Seeking comment on latest revision of OSMF Strategic Plan

The OSM Foundation Board has been at work to revise the OSMF Strategic Plan, and we’re now sharing a rewritten version for feedback from OSMF members and the OSM community. You can find the latest version here. Please provide input on this thread.


Previous rounds of feedback on earlier versions have been very helpful in shaping where we are now. You will see many changes in the document.

  • The plan starts with a summary of where we are now and where we need to go.

  • The plan retains the four clusters of work: technical infrastructure, community development, institutional development and financial governance.

  • Within these clusters, there are a set of goals, some mention of major actions, but more importantly indication of which part of OSMF is responsible for developing and seeing through actions.

  • Overall the plan is more concise and we think more understandable, providing a solid basis for seeing through OSMF’s work.

Next Steps:

We will review feedback on an ongoing basis for the next 3 weeks, followed by a discussion at the Board’s September mid-month chat. We will then make additional revisions based on feedback, with the ambition to adopt the plan at the September Board meeting on the 21st.

We look forward to hearing from you, and thanks to all who have participated in this process.



where can I find the old version and the old discussion?

Best regards


There have been discussion on many channels, such as OSMF Strategy 2023 and The osmf-talk May 2023 Archive by thread. There recent versions under discussion are at Strategic Plan 2023 Cycle - OpenStreetMap Foundation

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My feedback is that the new version is bland and uninspiring, and it’s also exactly right on the mark for where the foundation and project is today and needs to go in the near future. I think accurately captures the community expectation for foundation: keep the lights on and the core services running now and into the future. It also recognizes a few key challenges that we face. We have too few people who know how to maintain our critical infrastructure. Also, we place far too much burden on the OSMF board members individually to run the organization to the point where the workload exceeds what’s reasonable to ask volunteers to do.

OSM US hired an executive director years ago and supplements that with a staff which allows us to support the project in the United States with events, programs, and public outreach. It hasn’t in any way stifled innovation nor have the large donors that fund our organization caused any undue influence on the project in the US. I’m glad that the OSMF has come around to seeing the benefit of treating the project with the level of seriousness and professionalism that it deserves. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that a global, centralized geospatial database, and the applications and services that it powers, makes the world a better place, and what we do is important.

So thank you for this very boring strategic plan that’s exactly right on the mark.


You’re right, no strategic plan is designed to quicken the pulse. I do think being clear about goals, what’s needed to meet them, and the challenges faced is important, and gives us the stable structure to stand on to do the exciting stuff it points to.


3.4. Increase visibility and reputation of OSM
OSM is a globally critical project across all areas of human endeavor. The work the OSM community does deserve to be more widely seen and understood, and a broader understanding of the role of OSM and the OSMF will help increase activity in the project and lead to greater impact of open geospatial data. Effective communication requires planning, forethought and development of systems, and the identification of key messages, audiences, channels, and voice and messaging guidance.

If our project is going to continue to thrive I think increasing visibility is very important. Do we know what percentage of the general population is even aware of OSM? Based upon the conversations I have had with people I have encountered in everyday life, I am guessing it is very low. Even in the geospatial/GIS/geography industry it is probably not too high, and many of those industries really don’t understand OSM. Compare that to how many people are aware of commercial mapping companies and their products, or how many people are aware of other open projects, such as Wikipedia. The thing is that probably some significant percentage of the general population is using OSM, they just don’t realize it because it is part of an app (no one except us reads the fine print where OSM receives attribution in these apps). This lack of awareness hurts our project both in terms of attracting new mappers, as well as soliciting donations. While people are probably not going to be breaking down our door to give us money, if they are aware of our project and what it stands for, the “ask” is a lot easier as you don’t have to explain what the project is all about at that time. We need to aim to get several major stories per year about OSM into major media outlets in each major market. We should also feed the media a steady stream of press releases (perhaps we do this now, I just haven’t seen many that have led to a story). Almost anything can be a reason for a press release: reaching a milestone in terms of number of registered users, reaching a milestone as to the number of features, receiving a significant donation (provided the donor is ok with the publicity), completing a major import with the cooperation of city or county government, a milestone anniversary (2024 will be 20 years, right? - that is a BIG deal).


Please add paragraphs to your text, as it is your potentially good points get lost in the wall of text.


And that starts with Facebook and Mapbox actually displaying the on-map attribution we require.


My main (but small) beef with the document is literally the first sentence “The OpenStreetMap project is the largest collection of open geographic data in the world.” which would seem to be nonsense. provides, creates and many other verbs would be way better than is.


I think @tekim’s point is that even the best attribution is still fine print that most laypeople try their darnedest to ignore. That isn’t to excuse data consumers who give us short shrift, but at the same time we need to focus on more creative approaches to visibility than mere legalese.

Scoring points in the media via press release is a well-worn strategy, most recently employed by the Overture Maps Foundation to good effect. Making it work depends on having strong connections in the media industry (paid or otherwise). There are likely other ways to make a splash in the media too. Sadly, I suspect that placing a full-page spread in a newspaper would have less impact today than it did in 2004 when Firefox supporters got their names into The New York Times. But at least this strategy document can provide the Foundation with something to point to as it spends some time and effort on what we might otherwise dismiss as publicity stunts.


How about funding the development of an official mobile app aimed at both map users and map contributors?

I know there are plenty of unofficial open-source OSM mobile apps already available for both map users and map contributors. However, I believe that by leveraging the strong branding of “the OpenStreetMap official mobile app,” we could attract new users – who are eager to try yet another map apps alternative – and also engage new mappers along the way.


I would like to see more initiatives to secure additional satellite imagery sources.
Especially for Third World countries.

Since the loss of Maxar the alternatives became rare and the information unreliable.


First of all, this is not a sttategic plan but a sketch. And it contains nothing new. We have just slogans, the plan should be more detailed. Don’t you think?

Personally, I would like the OSMF to engage not only on infrastucture, but also on data and supporting new ways to incorporate them into resources and updates.

In a world where practically everyone has a cell phone, we ignore this platform completely. I know that our data is consumed by many applications on the mobile platform, but it would be worth taking a stand here.

No information on support for DWG, in terms of detection and anti-vandalism. Currently, in connection with the aggression of the Russians an Ukraine, this topic is particularly important.


Yes, nothing should come as a surprise here, and there is value in having a clear, understandable distillation of where the OSMF is heading. This is not the place for details … details are worked on by the groups indicated as responsible under each area.

Mobile has been mentioned several times, and I do think it’s worth highlighting in sections 1.6 or 1.7.

Regarding anti-vandalism and DWG, it’s a very fast moving situation and it has attention of the OSMF, the Board and many others right now. How exactly that should be formulated strategically is tbd. This plan is a living document, and expect as things become more clear it can be amended in the future.


I don’t see the current cyber attack as changing the strategic plan in any way, to the extent that it intends, as I noted, to:

I use the term “cyber attack” deliberately, because the world has changed and we should recognize that our most important responsibility is to protect the core asset – the data – that we’ve all worked so hard to build.

The fact that everyone is reacting while the attack is on-going is not particularly interesting. What I am worried about is that once the current attackers are done sending their message and/or the ongoing efforts to apply band-aids to our current security posture are momentarily successful, we will pat ourselves on the back and ignore future cyber threats. Cyber security is serious business – companies know this, governments strive to protect their national cyber assets, and war theorists consider cyber defense and attacks as a domain of war. It’s an entire field of study - universities grant degrees in cyber security.

We have a lot of smart people on the team that know a lot about IT, networks, the cloud, and all the cool whizbang technology that we use to make maps.

Do we have anyone on the team that has expertise in cyber security?

If the answer is “no,” I would suggest that the foundation, under it’s “keep the lights on” mandate, should consider addressing this deficiency, and not rely on the casual expertise of smart people that nonetheless have only a cursory background and experience in cyber asset protection.


I would suggest some modifications to point 2.2, where accessibility and inclusivity receive greater emphasis compared to demographic representation.

original (v1):

2.2. Increase community diversity

OSM has started out as a very technically oriented project. This is reflected in the composition of the community, where tech-savvy western contributors still make up the majority of the community. For OSM to accurately describe the world, we need to strive for a contributor base that accurately reflects the population. We strive for this with full knowledge the we are impacted by economical, cultural and political factors beyond our ability to fix. Contributing to OSM still has a high barrier of entry because of the steep learning curve for entering data as well as entering the community. This makes OSM less approachable in particular for people who are less technically oriented, have little spare time, insufficient access to high-end technology or do not speak English.

proposed (v2):


2.2. Promoting Community Diversity and Inclusivity

OSM originated as a project rooted in technical foundations, which is evident in the community composition with a dominance of technically proficient Western contributors. It’s crucial for us that the OSM community represents the diversity of the global population more broadly, not just geographically, but also culturally, linguistically, by age, and gender. We recognize the external economic, cultural, and political factors that influence our endeavors in this direction. We acknowledge the current challenges in contributing to OSM - such as the need for technical knowledge, little spare time, communication predominantly in English, and the complexities of joining the community. We are committed to addressing these barriers, ensuring OSM is accessible and inclusive for all.

Some comments for the original(v1)

1.) “Increase community diversity”"
IMHO, it would be better to include “inclusivity,” hinting at a broader, more encompassing approach beyond just increasing numbers.

2.) “where tech-savvy western contributors still make up the majority of the community.”

IMHO, we should describe the project’s origins and its current state in a way that doesn’t sound critical.

3.) “For OSM to accurately describe the world, we need to strive for a contributor base that accurately reflects the population.”

In my opinion, this should be clearer about what diversity means for the OSM community. However, please don’t set a quota or KPI based on this number, as some might take it literally and want to make contributors out of even babies.

IMHO: the correct strategy focus would be:
ensuring OSM is accessible and inclusive for all
instead of " a contributor base that accurately reflects the population."

in other words: I prefer: a welcoming and open environment for everyone.
instead of a more specific (and possibly numeric) representation of the world’s demographics,


@Minh_Nguyen Correct! Data consumers giving us attribution is necessary, but not sufficient, for our ends here in my opinion.

One idea is to have a “certified data consumer” program. While this cannot be required under the license (as far as I know), perhaps social presure could be used to get major data consumers to join. Basically, once they join, someone whom the board would appoint would review their use of the data to make sure they are complying with the license terms (and perhaps a few other things, such as regularly updating their data), they would then “earn” the right to display the “Powered by OpenStreetMap” logo (design TBD) on their splash screens and on in their documentation (this would also be required by the program). This is kind of like the “Intel Inside” stickers that are on PCs (haven’t bought a ready made PC in a while, so don’t know if this is still a thing).

  • Once we have safeguards in place to make vandalism more difficult, this latest wave of vandalism related to the Russia-Ukraine war would make a great story. People from around the world are interested in the war, and so the fact that it is apparently also being fought inside an open source project would probably be of interest to major news outlets. It also can lead to a “pitch” for donations (to fund efforts to stop future vandalism related to political situations).

  • Smaller news outlets and websites have fewer resources. Your chance of getting them to run a story is greatly increased if you write the story for them (in the press release). Of course they are free to edit it if they want for stylistic or other reasons, but we will have saved them a great deal of effort and therefore increased the likelyhood that they will run the story. This approach is appropriate for stories of smaller significance (not the one mentioned above about the vandalism). The good news is that you can write the story once, and send it out to hundreds of different outlets.

Bad idea, it is essentially begging for more vandalism. You need to realize that the only thing the current measures are providing are a lull.


We probably don’t need to workshop the contents of press releases and whitepapers at this stage. There’s room to raise these ideas with the CWG outside of this process, and local chapters and informal groups have a role to play as well.

Your suggestion of a certification program might rise to the level of an organization-wide planning document, but it could be boiled down to something less prescriptive, such as, “Create a voluntary certification program for the use of OSM data and incentivize high-profile data consumers to participate.” Still, this might be putting the cart before the horse; I’d imagine there wouldn’t be a ton of bandwidth in the Foundation’s relationships with high-profile data consumers to pursue a certification program while the hat is firmly in hand.

“This strategic plan is a living document. The current version reflects the state of OSM and OSMF and its environment at the time when the document was revised. Circumstances change and with it the strategic alignment of the OSMF. The OSMF board will therefore regularly review this document and adapt it over time.”

In principle, the strategy should not change during a strategic cycle, unless a major turnover takes place. Most changes are on the tactical and operational levels, which should have their own plans and (shorter) PDCA cycles. The current state of things should not alter this strategy document. Of course, things may progress and things may influence the strategic statements, alter focus or whatever. I think such issues should be reported and added as, say, yearly comments, but they should not alter the text. Next strategic cycle, revise, reword, etc,

If a major environment change speeds up the need for a new strategy, do just that: develop a new strategy. I think “regularly review this document and adapt it over time” should be something like “yearly evaluate and report on this strategy, and develop a new strategy document in three years time”.

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