Coordinating improved communication between the academic and

OpenStreetMap communities


Peter Mooney (Ireland)

Joost Schouppe (Belgium)

Frank Ostermann (The Netherlands)

What are we going to talk about this morning?

  • X = Translate Science needs for OSM
  • Y = Translate OSM needs for Science
  • See where X intersection Y lies and try to build co-created research

  • Welcoming scientists, Welcoming OSM
  • Actually HOW this can happen?

Timeline of this idea

  • April 2017 - "Crowdsourcing in National Mapping" Workshop, Leuven, Belgium
  • Summer 2017 - Skype calls between Frank, Joost and Peter
  • August 2017 - OSM Science Mailing List
  • August 2017 - OSM Blog Post
  • Jan/Feb 2018 - Submission to SOTM 2018
  • Summer 2018 - SOTM 2018 - Academic Track

Based on our collective observations as academics, OSM contributors, and users of OSM data, there is much room for improvement in the interactions between the academic research and OSM communities.

There are two sides to this story.

On one side the OSM community often learns only very late (or sometimes never) about research results generated from academic research on OSM itself.



On the other side academic research community has often little information, or understanding, on what the most important research and scientific concerns for the OSM community actually are.



(1) How to improve communication structurally and in a sustainable way between both the OSM Community and the Scientific Community;


(2) How we can move forward and enable co-created research?


A new way foward


X = Translate Science needs for OSM

Translate science needs to OSM

  • Increasing scientific interest in OpenStreetMap (aspects such as mapping processes, quality, coverage, mapper demographics etc)
  • Scientists need to publish their research work (this is the hard currency of academia)
  • Scientists are interested in VGI (including OSM) - they formulate their research problems around what they perceive as 'the gaps/issues' in VGI (and OSM)
  • Scientific perceptions might not always be: useful to the OSM community, an accurate reflection of how OSM works, or reproducible to other aspects of OSM

Translate science results to OSM

  • Scientific papers have a different target audience (use of jargon, "boring" background, application opportunities often implicit not explicit)
  • Scientific output often inaccessible (difficult to find for non-academics, hidden behind paywalls)
  • Scientific merit difficult to judge (there are some dubious journals and publications out there - how to distinguish the quality ones?

Who can and will do the translation from "academic mumble-jumble" to results useful for the OSM community? 

Haklay (2011 - SOTM)


'Rules' for Academics working with OSM

Rule 1: do some mapping
Rule 2: read (books, wiki, blog, mailing lists)
Rule 3: explore the data, then talk with someone in the community to check that you've got it right!
Rule 4: put outputs in open access
Rule 5: publish and share data you have processed
Rule 6: be a "critical friend" to OSM
Rule 7: teach

Y = Translate OSM needs for Science

Mailing List Generated Suggestions - Aug 2017 (1)

  • Study saturation effects and maintenance problems in well mapped areas. Estimate if there is further improvement either semantically or in geometric accuracy and on what factors this all depends [imagico]
  • Building an universal up-to-date quality 3D map. The low altitude oblique aerial photography technology is developing very fast and is getting affordable but it is barely used in the OSM.  [Alex-7]
  • Research Wiki Page: researcher are looking forward to release their paper and don't share the infos; mappers want to contribute geodata but not maintain / cleanup wikipages, contact researchers or follow the scientific magazines. Difficult to follow all channels [ !i! ]


Mailing List Generated Suggestions - Aug 2017 (2)

  • Make the academic research page more welcoming, Academics to promote OSM as 'required reading' [LivingWithDragons]
  • Develop a review and fact check mechanism for scientific publications on OSM  [Frederick Ramm]
  • Get members of the OSM community into the peer review process of scientific publications related to OSM.  This would allow competent review and fact checking of publications beforehand. [imagico]


Research on the OSMWiki


Welcoming for academics .... but citizens?

Our proposal: A survey of research needs, interests, issues, etc from the OSM and Academic community


Github-based planning?


Who is going to "do stuff"?

Who will be involved in building this coordination to work on suggestions in the survey?

How do we "do stuff"?

How do we build this coordination to act on suggestions in the survey?

And we close with ....

audience participation time!