Thoughts about the future of OSM

To be direct, I see no future of OSM, or at least no future where it is used outside of extremely privacy oriented individuals.
Looking at how it is already losing against any other software caused by not having enough contributors yet is the out for many areas of the world.
If we then take into account that google already has 3D maps, some car navigation I saw even built in picture-like models of the most important buildings around you, and that the future of mapping will most probably be by AI, it may be dark for openstreetmap.
On top of this, OSM is not even interesting for the most people and companies who don’t focus on privacy. I guess it just seems too complex and untrustworthy in terms of complete or correct data, which I can absolutely understand.
(For reference: Japan for example is still missing a lot of buildings, many train lines and busses are not connected correctly and probably much more than half of the shops are missing)

Just because it is this way, I tried again and again to do something about it, but it is impossible. If we would be talking about Germany there would be still free space to add new features and improve the whole thing, but if we talk about many other countries OSM is just barely usable.

So with this, my thoughts about OSM and it’s eventual half-death.


I mean, that’s just nonsense. In Europe, OSM powers basically every single cycling and walking map there is.


Suppose you want to make a {{thing}}. To make {{thing}} work, you need some geodata.
Where to get geodata?

That was the original motivation for OSM. It’s still a perfectly valid motivation, people still make stuff. The only difference is that we now have a database/community/software ecosystem with twenty years of work put into it.


So happens German Post / DHL switched to OSM for their routing. Both my cycle/walk/hike prog and Bosch Bike Connect use OSM too, me Mapfactor car router does, TomTom frequently constantly launches OSM challenges to fix this or that, one now for the Giro d’Italia.

Just saying


I get what you’re saying. In some ways, OSM is still far, far behind commercial alternatives. But in others, it’s far ahead. To be a complete “layman’s” alternative for everyday navigation, business lookup, etc. it may never catch up.
But, as others have pointed out, OSM excels in its original mission, and clients like Organic Maps make it more accessible to the non-enthusiast every year.


While reading this i am pretty astonished as thats completely out of my experience.

It might be a different issue for different countries but in Germany we have the official Cadastre people playing with OpenStreetmap. We have Amazon Logistics, DHL, Hermes, Deutsche Bahn extensively using OpenStreetmap.

All Hiking, Cycling apps use OpenStreetmap and are basically unthinkable without

Basically everyone is migrating away from Google, mostly because of cost issues.



Ah, it’s feeding time. Popcorn, anyone?


MS sponsored OSMF with 150K US according a weekly newsletter some months ago, like large banks… too big to allow to die and ‘commercials’ are siphoning updated / added data constantly… one way. As one poster commented, put it in OSM today and it shows up on Google Maps the next day. ;p)

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Whether something is “better” than OSM certainly depends on your use case; many will happily accept that OSM is incomplete if that is balanced out by, you know, the whole thing being free and open. The crucial thing is that OSM continues to attract mappers to make it better; if those were to stay away because something else is more fun to contribute to, then we’d have a problem. But we don’t have a problem just because some in-car navigation system has pretty 3D pictures.


Hi, your concern is noted and appreciated. It’s kind of difficult to respond constructively to general foreboding about the future, but you have me wondering:

The hardest part about being a mapmaker is that everyone judges your map solely based on how well it performs in their own backyard, disregarding all the wonderful things it gets completely right elsewhere. (I’ll let you in on a secret: no map passes this test completely.)

So far in this thread, we’ve heard from folks in Europe who feel optimistic about our accomplishments; meanwhile, you point out a different experience in Japan. Do you think this perception might be common in your region? Do others in OSM’s Japanese community share this sense of pessimism?


Well, Uber and Pokemon GO are both using OSM and combined has more downloads than Google Maps, soooo. I’m happy to announce that GM’s days are counted.

But in more serious note, people always seem to forget that osm is not a software, it’s not indented to be used alone. It’s database that is used by A LOT of different services. There are maps, navigations, taxis, goverment services, games and more.


If we’re talking about OSM vs. commercial services such as Google Maps, this thread is related and already contains an extensive discussion about the topic. Something I’d also like to add, which hasn’t been brought up yet, is that the “future of OSM” in relation to these commercial services doesn’t solely depend on how OSM evolves, but also on how these services evolve. I don’t want to get too off-topic, but at least the follow aspects are important here:

  • Just because one service is popular now, doesn’t mean it will remain popular. The downfall of services doesn’t only depend on the service itself, but can also depend on company decisions, court rulings or major changes in civil law, …
  • Just because something is presented as being “the future” by the company selling it, doesn’t mean it will be adopted on a large scale and/or replace existing concepts. Yes, Meta, I’m looking at you and your “Metaverse”.
  • Any prediction of how the OSM ecosystem will evolve is unreliable because of the vast amount of factors involved and the difficulty in predicting them. It’s mostly just speculation.
  • The differences between Europe/NA and other parts of the world are also reflected in (some) commercial services.

Also, is the goal of the OSM project to fully replace other software? In my opinion no, just as the goal of LibreOffice isn’t to make Microsoft Office obsolete, or the goal of Wikipedia isn’t to reduce the sales of encyclopedias to zero.


It may be a long shot - but maybe government can be persuaded to release their building dataset?

It is not an easy task but it was achieved for example in Poland* where relatively high quality building datasets are available for imports without any restrictions whatsoever (sadly, still need some review - but it takes far less effort than drawing them manually).

*admittedly I have no idea HOW it was actually achieved with BDOT10K. If anyone knows about how such thing was achieved in Poland or elsewhere it could be very interesting story to share.

I am curious what kind of datasets are used by people making cycling/hiking maps in Japan.

What kind of data source is used by FB for their maps?

Are there some high-quality datasets that are available for use but at the same time on license making impossible to import them into OSM?

(disclaimer: poor quality imports make things worse, not better. Wild importing is not a solution and many areas suffer from say low-quality landcover imports)

Note that in many countries “OSM is just barely usable” is still better than any existing competition.

Maybe Japan has better alternatives available while OSM is just starting?

Thanks for all help! Note that this kind of project is not done in a day, month or a decade - but is long term one.

So frustration is definitely understandable in many cases.

What kind of competition is in Japan? Google Maps?

Is there any open data project competing (maybe wining) with OSM? What kind of data source you would use for making own map/scientific research/new app?


Multiple things in this post are just wrong (amount of money, statement about google copying from OSM), pls don’t start a :popcorn: worthy subthread, in a thread that is already :popcorn:


Microsoft Pledges $150k to Support OpenStreetMap | OpenStreetMap Blog.

OpenStreetMap != OSMF

As the individual sums are not disclosed it is not quite clear how much the event sponsorship was that went to the OSMF is (which is taxable and not a donation).

New funds that directly went to the OSMF are $57k plus the difference between the previous membership tier and platinum.

Not knocking that at all, but it would be misleading to claim that MS donated $150k to the foundation.

Games? What games use OSM?

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OpenStreetMap is a community of hobbyists that have got together to build a geospatial thing. Most of us would not consider ourselves to be in competition with the commercial providers of maps.

It’s a hobby, I do it for the fun.


In addition to Pokémon Go, all of these.


I’m a long time fan of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Nice to see it uses our data :slight_smile:

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