OpenStreetMap

Teams for OpenStreetMap!

Posted by kamicut on 5 September 2019 in English (English)

Today Development Seed is excited to launch mapping.team. At the core of this platform is the new OSM Teams API, a platform-agnostic tool for mappers, organizations and developers to coordinate mapping and build communities. Visit dev.mapping.team to start creating teams of OSM users, or use the OSM Teams API to integrate the service into your own app.

Why Teams?

OpenStreetMap has over 1 million users who have contributed at least one changeset. Among those 1 million users, the motivations to map vary drastically. For some it’s a hobby, others voluntarily map to help people in need, and others are part of organizations who pay them to map, or students in classrooms exploring the globe. Regardless of the motivation, OSM has brought people together to collaborate and create the largest map database of the world.

Community organization is one of the most important parts of for the OSM ecosystem. Connecting with other mappers helps them engage more deeply and contribute better. Tools like the OSM Community Index, teams in OSMCha and OSM.org wikis and groups help people find local groups around them, and map or validate together. Yet that community experience isn’t well integrated across the OSM editing and validating stack. Groups and teams in Tasking Manager can’t be brought into OSMCha, and vice-versa. While connecting with other mappers can improve accuracy and enable the formation of local communities, finding other users in OSM to organize around shared goals requires sorting through multiple disconnected social platforms.

There are many organizations and groups doing targeted, collaborative mapping in OSM to improve their map products, including us at Development Seed. We heavily rely on tools like Tasking Manager to ensure areas are equally divided among team members. But OSM lacks tools to manage your team in the open. There are no cross-application tools to create a team, add members, or allow mappers to join. Coordinated mapping requires giving teams instructions and feedback at the right time, and also tracking and analyzing their progress. Coordinated campaigns lack tools to scale coordination and feedback with the current toolset.

While certain OSM tools have a notion of groups or teams, there is currently no way of sharing that information across the various tools that make up someone’s OSM experience. OSM Teams provides that infrastructure. It provides a common API to create and manage team membership that OSM software developers can integrate into their platforms in order to create a more unified team experience for users.

That’s why today, we’re launching the beta of OSM Teams. OSM Teams provides an OSM-native community organization tool, allowing users to sign in with their OSM profile, and connect and use their teams in any OSM ecosystem applications. OSM Teams sits between OSM OAuth and your apps to give an interface to create, share and manage your team.

What is OSM Teams?

OSM Teams is an independent authentication API that has a framework for creating teams and roles. As an independent API, Teams is a separate, lightweight service that associates teams & roles to OSM user accounts. The API can be used with global OSM or with containerized instances of OSM, such as TeachOSM. OSM Teams is a “glue” service that client apps can integrate with to provide teams functionality. Team members, ownership and features are respected in tools across the OSM ecosystem, no matter where the team is created.

OSM Teams is launching in beta and development is ongoing. Currently you can create a team, add members and basic descriptions, and get an API key to connect third party clients. We’re excited to collaborate with apps like OSMCha and Tasking Manager to improve the API further. If you are a developer and want to integrate OSM Teams, we’d like to hear from you! In the meantime, we’re working on the following features:

  • Team privacy settings (Public, Private, and Unlisted teams)
  • Join options for open or closed teams
  • Team and user search by name, location, and hashtags

In the future, we also plan to explore ideas including:

  • Team message boards
  • Dynamic team creation from campaigns, locations, and hashtags
  • Connecting to event management services, and even hosting basic event information

Testing and Feedback

We want to build this with the help of the community, and would love to receive your feedback and ideas for improved or additional features. Go to dev.mapping.team to join the beta, or check out our code and contribute to the osm-teams github repo. We look forward to your feedback, issues and pull requests!

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