Overturemaps.org - big-businesses OSMF alternative

Kőszőnőm, Samu. This is a rather public, ostensibly more clear explanation of Overture from one of its principals (Marc Prioleau, Meta’s head of mapping). Although, it sounds to me like Overture’s goals have a great deal of overlap with OSM’s basic tenets like “Open map data changes the equation and provides a level playing field that democratizes mapping,” and it remains elusive what is different. Ownership and control, or something around there, I would assume. It’s still fuzzy to me.

This (Overture’s development ahead) continues to unfold…


In the mean time it seems the ED has been announced: Marc Prioleau, formerly with Facebook and Facebooks representative on the OSMF advisory board (his career is intertwined with OSM in a couple ways).


1.) Video interview:

The Overture Maps Foundation: Marc Prioleau - MBM#43 ( 1hour:38min ; 16 May 2023 )
“Marc Prioleau is the newly appointed Executive Director to the Overture Maps Foundation (at the date this episode comes out). Overture was originally announced in December 2022, founded by Amazon, Meta, Microsoft and TomTom as part of the Linux Foundation, with the goal of providing a open map data. That sounds a lot like what OpenStreetMap set out to achieve… so why start something new? Marc has some answers to that question, and it isn’t his first time thinking about the future of mapping”

2.) PressRelease: May 16, 2023, 09:00 ET
“Overture Maps Foundation Names Marc Prioleau as Executive Director”

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A machine-generated summary of the video-interview:

00:00:00 - 01:00:00

The Overture Maps Foundation aims to build open map data for people who provide mapping services for a variety of applications. Led by Executive Director Marc Prioleau, the foundation has support from big tech names like Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, and TomTom and seeks to develop an open-source, high-definition mapping standard for the aviation industry. Overture aims to build the best open map through collaboration with a large community, including a range of company sizes, government entities, and non-profits that can use and feed back into the map to make it better. The foundation differentiates itself from the OpenStreetMap project by focusing on map services for customers rather than building a community of local mappers. Prioleau stresses the importance of having a common map that provides a shared spatial framework for different wearables and augmented reality devices and highlights the safety aspect of having a common map for autonomous vehicles.

More details
  • 00:00:00 In this section, the podcast host introduces Mark Prioleau, the newly appointed Executive Director of the Overture Maps Foundation, which aims to build open map data for people who provide mapping services for a variety of applications. The Foundation is different from the OpenStreetMap project, as it has support from big tech names and is part of the Linux Foundation. Mark Prioleau, coming from a background in mapping, is not a technologist but has extensive experience working around technology and understanding its implications and directions. He identifies himself with the mapping world and has varied interests beyond that. The podcast host also thanks the episode’s sponsor, OpenCage, for providing an affordable, reliable geocoding API built on open data sources, and a generous free trial.
  • 00:05:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses his career in business development, explaining that through partnerships, companies can work together creatively to find places where they can exchange value for interesting deals. Prioleau said business development is a title that means different things in different companies. He also shared how he went from majoring in chemistry to working in different technology companies, including Trimble Navigation, where he worked in a group selling expensive GPS receivers. At the time, the GPS technology had limitations, and signal acquisition could take as long as minutes to complete, but they found markets that could work with those limitations while pointing towards technology advancements.
  • 00:10:00 In this section, the speaker reflects on the early days of GPS and how the ability to locate oneself anywhere on Earth was a remarkable achievement at the time. He believes that understanding the origins of things helps people appreciate what they have today. He cites the example of a startup commissioning an artist to imagine the different ways technology could evolve to enable ubiquitous location services, which eventually became a reality with GPS in phones, cars, games, and more. The speaker also talks about the Overture Maps Foundation, a new initiative that brings together giants like Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, and TomTom to develop an open-source, high-definition mapping standard for the aviation industry. As the executive director of the foundation, the speaker is tasked with getting companies to collaborate and contribute to the project, which he believes can transform the way air travel is experienced around the world.
  • 00:15:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau explains the goals and objectives of the Overture Maps Foundation, which was established in December 2020. The foundation is focused on building open map data for customers who provide map services to a variety of applications. The core tenants of the foundation are to ensure that the data is open, can meet the demands of applications, and can best be done in a coordinated and collaborative effort. Overture does not aim to build a community of mappers like OpenStreetMap but instead focuses on serving a different customer base by offering map services. The foundation aims to build the best open map through a large community, including a range of company sizes, government entities, and non-profits that can use and feed back into the map to make it better.
  • 00:20:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses the importance of data and the various sources used by Overture Maps Foundation. These sources include open government data, data generated through sensors and AI, as well as OpenStreetMap data. He explains that Overture Maps Foundation aims to provide an organized schema of high-quality data that can be used by people building map applications and allow other data sources to be added on top of that reference system. Prioleau then notes that while OpenStreetMap also aims to build a map, the focus of the community has been on the mapping process and building a large community, which is distinct from Overture Maps Foundation’s mission. He explains the difference between the artist and the merchant perspectives, where the former is all about the craft and the process of doing, while the latter values the outcome and the tools used to achieve it.
  • 00:25:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses the philosophical divide that exists in OpenStreetMap between building a community of local mappers and building a map through the best means possible. He believes that Overture separates these two ambitions and recognizes what OpenStreetMap does very well. He adds that Overture will lean heavily on OpenStreetMap as it is the best source of amazing map data that will complement the Overture maps. Prioleau also mentions the example of the earthquakes in Turkey where the OpenStreetMap community mobilized to quickly build a much better map of the affected regions, which Overture will not be able to match anytime soon. He recognizes that corporate entities like Meta and Apple have made significant edits in OpenStreetMap and acknowledges that certain types of edits work extremely well in OpenStreetMap, such as finding things that have changed and making edits on them. Additionally, bulk edits, known as imports in OpenStreetMap, are another category where Prioleau cites the example of 33,000 building footprints in Redlands, imported to OpenStreetMap by Overture in one go using specific methods and technologies.
  • 00:30:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses the changing needs of map services in the last decade and the significance of having up-to-date map data. He explains how the level of detail in maps has increased tremendously over the years with the development of autonomous vehicles and how the timeliness of map data has become critical to delivering accurate navigation instructions. Prioleau cites the example of a closed exit due to tree cutting and how the navigation system should have updated its data to prevent misleading users. He then talks about the paradigm shift in map building if Tesla were to map everything every day and how it can change the entire concept of creating a map. Finally, Prioleau shares his insights into the changing needs of mapping and how it will impact future map building.
  • 00:35:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the increasing customer expectations of mapping services. As applications get better, customers expect more accuracy, features, and real-time updates. The speaker cites the example of a navigation app’s estimated time of arrival, which was not a precise metric a decade ago but is now expected to be, down to the minute. The quality control of the flow of data is crucial for better performance, especially for precision and timeliness. The speaker mentions the trends of increased attribution and a more 3D map. Additionally, the digital map must be updated frequently to provide an excellent user experience. The speaker concludes by discussing how the use of real-time feedback from users can lead to more accurate and up-to-date maps.
  • 00:40:00 In this section, the interviewee and interviewer discuss what the Overture Maps Foundation will provide, as it is just data that constantly changes. The guest notes that customers of Overture are map service providers, and so Overture should provide data in a way that meets the needs of those customers. At present, Overture is about five months old, and so many invisible things have been developed, such as data schema and reference systems. In the future, Overture will need to meet the continuously updating map demand by moving towards a more continuous process. As the market tells us harshly if services aren’t meeting its needs, Overture needs to be attuned to the industry’s needs and evolve accordingly. The guest notes that Overture has the potential to collect the widest range of inputs and offer amazing processing technology to satisfy customers’ needs, such as Meta’s computer vision technology, which can turn pictures into map data.
  • 00:45:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses the value of Overture’s segmentation tool and how it can drastically increase the reach of a technology by lowering the amount of friction required to use it. For example, someone used the tool to take aerial imagery of cities and pulled out crosswalks very quickly. He believes that the ability to use a widely available tool to do any segmentation very quickly is revolutionary and will change the industry significantly in the next three years. Marc also explains the reason behind going down the foundation route instead of a more closed still partnership between companies - to ensure that the best map is created with the widest range of inputs and sensors processed through advanced technology. Additionally, the foundation’s approach emphasizes the usage of maps, as people move towards augmented reality and autonomous vehicle applications, and they become a part of the map.
  • 00:50:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses the importance of having a common map that provides a shared spatial framework for different wearables and augmented reality devices. He emphasizes that the map needs to be open and shared so that all companies can participate in its development, and people can interact with the same digital assets regardless of the device they are using. Furthermore, he stresses the importance of having a stable reference system that allows companies to append their proprietary data onto the map in a meaningful way. Prioleau also highlights the safety aspect of having a common map for autonomous vehicles, where collaboration can lead to building the safest map possible.
  • 00:55:00 In this section of the video, Marc Prioleau discusses the approach that the Overture Maps Foundation took when launching its platform. The foundation’s aim was to create the idea and launch it with a small number of companies that already had significant investments in open data. Prioleau explains why Google and Apple were not part of the initial launch, as the foundation didn’t want to spend the next two years talking about how they were going to do it if too many people were involved. Furthermore, he discusses the reasons Google Maps and Apple Maps make money and how they compete with other mapping companies.

01:00:00 - 01:35:00

Marc Prioleau, in his interview with MBM, discusses the Overture Maps Foundation and its initiatives. He highlights the challenges in the mapping industry, including the difficulty in updating map data, and how Overture Maps Foundation aims to create a jointly held open map that everyone can use. Prioleau also talks about the organization’s decision-making process, membership levels, and the benefits of being part of the Linux Foundation project. He emphasizes the importance of growth and contributions from members in the foundation’s success. While engineering is a core part of the project, the foundation focuses on being nimble and allowing for a variety of inputs in technology and data. Prioleau also discusses the challenges of attaching licenses to data layers and building a productive community. Finally, he recommends the book “Never Lost Again” and suggests supporting the podcast on Patreon.

More details
  • 01:00:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses how OpenStreetMap changed the mapping market by making it easier for people to contribute to open map data. He notes that while mapping software is challenging, the biggest barrier to entry is the data itself due to the enormous resources and people it requires to update. Prioleau believes that building a jointly held open map that everyone can use would change the market and create a different value proposition. He compares this to the concept of training a monkey to juggle flaming batons, where the key is to solve the hardest problem first, which in this case, is the map data. Prioleau also discusses Overture Maps Foundation’s decision-making process and highlights the benefits of being part of the Linux Foundation project.
  • 01:05:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau explains the decision-making process and membership levels of the Overture Maps Foundation. The steering committee sets priorities and budgets for the project as a whole, while the working group level is focused on building the maps and influenced by good ideas and a consensus decision-making process. The general level of membership has the power to control the working group’s direction and there is a voting mechanism. The contributor level allows people to join and contribute their ideas or data, even if it’s not immediately open-source. The Linux Foundation provides best practices for open-source communities, an independent organization, and the infrastructure needed for success. Marc’s main role is to provide a link between the execution and strategy of the project.
  • 01:10:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses the importance of growth for Overture Maps Foundation, which is an outcome of doing the right things. He emphasizes that the more people join the community, the better the data becomes, and talks about what people can bring to the community to make it better. Currently, Overture has one full-time employee, and contributions from members play a crucial role in the project’s success. The foundation also benefits from legal support, program management, marketing support, and other services provided by the Linux Foundation. Marc mentions that engineering is a core part of the project, and they have engineers from different companies working together to develop real work. There is a possibility of hiring engineers in the organization, but Marc believes that the member’s contribution is essential to collaborative open-source projects’ success.
  • 01:15:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses the Overture Maps Foundation’s potential value and contributions to the mapping project. While the organization can provide direction and aid in resolving issues, transferring all engineering work to the foundation could lead to a less rich project. Thus, the foundation aims to focus on being nimble and allowing for a variety of inputs in terms of technology and data. The foundation is considering three categories of data: primary data that goes directly into maps, open data that can be processed to create map data, and limited-use data that might be made available for specific cases. The legal aspect of licensing is also discussed, and the foundation prefers a permissive open-source license known as cdla permissive 2.0. However, the complexity of licensing is not in understanding it but rather ensuring that the data retains the correct license as it goes in and out of maps.
  • 01:20:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses the challenge of attaching licenses to various layers of data in a coherent manner and mentions that it is actually two problems in one: the data itself and the licensing around it. Prioleau explains that different licenses have different implications and mentions how a real challenge in open source is to build a community that’s productive enough that people see the value of contributing to it. He compares this to the conversation happening in the earth observation field, where there is a move towards recognizing that the value of images is their timeliness, and opening up archival imagery is becoming increasingly important, as recency of data is becoming more and more available as well. Finally, Prioleau talks about how a lot of the groundwork for the Overture Maps Foundation has been on developing a schema and a reference entity system to ensure that the data is understood and can be documented and added to, which is important for their target customer.
  • 01:25:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses the direction of schema building for the Overture Maps Foundation. He anticipates feedback from customers and expects schema to evolve over time. The foundation’s focus on data-building mainly encompasses transportation, places data, 3D, and administrative boundaries, depending on the interests of the members. Prioleau believes the next exciting phase is to build data by leveraging the community’s inputs and processes. To build for future markets, Prioleau thinks the foundation should lean into upcoming technologies. Finally, he recommends the book “Never Lost Again” by Bill Killday, which tells the story of Google Maps and its societal impact.
  • 01:30:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses how he finds podcasts to be an effective way to gain different perspectives and ideas, including podcasts related to maps and politics. He recommends “The Overture Maps Foundation” as an interesting project that requires dedication to produce a high-quality product. Additionally, Marc reflects on how far the mapping industry has come since he began working in GPS in 1995, noting the slow and steady progress over time, while emphasizing the importance of predicting what will happen rather than when it will happen.
  • 01:35:00 In this section, Marc Prioleau discusses the challenges in predicting advancements in technology, citing the example of autonomous vehicles where people thought they would be here in two years when they said that five years ago. He highlights how many factors need to come together for a technology to become integral to everything we are doing, and it’s not just one technology getting better. Prioleau states that companies benefit from impatience and pushing these advancements forward. Prioleau also expresses his gratitude for the work the interviewer does in conducting interviews that help him learn about the guests. He encourages listeners to support the podcast on Patreon to help the interviewer produce more high-quality episodes.

in the news:

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Another interview linked from the Dutch thread:


So, this is the first public repository on the OvertureMaps organization.

here the direct link.

Edit: the repo was created 2 weeks ago.

The link to the GitHub repo is dead and I can’t find it through Google search. So maybe they took it down or something?

Ok, I think the initial repository was just a test, the real one is live now (likely not just formaly announced).

Live page:


From the blog: “Overture Maps Previews Data Schema and Reference System”



What if the company has proprietary (better) road segment data extracted from their sensor network that they do not / cannot share?

“However, by sharing just the new road segment geometries with Overture (not the entire proprietary traffic feed), Overture will add it to the Overture corpus and generate GERS IDs accordingly. The Overture road network will be improved and 100% of the company’s data feed can become GERS-enabled.”

Would those “improvements” then be fed back into e.g. OSM?

The OSM community has a basic quality expectation, but if I understand correctly, there are legal possibilities for this, in my opinion.


  • [overture faq] “Overture data will be available for use by the OpenStreetMap community under compatible open data licenses. Overture members are encouraged to contribute to OSM directly.”

I assume that would require citing them as the source for the contribution, which seems like a good avenue to potentially provide them with cheap advertising and a way to easily siphon off users. If that’s the case it probably won’t be as beneficial to OpenStreetMap as it might seem at first glance. Especially in the long arch of time where 5 or 10 years from now there will likely be hundred of thousands, if not millions, of references to Overture Maps associated with objects. Rather parasitic if you ask me. Although again that’s contingent on users citing them as the source for the contribution, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t.

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I thing this question should be more framed as “Could” not “Would”. I know of no indication that the OMF intends to actively contribute to OSM.

In practical terms as an OSM contributor you would probably want to use any such (currently purely hypothetical) data more for QA in any case.


No need to worry about that as they don’t need it - just look at the names associated with Overture!


46 posts were merged into an existing topic: Overture Maps first dataset release

Everybody realizes, of course, that Overturemaps.org is watching every word of this discussion. “They” and “their AI” are parsing every word as hard as it/they can.

I suppose at some point we have to be real and say “and after that, lawyers sort it out.” Maybe not.

This is a “grand conflict” being deliberately constructed, if nothing else. OSM, we do well to deflect against too much time-wasting by deliberate time-wasters (like Overture?). A long-term strategy might be to think (hard) about how much “Overture is deliberately trying to spoof us” might be true. A mild effort on offense can become (has become?) a serious effort on defense (by OSM).

The trick for OSM/us is to “hose off into a bucket of noise” what is exactly that, versus how much is an actual threat. Tricky balancing point, that.

Overture is “put in a box.” OSM/we continue to draw boundaries around it (versus vice versa). Eyes open. Yet, “you are only this small” (and our fingers are seen to be squeezing a very small distance).

I don’t want to dismiss a real threat, if it is one. But, hey. If noise isn’t noise, and we call it out as noise…


To ask a delicate question: is there anything in the OSM ecosystem or community that the promoters of Overture find offputting? Is any of that issues that we could do better on for our own sake?

I’m purely speculating here: I believe Overture finds OSM “off-putting” because Overture cannot own / control OSM as it wishes. It seems to bother Overture greatly that a successful crowdsourced project full of altruism, damn good data, a real (kind, helpful-to-others…) community-ecosystem which continues to grow over years (decades, really) into not only some of the best mapping on Earth, but a SYSTEM of mapping, all based on volunteers giving of ourselves and our local (and wider) geographical knowledge. That rocks.

I’m not saying that with aggressive lawyers and/or billions of dollars, “something else” can’t “compete” with OSM — it probably could or can — but Alphabet’s Google Maps, while it might be considered “a competitor” to OSM, still has many shortcomings compared to much of OSM. Same for TomTom and Apple and Bing and others that are out there. I don’t want to “rest on our laurels” and smugly insist “we’re the best damn map on the planet and nobody can touch us…” because with that sort of hubris, we are easily dislodged from our august and likely premier position. OSM must always be looking in our rear-view mirror at “the approaching competition.”

Perhaps one of the things that OSM might “do better for our own sake” is to better articulate “what our place is in the world of mapping platforms.” I’d like to say we are one of the premier mapping platforms, with some of the best data, constantly improving (as are our tools, community, documentation, education, outreach, ability to help newer users with guidance and improvement…). But if that’s not true, and “somebody is eating our lunch,” well, let’s roll up our sleeves and get busy being better.

It can be difficult to talk about such things, as such “quantification” (such as saying “we’re the best map”) isn’t easy to do and especially because doing so can be highly subjective. But in the cold light of day, OSM is able to look at something like Overture’s recent .alpha-0 release and say “kinda junky, with old, noisy data from the trash heaps of commercial social media, redolent with the low quality one might predict comes from such an endeavor.” I don’t think that’s too far off the mark, but of course, it behooves us to keep our eyes wide open (towards additional, future releases).

The first pickle out of the barrel often is funky. What matters (SHOULD matter to OSM) is how much better Overture gets in the future.


The fallacy here is assuming that quality has anything to do with success, it is really just marketing driven. Facebook/OMF has already, essentially overnight, occupied the “open map data” mindshare, it doesn’t really matter if the data is usable or not.