Notes: State of the Map 2015, NYC (Day 1)

Will Skora edited this page Jun 7, 2015 · 5 revisions

State of the Map 2015

The following notes are not comprehensive. Check out @hamhands's notes as well!

Richard Fairhurst, of

  • talked about how cycling data typically leads to some of the richest data in OSM.
  • OSM became popular and gained many contributors only when it became useful
  • make tools that make editing much easier. This app is a proof of concept that allows you to edit the map with verbal commands as you are walking down the street:
  • could you integrate a speech recognition application with a "sighting" app \

John Crowley, OSM for Climate & Crisis: HOT

Discussing HOT's impact and how the OSM community needs to embrace a more institutionalized format to more effectively help local communities.

  • Geeks don't trust institutions because of their lack of mobility, but HOT needs to be a formal institution to be able to accept grants, get contracts, and receive donations.
  • donors require relationship management, not a version history. We need to create an API for donors
  • need to acknowledge realities. Remote mapping doesn't work without ground truth. Field mapping efforts often find remote mapping helpful, but not always. We can't do something worthwhile without having members at the community level being proactive about their local data.
  • This is a huge design challenge the HOT community is dealing with - designing a proper feedback loop between the field and remote mappers, but it will require experienced leadership and a more formal process.
  • Maps are not the end goal. Maps enable decisions.
  • Speaking for and of OSM/HOT should be carefully thought through, considering the trust the community has built with the data
  • Dealing with the criticisms is challenging. We have not yet earned the full trust of the international community.
  • "Show our belief in the power of maps by building trust and reputation around our work."

Mikel Maron, OSM is more than excellent data. It's a transformation.

Mikel spoke about how the OSM community is wide-spread, but intra government collaboration is difficult because of bureaucratic silos. He talked about how many partnership and groups are out there to spread the idea of OSM and how transformative the open mapping world can be for communities.

  • this talk is not about hard questions of use, domestic US use, or the professionalization of OSM
  • how does government change when exposed to OSM?
  • bureaucracy is real. It takes up time, which makes doing work in government hard.
  • Silos are real. It's hard to see people doing so many similar things in different agencies but there is no space to collaborate.
  • The use of OSM is relatively wide-spread within government institutions (USAID, Peace Corps, Missing Maps, NPS, USGS, DOT, Open Cities, etc.) and the people who work for these institutions are attendees of OSM events! OSM is people before data
  • "Go where you aren't supposed to be"
  • "Pretend it already works that way"
  • "love the process"
  • "There is a hunger for real stuff"

Here are some cool efforts/websites related to OSM outreach and education

  • check out this sweet imagery coordination site at
  • Idea: the OSM community is excellent to engage with and there are many departments that can work with it to build new relationships:
  • here is a nice set of steps about how to get involved with mapping and become part of the OSM community from MapGive
  • OSM Institutions: we map together, but why don't we work together? Getting OSM institutionalized
  • A jekyll starter repo, but originally for talking about OSM stories
  • A set of curriculum tools for teachers to start introducing OSM into the classroom - TeachOSM

Gov & OSM Panel

Hearing some brief stories from those working in Government (federal, state, and local) about how they have used OSM in their jobs and how government views the open data initiative that OSM brings.

  • The data pendulum is swinging from "not sharing" to a culture of "open data sharing" - certainly heading in the right direction
  • releasing data can be liberating for both those using it, and those within government who are doing the releasing
  • where is the NYC GIS department going: OSM for routing (turn-by-turn), additional data releases, pilot GoeGig for versioning (for tracking diffs in map data), using MapRoullette to do additional challenges
  • National Map Corps - a group of volunteers to curate structures and POIs, but OSM's odbl forbids OSM data to be entered into NMC's database is under a public Domain license (not sure if this is accurate, someone maybe heard better than me?)
  • GNIS editor: Instead of relying on a crowd to make changes, they are making things more structured in order to make changes. This is turning out to be relatively successful, and hopefully name data will be pushed into OSM soon

Tom Hughes, Building

  • Built on a bunch of web/rails servers that pump that pass information between a database server and a tile server
  • schema:
    • users (tokens, access, etc.)
    • geodata (nodes, changesets, ways, relations, etc.)
    • GPS Data
    • Notes
  • Main code is the "Rails Port" located at
  • Getting started? Check out the,, and in the repository. Alternatively you can checkout `VAGRANT.
  • There are issues with the site! Take a look on the issue thread

Peripheral Data in OSM, Ian Dees

  • Ian Dees started Open Addresses because he met much resistance importing data into OSM. Needed a spot to keep track of progress while he collected data that didn't cause ripples in the fabric of the OSM data community.
  • doesn't connect to OSM right now. They are finding their niche where the community comes together under the open data roof. Commonality is to make "open data" a thing.
  • Open Addresses did come out of the desire to import into OSM, but currently not happening

Mapzen OSM Extracts, Diana Shkolnikov

  • Monitor quality in OSM data. Extracting downloads that are up-to-date - isolate subsets of data, and let people evaluate the quality of the dataset to build a quality feedback loop. Extracting these datasets into helpful pieces makes OSM much more accessible. Check out the metro extracts.
  • any updates that happen are picked up automatically

Mapillary, Jan Erik Solem

  • Mapillary crowd sourcing streetview. Not from the mapping space initially, but rather interested in creating 3d data.
  • currently not using OSM specifically, but they have incorporated into iD. They are not consuming the data yet, though.

Trailhead Labs, Jereme Monteau

  • TrailheadLabs is building standard for trails and parks and recreation. Working with P&R agencies for a number of years publishing data and making it useful to park visitors. Open Trails really addressed a need for them to define a format that was agreed upon between all organizations.
  • Open trails was designed as a standard to be interoperable with OSM in a variety of ways.
  • Hoping to turn people interested in the data into data editors, Drew Dara Abrams

  • aggregates publicly avaialable transit data (spatial and temporal). The project finds that OSM handles geographic components well, but not temporal (bus schedules, calendars, time-tables, etc.).

Andy Allan, OSM Carto

Andy addressed the workflow and changes to the OSM base map styles. Some big changes this year to the styles:

  1. Advanced labels - labels are changing sizes depending on their type. They used to all be the exact same size.
  2. Color of buildings - old color used to dominate the map, especially in urban areas. Now roads are much more visible. This required a lot of examination of other colors used throughout the map to make sure everything was
  3. Icons - all converted from PNG images to vector SVGs. This is making them less blurry and preparing for changes in the future.


  • The map that we have has to major purposes. 1) Landing page for newcomers is a high zoom level view of Europe. It's not necessarily the best landing page. 2) It's a place to reflect changes, which are down to the smallest detail and can be very overwhelming if all shown in their entirety. Making a map that is both good at giving an overview and showing these minute changes is a conflict of priorities.
  • Some of the github discussions lead to feedback that turns into circles and circles of back-and-forth conversation. What are useful comments and what are just discussions? Is there a different place to hold comments rather than github?
  • Rendering of roads has been the same since starting the project. Same colors, hierarchy, etc. One of the maintainers is trying to redesign and reimplement the road presentation in default OSM maps style.
  • The map key (which is viewable when expanded) hasn't been updated since 2009. Thinking about using Mapnik-Legendary
  • Non-latin text is pretty difficult. Currently many labels are completely wrong and are generated poorly. Going to use Mapnik3 + hstore to improve the text rendering to fix many of the bugs. There are 30+ issues that need a database reload

Check out the state of the map workshop "State of the Stylesheets" on Monday!

OSM Buildings

  • Started in 2012 and has been around for three years.
  • Using OSM buildings as a leaflet plugin. Check out the repo!
  • Uses the Overpass API to get the data, does server caching, attribute filtering, compression, and turns it all into GeoJSON
  • In 2013 the project incorporated multipolygons, cylinders, elevated objects, wall shading, and shadows so it started looking a lot more realistic
  • now working on a web GL version and providing free HD models

What can it do in the future?

  • create an urban playground so people can play with it
  • join forces on OSM in 3d
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