Steve Coast's proposal for OSMF strategic plan

(P.S. : Here’s an excerpt taken from osm mailing list : [Osmf-talk] Alternative Strategic Plan . I brought it here to facilitate easier discussion among the community, as there are users who don’t use the mailing list.)

Dear all

We formed OSMF to take care of the map. Let’s reset and focus on that with a strategic plan by the mappers for the mappers:

The website will focus on completing the map. The map currently shows the “best” view of the map, it will be changed via voluntary or paid efforts to show the “worst” view of the map to encourage completion, like in the beginning when it was blank, and it led to huge efforts to fill the map in:

We will decide what the main thing to complete is. For example, if we decide it’s address data then we will do the following:

i. OSM will only render roads with a new tag “addr:complete", where mappers manually will have to mark roads as address complete. This will immediately make the map go very blank and create a large global project to finish addressing, which is the main thing missing in OSM.

ii. Once complete, we will take similar steps to map, for example, PoIs and only show roads will all PoIs added.

OSM will only render features newer than 24 months to encourage refreshing and revisiting. A tag “feature:verified_2023” or equivalent will be used to do this, along with the last edit date of the feature.

Map notes will be turned on by default.

Social and map quality features will be built in to which will drive engagement and mapping towards completion, for example alerting users to edits or routing problems near where they edit.[2]

Leaderboards of editors, countries, states, regions and counties will be front and center to encourage editing, for example percentage of “addr:complete” roads per country.

Funding will focus on completing the map:

a. By having a clear metrics-based plan above we can seek funding to build specific tools and features towards map completion.

b. A paid “OpenStreetMap Approved” program will standardize corporate membership by certifying a company uses OSM data in a way that respects the license and community.

c. A certified version of OSM will be released quarterly that has been semi-automatically checked for validity and correctness. Paid corporate members can be involved in the process.

d. OSM conferences and local chapters will pay OSMF a small fee per attendee or member and in exchange also be “OpenStreetMap Approved”, once the board is shown to be effective.

The board will focus on completing the map:

a. Reduce the board size and require regional representation.

b. Board members must make a public financial and time commitment.

c. The board will build completion metrics for the map, by using existing tools and working with companies who already have many tools, and engaging with the community. These will be the main agenda of the board meetings.

d. All discretionary funding will go to projects and community members who build credible plans to help complete the map.

If this is interesting, I’d love feedback. We can run some BoF sessions at SOTM US, EU and Africa in July, November and December. Then SOTM Asia when it is confirmed.



Further reading


The plan is very simple at a high level, which should make it actionable and fundable.

  1. Focus on the map
  2. Get it funded
  3. Restructure the board to reflect this

Happy to talk about and take feedback here. I’ve updated the wiki page and posted a set of feedback on the list too.


For B, What would a public financial commitment entail? Mandating a financial commitment would favor Westerners. Of course, there are many financially successful people across the world, but it is always relative to the economic context of the country.

For C, I am assuming that the board would have complete discretion when choosing companies to support OSM via technology transference, or is your ideal board one that has less independence in deciding who it associates with?

It took me six year to make my hometown on the map look more like the one in reality. It is a continuing process during which I became very familiar with this region, which is an important contributing factor. I change part after part until all parts of the map have been improved. It is precisely this progress that enables me to visit and map all different parts.

If this change happens then I’m out of here because it would make no sense to continue. All my work would be lost and I would never be able to repair it, in time. At this moment I am updating surrounding villages. If everything has to be revisited within 24 months then I would still be working on my own quarter within my hometown and never get any further.


If this change happens then I’m out of here because it would make no sense to continue. All my work would be lost and I would never be able to repair it, in time.

as I understood the proposal, no work would be lost, just the map we display as the “main” map on would only show “recent” objects, other maps based on our data would not change.

Having experienced myself the satisfaction of contributing to revealing the world, bit for bit, on the blank map we had in the early days, I find Steve’s radical idea intriguing at first glance. On second thought it would mean occupying much of our available work force with edits that don’t contribute any additional information, if not that this piece of motorway is still existing even three years later, or these city walls (that stood already for 2000 years), or this mountain peak (that stood for millions of years). How likely will an archaeological site change its nature in 3 years? Their opening hours or website could more likely change, on the other hand. Maybe to make something like this (confirmation timestamps/tags without descriptive tags changed) more sustainable, it could be an additional layer/table. All those check dates would create horrible noise in the data otherwise.

Cheers Martin


This ‘not displaying anything that hasn’t been updated lately’ would probably be limited to roads and streets, as that is the preoccupation of corporate editors. No request would be lodged to hide other objects. I am afraid that people would make unnecessary edits just so objects appear on the carto layer, like adding an extra node.


What would that 2 year restriction on showing do to the millions of small and large business that use OSM standard carto in a frame with pins on their website as to where they are and “openstreetmap” bottom right? Drive many towards choosing another provider maybe… Google, OMF perhaps :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


It’s not going to happen. No-one with half a brain is going to suggest making something that claims to be a “representative map of reality” only show things that have been updated within the last couple of years. That said, it would be an interesting exercise to create a map for QA purposes that showed only that. There have been efforts in this direction in the past - didn’t one of the ITO World visualisations that used to exist a few years ago show this? Creating that map would however take a bit more effort than writing a couple of incendiary mailing list posts.

In the extremely unlikely event that someone was able to persuade the OSM Carto authors to “only show things updated in the last 24 months” or persuade the people in charge of the infrastructure to replace OSM Carto with one that did, then I suspect that everyone would just start using one of the other five maps shown on the front page of (or if they were removed) something else elsewhere. Or, of course, just game the system and ensure that everything was updated once every two years mechanically.

Your work can’t be lost - the licence you submitted it under ensures that lots of people (including me) will be able to continue maps using your data - for which I am very grateful!


That’s where I disagree and feel that Steve has been misunderstood. Like he says we will decide what we think is important to map and/or check every X years and produce a map render that then encourages this. I quite like the idea. It does remind me of the ITO Map renders from 10 years ago when I started with OSM. These encouraged me to focus on specific things so that the ITO Map renders were more complete.

Don’t get obsessed by the road suggestion. As Steve wrote this is an example only. Personally I think we could come up with a few map renders designed to encourage mapping of different things (we’re unlikely to agree on a single priority after all!). Going to and being given an option to see the most complete map, or a map showing weaknesses in address mapping, road mapping, environmental mapping, or something else would be amazing and greatly lowers the barrier to new members who currently have to go somewhere other than if they want to work out where the map gaps are.

Some types of POI can change quickly so please take this as my request to have a map render that hides shops and restaurants after 3 to 5 years.

Also it may not be hiding something. Instead it could be a new render style that highlights where something is missing. This could be extra tags on features (e.g. maxspeed on roads) or showing a missing feature by comparing OSM to an external (suitably licenced) database such as EV charge points or addresses.

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The point here is that could be set up so that all visitors to the site see the options. Right now many probably only see the carto map not even bothering to get far enough to see the others let alone see maps which expose where our gaps are and encourage them to become mappers to fix them.

We are at risk of forgetting how most normal people see OSM as we know so much ourselves - e.g. we know other websites that show OSM data differently. Most “normal” people coming to for the first time won’t find all this, see what looks like a mostly complete map and therefore never consider how they could contribute.


I liked the idea of displaying all OSM Notes on the map by default. It is very simple to do, allows the people the turn it off to get cleaner map, but still by default shows some things that need to be done.
And OSM does have a problem of rising number of unresolved notes.

And Notes even helps for non-mappers when using the map, as they often contain info that some amenity is actually gone (or changed purpose) even if old POI is still shown on the map, or that some street is temporarily unpassable due to roadworks (even if without that Note using that street would look like ideal route).

Also, it is not as aggressive as other ideas like hiding of not-recently-updated elements (which is bound to make all OSM non-mappers - and quite a few mappers - annoyed), so I really don’t see why enabling notes by default at least should not be done right now while other opportunities to encourage updating the map are being explored.


I like the idea of having a new layer, that would show only streets with addr:complete for a year. But also, building=yes stops being rendered. Then the next year, just when we map our town, there is a new style, where only streets with sidewalks, and only buildings with building:levels get rendered.

The feeling of streets showing up and the city map being built would be intoxicating.

I wonder if there might be some sort of magic technology that would make doing this really easy. Perhaps readers have some suggestions?

If remembering back, OSM was a very reliable source of roads while planning my cycling trips. If OSM had a way shown, there was a way. Nowadays that changed. Huge areas were traced and left alone for years. Now 10 years later are they still trustworthy? Would you bet such road/path still exist? In this regards it sounds pretty reasonable to motivate people checking for it and will help OSM to stay reliable.

No magic technology @Richard. We already have everything we need (technology wise) to do this. We just need to use our existing stuff to render 2 or 3 new map styles and change the layout of so that instead of showing one big map at first it gives the visitors a list or grid of options to choose from. How’s that as a suggestion?

P.s. just to head of the “so do it yourself” response that some might post: I wish I could but unfortunately I’m not skilled enough on the technology side. OSMF should pay someone who is to do this though

“OSMF should” is a non-argument - the board gets voted in every year, and each member sets a platform for what they would like to happen. If you think “OSMF should” then stand for the board with a plan, get elected and put your plan into action.

There’s another option of course, if you can’t do it yourself - pay someone else to do it.

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@RobJN - that’s an interesting answer but not the correct one. :wink:

I was, of course, alluding to vector tiles. Spinning up more and more raster tile servers is a technological dead-end and doesn’t really scale. Vector tiles allow us to do this and so much more.

OSMF should pay someone who is to do this though

Yes. Totally. I think we’re kind of stuck on the fact that moving to vector tiles is enough of a big job that it’s largely beyond the reach of volunteers, and yet we haven’t had one of those fairy godmother moments (like Mapbox building iD) for a while. This is absolutely what OSMF needs to do.


Vector tiles would certainly be the better solution if it existed. Problem is it doesn’t for us yet (although I appreciate it is used elsewhere). We need to be careful not to let this become a barrier though. We can get one or two raster options with what we have now, and the website landing page change can happen now. Both these things would move us forward and better to be doing that now rather than waiting for something that (to my uneducated mind) seems no closer now than it was 24 months ago.


@SomeoneElse: I’m not prepared to stand for election to the OSMF board:

(1) I’m not prepared to do “half a job”; if I’m going to do it I’d want to be putting my all in to it.
(2) and I have a lack of time between my paid job and life to actually do this,
(3) unless OSMF was willing to pay me, in which case I would go part time at work

And I’m not going to personally pay someone to do this work. Hobbies are expensive and I feel I spend enough on OSM already.

P.S. I do wish we would allow people to share their views without giving responses like “just do it yourself” or “stand for election and implement it”. Not everyone can or wants to but they are still entitled to share their views and opinions. Please respect that because dismissing it is the sort of thing that puts people off bothering to share ideas in the first place. Less ideas = worse for OSM.