Annual General Meetings/2022/Chairperson’s report

From OpenStreetMap Foundation

Content copied from diary entry.

Dear OpenStreetMap Community, fellow mappers

It is my pleasure to present the annual report of the OpenStreetMap Foundation for the year 2022.

First and foremost, we have been thrilled to welcome Grant, our first employee. He has joined the OpenStreetMap Foundation as our senior SRE after many years of volunteering on the Operations Working Group, and we believe that his expertise and experience is a valuable asset to the OpenStreetMap Foundation. We now finally have someone with the both the time and experience to tackle the big infrastructure projects that will lead us to increased resiliency and stability.

If you would like to learn more about Grant and his work, you can listen to an interview with him on the geomob podcast.

The growth of the OpenStreetMap project isn’t slowing down. We recently passed 8 billion nodes, 900 million ways and 10 million relations. We will reach 10 million registered users in 2023.

As the OpenStreetMap project continues to grow, the workload for the Foundation’s volunteer board members has also increased. While we are thrilled to see the project’s success, it is important to acknowledge that this growth also comes with its challenges. In particular, the increased workload can be overwhelming at times, and it is not always easy or fun. This year has, counterintuively, been marked by a relative lack of activity from the Foundation’s board members. While this is not new or unique to the OpenStreetMap Foundation, several of our board members have experienced burnout and have taken a step back from their roles. The burden of board work can be heavy - you join because you think maps are fun, and you end up spending your free time knee-deep in finance, HR and legal matters.

Our finances, as the treasurer will outline, are in good health. To help accompany the challenges the project mentioned in our strategic plan outline, our work in 2023 will include an emphasis on increasing our fundraising efforts. By generating additional revenue, we hope to be able to provide more resources to match our success and growth, and support the Foundation goals of increasing the project’s stability and reliability, as well as resources for the broader OpenStreetMap community, including through our local chapters. Mikel, Roland and I, the three continuing board members, have attended a very interesting fundraising seminar by Aspiration Tech, who also facilitate the board’s yearly face-to-face weekends.

In the long term, I believe that the OpenStreetMap Foundation should have an executive director. They would be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Foundation, and would provide valuable support and guidance to the board members. This would allow the board to focus more on strategic planning and decision-making, rather than on operational tasks. It would also, like what happened when hiring Grant, let the OpenStreetMap Foundation tackle big projects such as fundraising, attribution, and dealing with the fallout from Brexit which keeps imposing high costs and complications on the OSMF. Our friends at OpenStreetMap US have shown that having an executive director can be a way of empowering the community.

We are pleased to report that the 2022 State of the Map conference was a great success. The conference, held in Florence, Italy, featured a wide range of interesting presentations and discussions, and brought together members of the OpenStreetMap community from around the world.

Unfortunately, we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel next year’s State of the Map conference. We understand that this decision will be disappointing to many members of the community, but the State of the Map working group believes it is the best thing to do to have an even better conference in 2024.

After a long period of community consultation, we have passed new Etiquette guidelines to provide a safe and positive community experience for all. While originally intended for the mailing lists, the guidelines have since been used by many communities on our new community forum. We have nominated a team of mailing list moderators, and they have also since agreed to moderate the community website.

We have revived the Engineering Working Group, and, for the first time, given it a budget. EWG started by asking Jochen Topf to write an interesting report on the future of the OpenStreetMap data model, and is now calling for bids to work on our website to add a mute feature.

Our work on takeover protection continues. We have recently decided, after a community survey, to only allow new members to join the OSMF if they have mapped a minimum number of days in their lifetime, ensuring skin in the game. It is hard to gauge the success of such things, and to take actions where the positive outweigh the negative. I expect that future boards will continue to discuss the question.

We have welcomed OSM Austria as a local chapter, and now have 18 local chapters, representing the diversity of mappers from every continent except Antarctica.

The board is growing in diversity, too: the candidates for the board election this year are from Asia, North America, Europe, South America and Africa, which I think is a record.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributes to OpenStreetMap: the mappers most of all, but also the working group volunteers, the programmers, the sysadmins, the cartographers, Martin and Harry who have done programming contracting work, and Dorothea and Michelle who support the board’s work.

Finally, I want to thank the outgoing board members for their service to the OpenStreetMap Foundation. Your hard work and dedication have been invaluable, and we are grateful for your contributions. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Happy mapping,

Guillaume Rischard

Chairperson, OpenStreetMap Foundation