Thoughts about the future of OSM

Japan is home to a formidable domestic mapping industry, so I can understand why you’d look at OSM and find the data lacking by comparison. I also encounter this reaction quite often as a mapper in Silicon Valley, where the volunteer community is relatively tiny. But as others have expressed here, OSM is not just about catching up to well-resourced companies but also about redefining mapmaking on our own terms. In that sense, we can be as successful as our imaginations allow us to be.

I find it interesting that you consider privacy to be OSM’s main selling point to consumers. I spend a couple hours every fortnight trying to convince people from my area to become OSM contributors. In several years of doing this, I don’t think privacy has come up even once, but many other qualities of OSM have gotten people excited about the project, such as the ability to literally put your hobby on the map, or query and download the data without asking for permission. Some have gotten excited simply because armchair mapping looks like a nonfiction video game.

You don’t think small-time mapping is a worthwhile pursuit. You’d be right if each mapper were mapping in isolation, never sharing with each other, but we’re actually cooking stone soup and the result will be delicious. Think of all the people who would enjoy small-time mapping and would love to share their passion with the world but haven’t gotten the chance, all because someone else decided it wasn’t a good use of time and didn’t tell them about it.


I see OSM popping up a fair bit in everyday life (and I’m not even in Europe!). Examples include…

  • Maps in news articles.
  • The most popular weather app in my country.
  • Strava.
  • Pretty much every hiking/outdoors app in existence.

So OSM certainly doesn’t feel dead to me :smile:

I will admit though, it’s frustrating how there’s no real OSM-based competitor to the Google Maps app/website. The closest thing we’ve got is probably Organic Maps, and while it’s amazing, they just don’t have the resources to compete toe-to-toe with Google. Hopefully this will change one day, but I’m not holding my breath.


In Belgium, OSM data is used quite a bit in other services, both government and non-goverment; this wiki page has an overview.

The battle against the tech giants is one you will never win. Maybe, instead of focusing on the growth on the projects, its community or use cases, we should pride ourselves on what OSM does excel at, and try to improve the quality of data, not quantity. Higher quality data will lead to more applications using OSM, thus increasing the number of people who have heard about the OSM project, thus enlarging the community in the long term. The “poor data quality / few applications / small userbase” situation isn’t just a static situation, it’s a vicious cycle that will continue unless you break it.


When I explain OSM to people, I always say that almost every map they interact with and which isn’t a government map or Gmaps has at least some OSM DNA in it.


I see OSM as Wikipedia, but for maps. There are no other alternatives if you want to add some facts about the world and make them durable. It’s not only about privacy, open-source data layer has infinite use cases, it’s not going away.


depending on where you edit facts are not allowed, OSM at its core is full of unverified out of date information. No one knows where the data is coming from nor can the data be verified. OSM is inherently fragile and only 1 edit away from sourced documented material being removed and replaced with out verification. OSM excels at hiking and cycleway data though.

It is technically true, but it is rare, and every step is being recorded, so it’s trivial to recover from vandalism. Wikipedia is no different, everything is one edit away from becoming nonsense, but the project thrives. That said, moderation can be improved, it’s not an unsolvable fundamental flaw.

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I suspect that is true of essentially all geo data, maybe the sole exception being directly sourced cadastre information (assuming it would be available on data entry, which is likely not actually the case in many places).


This is not true at all, and using official data is allowed (license requirements, import guidelines still apply).

You were blocked for different reasons and it was explained to you multiple times. See Blocks on slice0 | OpenStreetMap for more info.

official classification also has many cases of bad, misleading or insane classification

and anyway using solely official classification would make basically impossible to have any consistency between different parts of world at all

not true for both claims (or more specifically, it depends on how much quality you need, for some cases neither OSM not GMaps is good enough, for some both are fine, for some - depending on specifics - only one of them is viable)

though “google on the other hand is 100% government sourced” is just blatantly false


Google Maps is not using official clasification of roads. At least not in Poland. And road numbers in GM is often outdated. It is diffucult to show, but I tried.

In North there is the “52” road - it is a natonial road. In South there is “945” road - it is a voivodeship road (a regional road). They are both marked the same on Google, but they are different classification officially. It’s the same in osm by the way where both are primary.

Yes, this has been my personal experience. I updated the city of Salamanca in Mexico so that all the roads were as accurate as possible some four years back, and after I had finished Google updated their map maybe two days later. I know because I had looked up the city in Google beforehand and their map matched the roads that had been accidentally dragged out of position by past editors in OSM. Then they updated it to reflect my improvements.

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See say Unpaved, short road leading to disused railway station, officially classified as important road (“droga wojewódzka”). The paved road on the left has the same official classification. As their actual importance is not the same, their classification in OSM is not the same.

Photo by PiotrMig Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

this email is 100% right, I see no problems with it

I would try to invent a new tag for this. Something like highway:class:pl | Keys | OpenStreetMap Taginfo (assuming that this data can be imported)

And stop trying to overwrite highway key supposed to be storing info about actual road importance in road network.

I would also reread your block messages and follow instructions there.


Right. slice0 aka whatever his or her or their past names were is still very mad that the community doesn’t see it their way on their unilateral approach to editing.

If you’re going to feed the trolls hijacking the original topic and dignify this dumpster fire of a thread with continued responses, at least have the common courtesy of passing the popcorn.


Mmmm popcorn.


Nor is this topic :smile:


designation is also sometimes used for this sort of thing, and it was suggested a couple of times in a couple of places to our correspondent from SA here.

You absolutely can create a map showing that data. You can do that yourself or you can pay or persuade someone else to do that for you. What you can’t do is overrule pretty much everyone else in Australia about what an appropriate classification for a road is in OSM.

While the initial question was I’m sure serious and not a troll it certainly did set the tone (starting with “To be direct, I see no future of OSM”), so it’s not too much of a surprise to see where it’s gone from there. It looks like the moderators have had a go at culling some of the more egregiously offtopic stuff from the thread. I wish them well with that, but suspect it will be a lost cause…

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Sometimes “consensus” comes from looking at the balance of opinion, and from just “reading the room”. In the case of SA road classification, I think that you would have to admit that you aren’t on the side of the majority of people who have expressed an opinion (across various forums, changeset comments, Discord et al).

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Only bylaws will save OSM, or something.


“Unverified” is a funny word :slight_smile:

Someone saw a thing, and wrote it down. The real world often doesn’t even make the top 10 on people’s mental list of what can be considered “real”.

Back on topic, there was an interesting comment on Hacker News today regarding Overture reaching “beta”-status

It’s not a risk per se, but it feels like a shame that there’s now two parallel efforts instead of one integrated effort of open map data. Overture can’t take away our hiking apps, but could mean future car navigation apps get built on Overture instead of OSM data

Post link

You are being too cynical. There’s a lot of data outside of open streetmap that complements open streetmap. A lot of that data is open but hard to combine with openstreet maps. And some of that data is owned by companies that are willing to license the data in an open way.

Overture basically is a joint effort by several companies to combine all that data.

Speaking as someone who has worked with OSM data. It’s great for maps but severely lacking elsewhere with a lot of incomplete data, poorly/inconsistently tagged data, lot’s of regional variation in tagging, etc. All this presents challenges for users of this data wanting to build stuff on top of this data. And there are lots of companies that are replicating efforts to fix this between each other. Been there done that. This is hard, non trivial work.

Overture is an attempt to move on from lots of companies reinventing this wheel to get to a state where there is a decent data foundation to build their applications on.

And they are releasing that data under an open license. So, there’s a lot to like here. The process of how this data is produced is not as open unfortunately and it is unfortunate that they are doing this outside of the openstreetmap community.

But then perhaps that community wasn’t that welcoming to get such a thing done? Nor have they seem capable or willing to do such work themselves. Overture are clearly working around them and it’s worth spending some time reflecting on whether that could have worked differently and what would have had to change on both sides for that to happen.

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Is there any effort from OSM side related to autonomous vehicles? Like, is it even possible? The future of maps seems to be converging to that.