Looking ahead – Important Topics For SOTM US 2012

I posted this message on behalf of the State Of The Map US 2012 Committee and the OpenStreetMap US Chapter Board out to several lists this morning:

Call for bids to host the second State Of The Map US Conference

The OpenStreetMap US Chapter is currently soliciting bids for 
hosting and organizing the State Of The Map US 2012 conference
(SOTMUS12), to be held in the second half of the year. We invite
you to put in a bid for SOTMUS12, considering the criteria
outlined on the OpenStreetMap wiki - see the links below.
The US Chapter board will work closely with the selected bid team
to make SOTMUS12 a success.
Please enter your bids as a sub-page on
The bid criteria are here:

The deadline for entering your bid is 31 January 2012. The winning
bid will be announced by the SOTMUS12 committee on 10 February 2012.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the bid
committee through Martijn van Exel, mvexel@gmail.com

We look forward to receiving your bids!

The SOTMUS12 bid committee and the OSM US Chapter

That means we are going to have another SOTM US this year! I could not be more excited and am looking forward to seeing the bids for hosting this wonderful event come in.

The first and last proper SOTM US was held in Atlanta in 2010. The ‘main’ SOTM conference was held in Denver last September, so there was no real need to host a separate SOTM US – but now we’re in 2012, so a new regional State Of The Map is called for. Off the top of my head I can identify three key challenges more or less specific to the US that I would personally love to see addressed at this conference:

  • Community Expansion – Although the US community has some really committed members who spend countless hours improving the US map, we need to think about expanding the community. First and foremost, we need many more local communities and thus more local community leaders. There are still major cities without a real OSM community (people getting together, organizing local events) and it is my belief that without that, you will never get the best map there can be. Second, we need to find ways to leverage more casual mapping. This is a global challenge for OpenStreetMap, but particularly in the US, where we lean so heavily on imported data, there is lots of room for microtasking and single-purpose editing tools to allow people who don’t want to invest a huge amount of time in learning new skills to contribute by fixing small things.
  • Corporate Interest – Early corporate adopters of OpenStreetMap data in the US – CloudMade, MapQuest, Microsoft – have all contributed back to the community in awesome ways – with community support, sponsoring, free tools, data mirrors, aerial imagery and lots more. 2012 may very well see more corporate interest. How is OpenStreetMap going to channel that interest and ensure that we will continue to keep that spirit of mutual benefit alive? What can we, as the OpenStreetMap community, do to accommodate large scale data consumers? Is it our job to do that? SOTM US will be a great place to address those questions.
  • Government Collaborations – With pretty much all US government produced data being in the public domain, there is a certain self-evidence to the mutual relevance between OpenStreetMap and US governmental institutions tasked with maintaining geospatial data. The USGS has extensive experience with crowdsourcing techniques and have been working with OpenStreetMap for some time now. With the government budget situation being as it is (do I hear someone mention Iowa?), I expect an increasing number of government agencies will start looking into crowdsourcing as a way to keep up with changes in the real world. Collaborating with OpenStreetMap would be a good way for them to jumpstart crowdsourcing initiatives, but there are many open questions around authoritativeness and licensing. Again, State Of The Map would be an excellent platform to discuss them.

I am just scratching the surface with these three topics. I am sure that we will see a varied an interesting program that will attract community members, techies, delegates from (mapping) companies, academia and government alike, and I hope that you will be among them at SOTM US 2012 – wherever it will turn out to be!

Happy bidding!