requires a different log-in than your log-in to www.osm.org).

Some videos are already available on media.ccc.de and on the State of the Map YouTube channel (playlist here). The recordings are currently being processed by volunteers. You might also be interested in the Geomob podcast, the (at the time) live blog by Ilya and Gregory and in Gregory’s videos.

If you saw photographs of the catering hall, you might have noticed the posters on the walls. But what were they about..? You can check the interesting variety of posters here – which is fortunate even for Florence attendees, as in some cases the posters were not easy to reach due to the placement of the tables 🙂

As in the previous years, this year we had a lot of academics visiting the conference. If you are interested in the academic track, the proceedings are published on Zenodo.

Ticket statistics

If you like statistics, you can find some below 🙂 Please note that these are related to the tickets purchased/obtained and do not correlate 100% with the stats of attendees (as a few people had tickets but did not manage to attend the conference). Additionally, providing information such as country or organisation/company (if applicable) was optional.

  • 195 people with online (Venueless) tickets only.
  • 406 Florence ticket holders (with online ticket as well).

The online (Venueless) ticket was needed only if you wanted to interact with other online attendees. Otherwise, you could see the talks streamed for free – and the recordings are currently being added online (more information below).

Of the 406 Florence tickets obtained, there were

  • 218 for people associated with organisations/companies (profit, non-profit, local OSM organisations – as self-declared during registration), including
    * 74 for people from State of the Map 2022 sponsoring organisations.
    * >= 34 for people associated with HOT (most self-declared during registration).
  • >= 58 for people from Universities/research institutes (most self-declared during registration).
  • 30 for State of the Map 2022 volunteers.
  • 20 for OSM Foundation travel grantees.

Regional and country statistics of Florence ticket holders

136 people (33% of the Florence ticket holders) provided a country during online registration.

Regional statistics for the 33% of Florence ticket holders:

  • 90 Europe
  • 19 America
  • 14 Asia
  • 11 Africa
  • 2 Oceania

The following countries had five or more ticket holders:

  • 26 Germany
  • 16 United States
  • 15 Italy
  • 11 Great Britain
  • 9 France
  • 7 Netherlands
  • 5 India
  • 5 Romania

People from the following countries also had tickets and mentioned their country during online registration: Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czechia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Malawi, Moldova, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Statistics of online-only ticket holders

Most online-only ticket holders did not provide much information during online registration. For example, none of the 195 online-only ticket holders provided their country.

Organisation
95 of the 195 online-only ticket holders provided an organisation during registration. Of these, 11 were associated with a university or research institute and 7 were from State of the Map 2022 sponsoring companies.

T-shirt preferences

Of the 406 Florence ticket holders,

  • 122 (30%) chose a lady t-shirt.
  • 284 (70%) chose a male t-shirt.

Visa support

We helped 64 people with supporting documents for their Visa applications. This number was increased compared to State of the Map 2019, where we received similar requests from just 19 persons. The increase was partly due to increased requests by YouthMappers and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT).

  • YouthMappers: ~20 Visa-related requests.
  • HOT: ~14 Visa-related requests.
  • OSMF travel grantees: ~ 11 Visa-related requests.

Please note that not all Visa applicants managed to get a Visa, and that some of the OSMF travel grantees were also connected to YouthMappers or HOT. There might be a blog post or diary entry in the near future dedicated just to the SotM 2022 travel grants provided by the OSM Foundation.

Upcoming regional State of the Map conferences

Was State of the Map 2022 too far for you to travel? One of the upcoming regional State of the Map conferences might be closer and at least one of them is also online. These regional conferences are organised by local communities and not by the OSM Foundation. The current information is:

  • State of the Map Nigeria 2022, 1-3 December 2022, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
  • State of the Map Japan 2022, 3 December 2022, Kakogawa Chamber of Commerce and Industry Centre, Japan.
  • State of the Map Asia 2022, 21-25 November 2022, Legazpi City, Philippines.
  • State of the Map Tanzania 2023, 20-22 January 2023, Dar es Salaam and online.
  • State of the Map Africa 2023, 6-8 December 2023, Yaounde, Cameroon.

…or you might be interested to organise a regional State of the Map event with your local OSM community. In this case please remember to submit the State of the Map quick licence form 🙂

Next international State of the Map

The decision about the host country of the next international State of the Map is pending. Watch this space.


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Do you want to translate this and other blogposts in another language..? Please send an email to communication@osmfoundation.org with subject: Helping with translations in [language]

The State of the Map conference is the annual, international conference of OpenStreetMap, organised by the OpenStreetMap Foundation. 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. The State of the Map Organising Committee is one of our volunteer Working Groups.

OpenStreetMap was founded in 2004 and is an 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, calculate routes, etc.  OpenStreetMap is increasingly used when one needs maps that can be very quickly, or easily, updated.

10 Years of ODbL

Ten years ago today we changed the license of OpenStreetMap’s data. For those who remember it, you’ll know it took a lot longer than a day. It was slow and painful process, but we published our first ODbL-licensed “planet dump” on 14th September 2012!

In the run up to that moment we spent several years working with the Open Data Commons organisation to create the Open Database License, reaching broad community agreement upon it, then seeking formal acceptance from every data contributor, and carefully redacting data where this acceptance was not received. All of these steps required vast effort from volunteers, culminating in the switch-over moment. In fact even after the big announcement (on this blog) it took a couple more days before we were able to publish the data ten years ago today!

In those ten years we’ve seen spectacular growth, not just in data and community, but also in users and uses of our data under ODbL. You can read more about the license change reasoning and process here, but if you’re interested in using OpenStreetMap data … download it. It’s free and open licensed!

Happy 18th Anniversary, OpenStreetMap :)

Cake for OpenStreetMap’s 18th anniversary, celebrated by OSM Bangladesh at BSMRSTU (Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University). Photo by Sawan Shariar, CC-BY-SA 4.0

This Sunday, 7th of August 2022,
we are celebrating 18 years of OpenStreetMap!

Celebrations started the previous week and will continue for one more week. So, how do you plan to celebrate? 🙂

Planning to organise an online or in-person event? Please add your event to the OSM wiki! If wiki editing isn’t your thing, email communication@osmfoundation.org with your event details and we’ll add it 🙂

Making a birthday cake? See previous examples of OSM cakes for inspiration. Don’t forget the attribution!

You could post why you love OpenStreetMap 🙂 Remember to use the hashtag #OpenStreetMap18 on social media.

Posting photos of celebrations? If your photos are accompanied with the text “CC-BY-SA 4.0” (or another open license), we can add them to the OSM wiki (or feel free to add them yourself! ~ register here).

Or you could post a photo of yourself holding a written message 🙂 

Planning an online party or mapathon?

You can use the BigBlueButton video server of the OpenStreetMap Foundation! To get a free account and your own video room, please signup.

  • You can use your video room even after the birthday, for any OSM-related event.
  • Community members in low-bandwidth environments may benefit from using BigBlueButton’s low-bandwidth settings.
  • Please add your event to the OSM wiki! If wiki editing isn’t your thing, email communication@osmfoundation.org with your event details and we’ll add it 🙂

Join us!

Observance of the anniversary of the creation of OpenStreetMap is held on or about the 9th of August, which is the anniversary of the registration of the OpenStreetMap.org domain name. The concept of OpenStreetMap predates the domain name registration, but that seems a suitable anniversary date 🙂

Happy celebrations everyone 🙂


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Do you want to translate this and other blogposts in another language..? Please send an email to communication@osmfoundation.org with subject: Helping with translations in [language]

OpenStreetMap was founded in 2004 and is an 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, calculate routes, etc.  OpenStreetMap is increasingly used when one needs maps that can be very quickly, or easily, updated.

How to Participate at SotM 2022

Are you attending State of the Map in person (in Italy) or online? Here are some ideas on how to actively participate/contribute to the conference in person or online!

1. Help out as a volunteer

Volunteers are the driving force of OSM and SotM conference. Would you like to help by volunteering to ensure the SotM is as smooth as possible? Here are the roles you can help with:

In-person Volunteers (Note: You must be physically present in Italy)

  • Conference setup (volunteers must be already at 18 August available)
  • teardown/clean up
  • registration/info desk
  • video/recording
  • video/cutting
  • technical assistants for the speakers
  • Session hosts (OSM knowledge is mandatory)

Online Volunteers

  • the info desk at Venueless
  • technical assistants for the BBB rooms

If you are interested in volunteering, please reach out to the SotM Working Group via sotm [at] openstreetmap [dot] org and sign up at https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/State_of_the_Map_2022/volunteers#Schedule

2. Submit a lightning talk

Share a 5-minute talk about your mapping initiatives/experiences in OpenStreetMap or about your local community activities to the global OpenStreetMap community! Sign up at https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/State_of_the_Map_2022/registration_lightning_talks

Deadline for submission is 12 August 2022 16 August 2022

3. For technique-oriented people, you can help as part of the video team!

Please reach out to the SotM Working Group via sotm [at] openstreetmap [dot] org

4. Be the SotM 2022 photographer(s)

The person(s) could generally take some photos in the name of SotM organization team and also should take the group photo. We kindly as ask the released photos have CC licence (*) so we can use them later in the SotM context.

(*) under an open license (CC-BY-SA 3.0 or later recommended or CC0)

5. Organize a self-organized session

Besides the main programme, we will offer space for self-organized sessions (or Birds of Feather / BoF). We have set up the OSM wiki page https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/State_of_the_Map_2022/self-organized_sessions, where you can sign up for a self-organized online session. For the on-site self-organized session, we will set up a whiteboard where you can reserve your timeslot and room at the conference venue. You can brainstorm for your session topic as early as now!

6. Check the SotM 2022 Programme schedule and plan which sessions you are attending

We have a variety of tracks (general, academic, workshops) and topics in our programme schedule https://2022.stateofthemap.org/programme/ so you can plan as early as now which talks/sessions you are attending as well as list your questions to the speaker(s)!

Did we miss anything? If you have participated in SotM conferences before, let us know how and share your experiences in the comment/reply!

SotM Organising Committee

Sign up for event updates and follow us @sotm!

Do you want to translate this and other blog posts into your language…? Please email communication@osmfoundation.org with the subject: Helping with translations in [your language]

The State of the Map conference is the annual, international conference of OpenStreetMap, organised by the OpenStreetMap Foundation. 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. The State of the Map Organising Committee is one of our volunteer Working Groups.

OpenStreetMap was founded in 2004 and is an 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, calculate routes, etc.  OpenStreetMap is increasingly used when one needs maps that can be very quickly, or easily, updated.

State of the Map 2023 – Call for Venues

The State of the Map working group is delighted to announce that the call for venues for 2023 is now open!

SotM Logo

State of the Map 2022 in Florence and online is approaching. We – the State of the Map (SotM) working group – are co-working with an awesome local team based in Italy. They found the venue. Checked the technical conditions for video and more. They ordered catering. The social event is planned. Next steps will be the managing of all volunteers in all roles and shifts. Not too easy 🙂

So we take some time and start thinking about State of the Map 2023

We are looking for a local team that wants to bring OpenStreetMap to their home town. Do you have any suitable locations in your city? Can it host 300 or 500 people? And .. this cannot be too expensive as SotM wants to stay affordable for the community. How is the catering managed? How easy can attendees and participants travel your city?

We can help you investigate and develop a suitable bid. Please contact us.

Or you can directly start your bid here:

https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/State_of_the_Map_2023/Call_for_venues

– Christine, SotM Working Group

Sign up for State of the Map updates and follow us @sotm!

Do you want to translate this and other blog posts into your language…? Please email communication@osmfoundation.org with the subject: Helping with translations in [your language]

The State of the Map conference is the annual, international conference of OpenStreetMap, organised by the OpenStreetMap Foundation. 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. The State of the Map Organising Committee is one of our volunteer Working Groups.

OpenStreetMap was founded in 2004 and is an 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, calculate routes, etc.  OpenStreetMap is increasingly used when one needs maps that can be very quickly, or easily, updated.

Call for Lightning Talks for State of the Map 2022

Photo by Ilyass SEDDOUG on Unsplash

Did you miss the deadline for the Call for participation for State of the Map 2022 but still want to get a chance to present your latest news and inventions around OpenStreetMap? Like previous years, we have reserved some slots for Lightning talks.

Lightning talks are quick 5-minute talks about any topic related to OpenStreetMap. Since SotM 2022 will be our first attempt at doing a hybrid conference, there are two options for holding a lightning talk:

  • In-person lightning talk in Firenze: These are traditional lightning talks held during one of the Lightning talk sessions at the conference. The registration for in-person lightning talks opens on 19 August when the State of the Map 2022 conference starts. You can register for a slot directly at the conference venue.
  • Pre-recorded lightning talk: Like in the two previous years, we offer the opportunity to submit a short video with a pre-recorded lightning talk. So if you don’t make it to Firenze, you can still participate with a lightning talk and present your topic to a wider audience.

Submission for pre-recorded lightning talks is now open. We are looking forward to your videos about any topic related to OpenStreetMap. The deadline to register and upload pre-recorded lightning talks is 12 August 2022 23:59:59 UTC

For more details and to register a pre-recorded lightning talk, please visit the OpenStreetMap Wiki

SotM Organising Committee

Sign up for event updates and follow us @sotm!

Do you want to translate this and other blog posts into your language…? Please email communication@osmfoundation.org with the subject: Helping with translations in [your language]

The State of the Map conference is the annual, international conference of OpenStreetMap, organised by the OpenStreetMap Foundation. 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. The State of the Map Organising Committee is one of our volunteer Working Groups.

OpenStreetMap was founded in 2004 and is an 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, calculate routes, etc.  OpenStreetMap is increasingly used when one needs maps that can be very quickly, or easily, updated.

Open Social Media at OpenStreetMap

The OSMF is pleased to financially support the en.osm.town OpenStreetMap Mastodon (or “Mapstodon”) service.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation has had a Free & Open Source Software Policy, and a committement to open communication channels. We exist to support the OpenStreetMap project.

Mastodon (aka “The Fediverse”) is a distributed social media network, based on the ActivityPub internet standard. It’s been featured on the New York Times, Vice and Wired. Think of Twitter, but based on open internet protocols, and allowing each community to define its own rules and build its own local community. The Fediverse has a reputation of being nicer and more respectiful than some of the more combative social media spaces.

The en.osm.town Mastodon Mapstodon instance was set up in July 2018 and has been steadily used by hundreds of OSMers over the years. Since the start, we’ve been using the excellent service from Masto.host to host this little corner of the fediverse. Some of the Mapstodon users have been spreading flyers at in person State of the Map conferences. Since this little community has been constantly active and helping each other, the OSMF decided to step up and help support this, and fund it directly.

Our own FOSS Policy Special Committee, and Communication Working Group had recommended this action.

The server was founded & administred by @amapanda@en.osm.town, with moderation from others. (Although Amanda is on the OSMF Board, this is separate from the Board). While the OSMF is funding this project, there will be no change to the moderation & administration of the server. The OSMF “supports, but does not control” OpenStreetMap.

If you want an easy way to mirror your posts to Mastodon, you can use a “Cross Poster” like the Mastodon-Twitter Crossposter or Moa.party. Many OpenStreetMap twitter accounts have set up cross posters, such as State of the Map, twitter @sotm is @sotm@en.osm.town, or the main OpenStreetMap Twitter account (@openstreetmap) is @openstreetmap@en.osm.town

So, sign up, get your pineapple, start tooting and boosting, and have fun! 🙂

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.

Mastodon logo used here under the GNU Affero General Public License

Call for Posters – SotM 2022

Viewing SotM 2018 posters. Photograph by Thomas Skowron, CC BY 2.0

Building on the previous State of the Map culture, we love to hear what has been done with OpenStreetMap data, but we also love to see more, SotM 2022 invites you to submit a poster today.

Your poster could show how well your home region is mapped; it could be a beautiful new style or map. It might focus on a community project or statistics; it might be a poster explaining and inviting people to OpenStreetMap. What is important is that we want it to be about OSM. We are also welcoming academic posters about research around OpenStreetMap data.

For inspiration, see SotM 2021 posters – https://2021.stateofthemap.org/posters/

Submission requirements

  • The poster should be for A0 size (841×1189 mm)  
  • The poster should be related to OpenStreetMap
  • The poster should be open, innovative, and transparent (no copying)
  • The poster must be your own work (individual, team, or institution)
  • The poster should be under an open license (CC-BY-SA 3.0 or later recommended or CC0 )
  • Maximum two entries per person, team, or institution

How to enter

  • Upload your poster via https://files.osmfoundation.org/s/xKeT6JRapjWBAgC
  • File size maximum 30-40 MB
  • Format: PDF
  • Please email sotm@openstreetmap.org with a description of your poster. For example, the background of the project or whatever you consider important to mention in the context of the poster – all that you would tell people if you show them your poster. We will publish this text together with the poster on the SotM website.
  • Please also mention the filename of the uploaded poster in your email, so that we can know which of the uploaded posters is yours.

Timeline

  • Deadline: 31 July 2022

The SotM team hopes to shortlist up to 20 posters that will be published on our website and some other SotM channels under CC BY SA 3.0 (or later)

SotM Organising Committee

Sign up for event updates and follow us @sotm!

Do you want to translate this and other blog posts into your language…? Please email communication@osmfoundation.org with the subject: Helping with translations in [your language]

The State of the Map conference is the annual, international conference of OpenStreetMap, organised by the OpenStreetMap Foundation. 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. The State of the Map Organising Committee is one of our volunteer Working Groups.

OpenStreetMap was founded in 2004 and is an 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, calculate routes, etc.  OpenStreetMap is increasingly used when one needs maps that can be very quickly, or easily, updated.

Announcing SotM 2022 Tickets and Program

Petar Milošević, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The State of the Map Working Group is happy to announce that tickets and program are now accessible through the SotM 2022 website at https://2022.stateofthemap.org/programme/

Tickets
OSM contributors and enthusiasts can now purchase tickets to attend the SotM conference in person or online, via https://2022.stateofthemap.org/tickets/.

There are two different ways you can attend this year:

Florence Ticket
This is the ticket to attend the conference in person in Florence. This ticket includes meals at the conference’s breaks and social events. If you are contributing to OpenStreetMap as a hobbyist, you may choose the discounted Community Ticket. Otherwise please get a Regular Ticket.

Venueless Ticket
This is the ticket to attend the conference remotely. This will give you access to the conference talks, and a chat to interact with other participants and allows you to send questions to speakers during Q&A sessions.

Early Bird Ticket
We are offering limited Early bird tickets at a discounted price until 1 July 2022 at 23:59 UTC. Regular ticket price will apply after.

Program (General Track)
We thank everyone who submitted their proposal to speak and organize a session at SotM 2022! We received a lot of amazing proposals and we are delighted to share the first version of our programme for the General Track, now accessible via https://2022.stateofthemap.org/programme/

We will provide continuous updates on the programme (including the Academic Track Programme).

Stay tuned for more updates about State of the Map 2022!
For any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at sotm [at] openstreetmap.org or join the Telegram channel to interact with other SotM conference-goers at https://t [dot] me/sotm2018

See you in Firenze and online!
The State of the Map Working Group

Do you want to translate this and other blog posts into your language…?  Please email communication@osmfoundation.org with the subject:  Helping with translations in [your language]

The State of the Map conference is the annual international conference of OpenStreetMap, organised by the OpenStreetMap Foundation. 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, and you can support it by becoming a member. The State of the Map Organising Committee is one of our volunteer Working Groups.

OpenStreetMap was founded in 2004 and is an 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 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, calculate routes etc.  OpenStreetMap is increasingly used when one needs maps that can be quickly or easily updated.

Towards an improved data model for OpenStreetMap

We all know and love the OpenStreetMap data model with its nodes, ways, and relations and the open tagging that has allowed OpenStreetMap to be so innovative. But the data model also shows its years and some improvements might be possible. There is a lot we don’t want to change. Especially the open tagging model has proven itself. We might think of some small improvements, but the core idea of allowing any number of key-value (string) tags has worked amazingly well.

But there are some pain points due to the way we organize our data. The biggest problem is that geographic location is only available to nodes and not higher-level geographic objects like ways and relations. This means that accessing the location of, say, a way always means we have to follow the references to the member nodes of that way. This makes processing OSM data extremely cumbersome and resource-intensive.
The other major pain point often talked about is the missing “area” datatype. We use work-arounds like closed ways and multipolygon relations, but that has always been problematic, because we can’t be sure that those objects are actually valid polygons.

The OSMF Engineering Working Group (EWG) has commissioned me (Jochen Topf) to write a study over the next months outlining the problems with our current data model, possible improvements and their impact on our systems. Any changes to our data model will, of course, have a large impact on our mappers, the data users, our software and on the whole OSM ecosystem. So the study will also suggest ways to move forward implementing those changes step by step.

You are welcome to contact me via email at jochen@topf.org if you want to discuss any of this. After my talk at the State of the Map in Milano in 2018 in which I already outlined some of the issues with the data model, I created the osm-data-model repository. Feel free to comment there. After my preliminary study I will expect there will be a more formal discussion process where we can decide as a community which (if any) changes we want and how we are going to implement them.

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.