The MapRoulette Blog

State of the Map 2021 Report: A Global Community, and Task-Based Editing is hot!

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State of the Map, the OpenStreetMap conference, just wrapped up yesterday in its second online year. It was, as always, an exciting opportunity for the community and data users to connect and exchange ideas and new developments from the OpenStreetMap world.

If I had to point out one single highlight, it would have to be the representation of OSM community members from around the globe. I met people from The Philippines to Brazil and from Kenya to Russia. The online format is an equalizer, whether you have the means and time to travel or not, if you can connect to the internet, you could be there. Registration was free as well.

Plenty of interesting developments are happening in the “Task” space that MapRoulette also occupies. I was really excited to learn more about MapComplete, an application that lets you create thematic OSM maps that anyone can contribute to with a few clicks. MapComplete creator Pieter Vander Vennet presented the latest developments and hosted a workshop about creating your own themes from a hospital bed! (He broke his hip in, I think, a skateboarding accident and is doing well.) MapComplete has seen a lot of interest not just from OSM Mappers, but also governments and other organizations who are interested in improving specific POI layers in OSM.

Screenshot of the MapComplete application

StreetComplete is another fantastic task-based OSM application. It is an Android app that lets you improve and add OSM data when out in the field. It makes optimal use of the ‘Eyes on the Ground’, so it is a perfect complement to ‘Armchair’ tools like MapComplete and MapRoulette. StreetComplete has improved tremendously in the past year, helped by funding from NLNet and the OSMF Microgrant program. StreetComplete creator Tobias Zwick presented on how StreetComplete handles edits. Sadly his talk happened at the same time as the MapRoulette workshop I’ll talk about in just a minute, but once all talk recordings are published I will catch up.

StreetComplete screenshot

StreetComplete also came up in a Birds of a Feather session hosted by Ilya Zverev (notes) that focused on mobile editors for non-experts. I was there for part of it, and among other things there was a really interesting discussion about the merits of taking photos to help improve OSM. I have been thinking about adding a “Photo” Challenge type to MapRoulette that would create tasks from user-submitted photos. This could either be to classify photos (is it of opening hours? A storefront? A road?) or to actually edit the map based on the photo’s content.

I was happy to see MapRoulette mentioned in quite a few talks. For example in the update Laura Mugeha gave us about growing the community in Kenya. MapRoulette appears in the training materials she and the Kenya community developed to educate new mappers. This inspired me to submit a talk or workshop about MapRoulette for State of the Map Africa, which will also be online and held later this year. Fortunately the call for submissions is still open until July 20.

Finally, I hosted a workshop session about creating cooperative and tag-fix Challenges for MapRoulette. It was not recorded by the organization (none of the workshops were as far as I know) but I recorded it myself 🙂 and have already published it on YouTube. It is almost an hour long but really worth it if you want to get into creating these special types of MapRoulette Challenges that can help tremendously with “Manual Import” organized activities in OSM.

The MapRoulette SOTM 2021 workshop recording

I received some really positive feedback on the workshop and I can’t wait to see new Cooperative and Tag-Fix Challenges the community comes up with!

To conclude, I had a fantastic time overall connecting and reconnecting with other mappers and learning so much about this topic but also so many other things that are going on in the community! I hope next year we can all connect in person again.