OpenStreetMap US 2020 Board Election — My Answers to Community Questions

I am running for the OpenStreetMap US Board this year. I previously occupied a seat on this board from 2011 to 2016, then stepped down to focus on the OpenStreetMap Foundation board to which I had been elected. I served on the OSMF board for three years, but decided to step down in late 2018. Since then, I have stayed involved with OpenStreetMap US as a local organizer of OpenStreetMap Salt Lake City, and as the chair of the State of the Map Program Committee.

Last year, I changed jobs, from a very OSM-centric role at Telenav to a really interesting but not OSM-centric new role at TomTom. This change led me to reconsider how I want to be involved with OSM in the future. My candidacy for the OSM US board should give you an idea of what the outcome is.

The community had the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates until January 30. A handful of questions were submitted—some by me, aimed specifically at current board members seeking re-election—and with the elections starting today it’s high time I provided some answers! (I left out my own questions, since I am not running for re-election.)

Do you think OSM-US should pursue becoming a Local Chapter officially recognized by the OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF)?

Short answer: yes.

Longer answer: I think OSM US has always been operated at the forefront of innovation in OSM—organizing increasingly ambitious annual conferences, encouraging nourishing and constructive community dialog with modern platforms, moderation, and a code of conduct. The most recent example OSM US set was hiring an Executive Director. We can and should disseminate these innovations to peer Local Chapters, and learn from them as well. When on the OSMF board, I worked on creating a platform for Local Chapters to have these interactions, and actively pursued signing on more Local Chapters (Germany, Italy, Belgium, Ireland). We also need to keep working on building a formal and closer relationship with the OSMF. Becoming a Local Chapter is not a silver bullet, but will help with these things, and apart from that, as one of the more prominent local communities we should be setting an example.

Do you support the proposed amendment to the OpenStreetMap-US Bylaws?

There should be limits to the amount of consecutive terms a board member can serve, and a term should be longer than one year. Two years is a good length, it gives the board member time to really follow through on their stated objectives. Board members should be able to stand for re-election once. After that, a cooling-off period of one term would be in order. As far as I can tell, this mostly aligns with the amendment put forward by the current Board.

If elected, would you be willing to serve as Treasurer?

It’s not my favorite role but I’d consider it. If I remember correctly, a lot of the day-to-day work to do with organization finances is done by an external accountant already. I am in favor of outsourcing as much non-strategic work as possible.

In the last year, how active have you been in the OSM community? What efforts have you made to support and/or grow OpenStreetMap in the US?

As mentioned in the intro, I’ve been chair of the Program Committee for SOTM US, and part of the overall conference organization team. I have continued to run OSM Salt Lake City, hosting two meetings a month on average. While at Telenav, I ran the OpenStreetMap camera lending program for the OSM US community. I did a keynote on OpenStreetMap on GIS day. I tirelessly promote MapRoulette and encourage mappers to create and solve tasks—about half of MapRoulette website traffic originates in the US. I am active on Slack.

The OSM US website could use some refreshing, show our mission and goals and list our sponsors. Even incorporate a vector tile slippy map. Who wants to step up with a plan?

While not in my list of priorities, I think a web site refresh would be nice. What *is* in my list of priorities is forming special interest groups, and one for communications, social media or even just the web site makes a lot of sense to me. While the board could provide valuable input, I’d prefer to empower the SIG with the budget and freedom to come up with a plan to present to the board, and execute it. They could decide to use the budget in whatever way they see fit, for example to hire someone to design / develop the site.

What is your “elevator pitch” (short, quick description) when someone asks: “What is Open Street Map? Why would I use it while Google/Bing/Apple Maps exists?”

OpenStreetMap is the free map of the world created by a global community of over a million people like you and me. You can use it for anything you want, the map is easy to edit, and OpenStreetMap is the only map that puts you in control. OpenStreetMap is used by some of the largest tech companies in the world, such as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Snapchat and Mapbox.

Published by Martijn van Exel

Geospatial omnivore. OpenStreetMap - Open Data

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: