We would like to thank all our readers, across the nine different language versions of the newsletter, who show their appreciation of our work through their interest and feedback. This gives the editors confirmation that we are doing many things right, providing the OSM community with the most important new information we observed.Mapping and celestial observation have always been sisters. As civilisations across the earth are about to celebrate the winter solstice in many different ways, we wish all our readers, their families and their friends a peaceful and contemplative holiday. We hope that the next issue will be published just in time for 2020 (as you know, the editors don’t have any holidays or vacations, so if you would also like to participate, please contact us 😉 ).
Rebecca Firth tweeted a graphic suggesting steps in a five-stage process of adding detail on OpenStreetMap. The steps reflect typical HOT projects and, as suggested in the comments, there are likely to be similar steps but with different emphasis in other OSM activities.
Kevin Bullock, of Maxar, announced in an OSM diary entry that Maxar background imagery for OSM is being taken off-line. There have been a number of cases which suggest that access to this imagery is being abused. Maxar are working with the developers of at least one map editor to improve security. Comments provide links to various technical discussions on this point.
The OpenStreetCam and ImproveOSM platforms are moving to Grab following a new partnership with Telenav. Grab, a Singapore-based ride-hailing company is an OSMF corporate member. Their remote mapping team work on missing roads in South-east Asia. In the past this has led to some mapping quality issues and their subcontractor GlobalLogic, caused controversy with an orchestrated signup of 100 employees to OSMF in 2018.
Valeriy Trubin continues his series of interviews with OSM contributors. He talked to SviMik (automatic translation) from Estonia about mass imports and to wowik (automatic translation) from Russia about validators.
Ilya Zverev wrote (automatic translation) a rather sad note about the future of OSM. In short, he says that if nothing changes within 2 to 3 years the project will die. In his blog post he names the lack of control over areas such as tagging, the website, development resources and the licence as causes.
The OSM Turkey community arranged its first Mappy-Weekend, focusing on Trabzon and Rize cities in the Black Sea Region, with participation of Yer Çizenler (automatic translation), KTU Mapping Software and Technologies Student Society and Mapeado Colaborativo (automatic translation) on 14 and 15 December. The event’s details were shared on the wiki page (automatic translation).
In 2020 Germany will outlaw (automatic translation) apps that warn users of speed cameras. The message sparked a lengthy discussion (automatic translation) in the German forum about the extent of the regulation and the legality of OSM-related apps such as OsmAnd with such functionality.
Eugene Alvin Villar, who has been contributing to Wikipedia since 2002 and to OSM since 2007, posted a blog entry about how he held talks with Edward Betts about Wikidata+OSM at the State of the Map 2019 in Heidelberg and WikidataCon 2019 in Berlin. He links to the presentations held at the two conferences and explains why he thinks OSM and Wikidata should be linked together.
Frederik Ramm, outgoing treasurer of the OpenStreetMap Foundation, released the Treasurer’s Report for the December 2019 annual general meeting of the OSMF.
Christoph Hormann wrote a brilliant analysis of the OSMF board elections. A must read!
In his user blog, Frederik Ramm calls for an end to “leadership nonsense”. OSM is a project of hobbyists, makers and activists. Demanding management experience for the OSMF board does not benefit diversity efforts.
Ilya Zverev wrote a blog post provocatively titled “OWG Must Be Destroyed”, in which he outlines the problems he sees with the Operations Working Group. In the comment thread, Andy Allan suggests that readers who want a more practical set of suggestions, from a former OWG member, could read his ideas. The criticism isn’t new. Over five years ago, Ed Freyfogle pointed to organisational deficits and reported that he’d been told: “if you want to contribute as a sysadmin and get into the tech details you need to live in London and go to the pub with those guys.”
Heather Leson laments, in a diary entry, the absence of women or people from the global South on the new OSMF board. She makes some suggestions as to how this might be remedied in the future.
Manfred Reiter calls in his user blog (automatic translation) to return to the facts in the diversity discussion, to moderate the tone of voice and to carry out a thorough basic investigation with academic participation.
After the State of the Map comes the preparations for the next State of the Map. It will be held 3 to 5 July 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. You can find initial information on the conference website and OSM wiki.
The second State of the Map Baltics after 2013 will take place place in Riga, Latvia, on 6 March 2020. As Ilya Zverev announced, the conference language will be English.
The FOSSGIS 2020 (automatic translation), Germany’s main conference on free and open geosoftware and OSM is scheduled for 11 to 14 March 2020 in Freiburg. The last day, which is traditionally called “OSM Saturday” (automatic translation), will offer many talks and meetings about OSM-related topics.
The HOT Blog shows six ways by which life and survival in problematic areas of the world can be improved through better maps. Support is provided through the current fundraising projects. Donations are requested.
“What we Learnt from Mapping African Megacity Dar es Salaam” – a blog post by Hawa Adinani (HOT).
Felix Delattre invited people to sign up if they wanted to help test Tasking Manager 4. Testing will take place in three phases between now and 8 Febuary.
Andreas Binder introduced his winter layer, which displays winter hiking trails, snowshoe trails, ski tours, cross-country trails and many more.
Hidde Wieringa posted a detailed guide on how to create a cycling map with open data. The toolchain involves Mapnik, PostgreSQL with PostGIS extension, Python and GDAL and makes use of OSM and SRTM elevation data. The scripts he used are available on GitHub.
 A new website, OpenStreetMap Haiku, is an online poem generator created by Satellite Studio. The geo-fueled generator uses a map location and OpenStreetMap data to create randomised haikus using a database of coordinate-dependent words.
The company Targomo launched a tool to visualise POIs. The purpose isn’t to provide another POI map but to provide an API that allows you to find distribution patterns for better knowledge about people’s movements, local preferences and urban planning.
According to the Telegram channel “Urban data” (automatic translation), Russian programmer Ilya Aralin created a map of cottage villages around Moscow (Russia). There are several layers of data: transport, ecology, shops. On this map villages are marked with different colors: blue – good conditions for life, red – bad conditions. Unfortunately, the OSM attribution is not properly specified.
Hacker News discusses the “new look” switch2osm.org. Since that discussion a number of issues have been addressed, and further contributions are welcome.
GoldenCheetah, a data analysis tool for power meters (mainly cycling computers) is gradually switching from Google to OSM. There are currently several candidates for release 3.5. The release is expected in early 2020.
Alex Wellerstein describes his experiences with using Google Maps for his NUKEMAP. A lack of support, stagnating API, and a pricing model that is “insane and punishing if you are an educational web developer that builds anything that people actually find useful” made the decision to move to MapBox’s service and OpenStreetMap data an easy one.
The newly founded, Swiss based NGO European Water Project, which aims to reduce waste, has written instructions for adding new drinking fountains to OSM and asks for help with it. The NGO wants to make use of the fountain data with a Progressive Web Application that they are developing, which will allow users to refill water bottles.
How to distinguish terms like “Open” Data (including OSM), “Open” Source and “Open” Standards is explained quite precisely with many links in an article at GeoSpatial World.
Leaflet is probably the most widely used library for displaying maps, but a recent thread on Hacker News is a useful reminder of all the features which have been added to OpenLayers in the recent past. Noteworthy is mourner, Leaflet’s developer, explaining differences between Leaflet and OpenLayers.
Richard Fairhurst explains how he achieved a substantial performance improvement in rendering tiles using Mapnik for cycle.travel. The key trick is to avoid compositing terrain (hill shading etc) on the fly.
Abdishakur wrote a guide on how to use OSMnx to access OpenStreetMap data with Python using Google Colab.
Did you know …
… about the Wikimedia Commons mobile app (Android only) with which you can quickly upload pictures to Wikipedia Commons? OSM is used as a basemap.
… about OpenSeaMap? OpenSeaMap is an open source project aiming to create a free nautical chart of the world.
… about the MapTourist (translation) website, where daily maps from OpenStreetMap data for Garmin navigation devices and apps are published?
… OSMHydrant, a Leaflet map that shows all hydrants on OSM? More and more fire brigades are using this map. It is available in 11 languages.
… that many cities in the world have real-time public transport maps based on OSM? For example, Tallinn (Estonia), Saransk (Russia) and Murmansk (Russia).
… that there are more than 1.5 million objects with a “fixme” tag? Maybe you can have a look and fix some in your vicinity? You can use Overpass-Turbo to find them.
Other “geo” things
According to a blog entry, there are now one billion images on the Mapillary platform, all open and freely available for mapping in OpenStreetMap. The 500,000,000 mark was passed eight months ago.
Almost one million Romanian citizens from outside of Romania voted during the second round of the Romanian presidential elections in November 2019. Giorgio Comai used OSRM to work out how best Romanian voters in Italy could reach a polling station.
The Google Blog explains how they use various sorts of imagery (including street-level imagery), to create the maps available via Google Maps.
Google Maps are testing a new feature for identifying well-lit areas, which in turn may be used for finding routes perceived to be safer.
Martin Dobiasa, a core QGIS developer, talks about new QGIS 3D capabilities and future plans for QGIS 3D.
Not so long ago we wrote about an eagle who flew too far and drove Russian scientists into debt because of roaming charges. On this website you can watch how these eagles are flying around the world.
Ryan Morrison wrote on the Daily Mail Online that scientists have created “the most precise map yet” of the land underneath Antarctica’s ice sheet, to help them predict the impact of climate change on the continent.
At the end of November in Moscow (Russia) “Moscow Central Diameters” (a system of surface railway transport) was launched. “Let’s bike it”, the Russian movement for the rights of cyclists, analysed the scheme of train movement and created a map (automatic translation) of railway crossings. Most of them are inconvenient and unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists.