Growing our community through networks

Posted by lxbarth on 11 October 2015 in English (English)

Elections to the OpenStreetMap US board of directors are on and I'm running again. With your vote we'll grow OpenStreetMap in the US. Read more on how we can accomplish this below and join OpenStreetMap US until October 18th to cast your vote.

I am proud of the work we've done with OpenStreetMap US and now is the time to grow our community further by tapping into the huge networks that have started to adopt OpenStreetMap like education, civic hacking and government. Growing our community will bring in more diversity and new energy to make an even better map.

I've served on the OpenStreetMap US board of directors for three years and I can't wait to jump into another one. In the next year I want to work with everyone on the board and the community to strap on the rocket boosters and reach more people by connecting us with networks who've already started using OpenStreetMap.

At my work at Mapbox we use and contribute to OpenStreetMap extensively. I am helping build a team that so far has made a quarter million edits to the map, we work in the open and we are key contributors to open source tools for mapping like the web editor iD and the QA tool To-Fix. The beauty and power of OpenStreetMap is it's providing this one space for everyone to collaborate resulting in a map of amazing quality and coverage available entirely openly. That's what drives my passion for this community, OpenStreetMap US, my work and for my personal contributions to the map.

Ten years of work by OpenStreetMap contributors in the continental United States. Full view.

In my three years on the board of directors we have focused on making our flag ship event State of the Map US the gathering place for everyone in OpenStreetMap culminating with this year's conference at the United Nations with over 800 participants up from 220 three years earlier. In the same time we have increased female participation from 15.5 % to 30 % (still ways to go!). We have run quarterly nation-wide mapathons inviting local communities to get together and map their cities.

We strengthened our ability to fund raise allowing us to raise $240,000 total in 2015 where we raised $30,000 just three years ago. We delivered a consistent quality conference, we polished design and communication, we retained a book keeper to ensure sound financials long-term (our board is up for election every year!) and we are in the process of applying for 501 c 3 status, allowing for tax free donations.

We've accomplished all of this as a board putting team work first with the help of an amazing community. Just at the last State of the Map US, in addition to the board, we had over 10 volunteers involved in planning and 50 volunteers helping at the event.

And this is just the beginning. While some of these numbers are impressive and the seeds we have planted are developing, the people we haven't reached yet are still in the majority. Institutions gather information that should live in OpenStreetMap but doesn't. There are maps that would be better with OpenStreetMap but they're built on something else. There are people who would be amazing mappers but they haven't heard yet about the project.

To build a better map for everyone we need to do two things: connect OpenStreetMap to the problems people are trying to solve and do it at scale. We need to tap into existing networks where OpenStreetMap can play a valuable role and help them bring mapping to their members. At our conferences we've already seen the start of this. Specifically, we've had increased engagement by actors from education, civic hacking and local government who all maintain strong nation-wide networks down to the local level that we should use to bring OpenStreetMap to people.

In the next year I want to work with everyone on the board and the community to strap on the rocket boosters and reach more people by connecting us with networks who've already started using OpenStreetMap. We should do this by both strengthening our local communities for local outreach and actively building relationships with national networks. We need to make using and contributing to OpenStreetMap incredibly straightforward and actionable in very specific contexts. This will involve training programs, mini grants, mapping events, bringing OpenStreetMap to other conferences and more measures we yet need to discover.

Join and vote!

I hope I have your vote for this endeavour at this year's OpenStreetMap US elections and I'd like to invite you to join in building these networks. If you have ideas on what's needed to build a better map and a better community, I would love to hear from you here on the comment thread or just drop me an email.

If you're not a member yet - you can sign up before October 18th and still vote!

Comment from Super-Map on 15 October 2015 at 08:01

Hi lxbarth,

I thing the first thing who the new users must "know", learn, it's the "wiki", simply read the "beginners guide". Learn the guide of the software used: "Potlatch, ID" for all newbies. And understand the "goal" of this project... As you know, it isn't a simple map, and the possibilities of use is wide. I like it, because it's based of Open Sources "spirit" and that "great"! Everybody can add his own knowledge of an area, town, city, "forest"... his "mountain bike track... information where is located his "bakery", for example, with all informations we need to know: "address, phone number, opening hours"... That is for a "place" you know. However, nothing prevent you to map a city far away your home, where you never go. You must only take more "precautions" and take your time...

They exist a multiple "use", but the main use is liked we our "century", is "on air". And you know that trouble in USA: "climate change", and not only and his aftermath, on all of us: "yesterday, today, TOMORROW"!

Throughout this great project I use several "path" for to map an "area": "Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team project, Missing Map project, both are necessary... You know now perfectly who is the responsible of "climate change": "the human" activities... we haven't all the same impact and consequences, however, we have all our part of the "scheduled disasters"! We pay all the bill and we will endure the consequences, it's just the beginning, they exist a certain "inertia affect"!...

I take a particular attention for to work on map "carefully", because I know the abilities, the "capacities" of this project.

Have a nice end of week.

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