Seeking comment on latest revision of OSMF Strategic Plan

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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We did quite a lot of press work when I was on CWG many many years ago, and it worked.

OSM was at a different stage of its development then. Our main aim was to stimulate adoption of the map by data consumers, so we put together switch2osm and did a bunch of activity around that (of course, Google Maps’ hike in API prices helped…).

I don’t think that’s the challenge today. switch2osm did its job. We now have a lot of developer mindshare and a bunch of service companies for people who don’t want to handcraft everything. OSM is already the default data provider for most apps/sites who want some form of custom mapping solution. We don’t need to labour that point any more.

What we do need to do is drive more, and more diverse, contributions. That means making people aware that the map they already use is OpenStreetMap, and that they can edit it.

You can’t do that without attribution. You can drive more conversions if you do media work around that, and you should. The ideal is that you do some brand work to make people vaguely aware of what OSM is, and then next time they see OSM attribution on a map, they know “oh yeah, I read about that, I can make that better!”. And that absolutely relies on attribution - you don’t get the conversion otherwise. No-one is going to know that Facebook’s map is based on OpenStreetMap (so that’s how they improve it) but Google’s map isn’t, unless Facebook’s map has the word “OpenStreetMap” on it.


This is however the* example in which it doesn’t really work. Contributors can fix things as long as they like on OSM, outside of road geometry and street names, it is not going to be reflected in Facebooks map, breaking the positive feedback loop that drives contributions.

* in general it wont work for any OSM usage in a similar fashion, and naturally Facebook is not the only one, and it is going to be even more common (at least as long as the OMF hasn’t replaced OSM as their source of road geometries).


On 2nd thought(s) there is a goal and corresponding actions that is missing IMHO.

As I pointed out here Google publishes buildings footprints v3 - #7 by SimonPoole one of the endearing aspects of using OSM should be that you only have one set of licence terms that you need to adhere to and a single attribution requirement. It would be even better if there was just one licensor, but that ship sailed a long time ago.

Still it would seem to me that the OSMF should not ignore that it needs to actively work to keep these qualities of the data it distributes alive as far as practical e.g. outlawing CC BY imports is not going to fly, and that the current laisser faire (for example global imports of MS building outlines and other non-sublicensable data) is rapidly creating an untenable situation.

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I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that the Foundation place less importance on attribution. But is moving the needle on Facebook attribution really a blocker for working on increased visibility for the project among potential contributors?

From my perspective, attribution has become a less effective tool for visibility and outreach over the years, but not just due to how the attribution is presented. Sites and applications are already so loaded up with popups and GDPR cookie dialogs and other gizmos that users have become quite adept at dismissing things without reading them. The more you try to get in the user’s way, the more they want you to get out of their way.

To the extent that I’ve seen people discover OSM through attribution lately, they’ve gotten the message that OSM is ubiquitous but have not gotten the message that anyone can contribute. I’d rather the Foundation allocate any spare time to new approaches for cutting through the noise.

This suboptimal feedback loop is also relevant to outdoors applications that overlay their own crowdsourced content. Setting up effective feedback systems is a challenge for everyone, not just third-party providers like us.



Re: this and subsequent posts about storytelling and OSM.

As a member of the CWG, I can tell you that a) there is a lot of opportunity for getting media coverage for free because the story of OSM is compelling, multifaceted, and positive and b) OSM needs writers to pitch it and write these stories.

Part b takes time. Writing and placing a story cannot be tasked. It takes hours of thought equity, and it only sometimes results in any form of payment.

(and for all of you who are about to type ‘what are ten great stories of OSM into ChatGPT’, just don’t. That’s not the quality of story this project deserves, and it won’t get placement anywhere that matters.)

Writers and storytellers who know how to place stories via social and digital media, pitches, interviews and commentary are rare in OSM. We are working hard to build up the volunteer resources of the CWG, including getting ownership of and making content plans for OSM social media. It’s just like any other discipline. It takes skill and time.

Another CWG member and I were musing yesterday that OSM is a treasure of stories that are rarely told on any of its public communications outlets. Usually it’s the other way around: organizations have to stretch their one or two fairly bland stories for many outlets.

One thing I notice, often, is that the people who are very fluent in the data or the software are too close to the project to see the stories. I also think that the impact of the data on many, many aspects of modern business and technology is not well told. Very broadly speaking, OSM’ers tend to be exact and data-centric, privileging exposition and facts over narrative and metaphorical imagery. It’s hard for people who don’t have GIS or similar backgrounds to understand the project without narrative and imagery.

In the early days of the project there was a strong commitment to evangelizing it to people who didn’t already understand mapmaking. Now, the conversation is almost entirely amongst insiders

I think OSM should have a chief storyteller who is given free reign to narrate the story of project and its people in ways that storytellers knows are effective. The community should fund a stipend for it because such writing takes time and few writers are independently wealthy. The community should protect this person from the everyday criticisms of the forums and lists, as well, so that they can delight and inform and entertain in the ways that storytellers do.

It would pay off in fundraising and visibility that could raise interest for the next generation of contributors. More importantly, it would be a wonderful complement to the enormous good that the OSM project already does for the world.


I was on the OSMF Board for a few years. There are very definitely a diversity of views within OSM(F) on how important the OSMF should treat OSM Attribution. Some think it shouldn’t be a focus at all. Some that it’s the most important.