Foundation/2010 Planning

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This page was started by Nickb to be a place to pull together plans for the Foundation up to 2010. I've tried my best to assimilate the different views I've heard about. If you disagree - this is the place to do it. Please add comments, use the discussion page or get in touch with me directly. All of my details are on my user page

Where are we going

Here are the hard facts and figures on where we can be by the end of 2010: Not sure how you can suggest that this level of projected growth is a hard fact? StevenFeldman--Stevenfeldman 18:44, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

  • Total number of OSM users worldwide: 650,000
  • Active mappers: 92,000
  • Active mappers as % of community: 14%
  • OSM-F members:13,000
  • OSM-F members as % of community: 2%
  • OSM-F Staff: 3 Full time staff members, 2 part-time
  • Local chapters active in 25 countries around the world: UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Estonia, Ukraine, Russia, US, Canada + 7 other countries
  • Total number of local chapters: 35
  • Sounds good if you can be confident that we will have 35 local chapters within 12 months. Can you publish the backgound information on which this is based? I notice that the Local Chapters page has 4 proposed chapters (06 Aug 09). I also note that there are no minutes published for the Local Chapter's Working group on the Foundation website[1]. PeterIto 09:59, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

What should the Foundation focus on?

Is this NickB's personal opinion or is there a documented decision by the OSMF board about things like hiring staff? Also: Some OSMF members have pointed out that by its statues, OSMF is not limited to support OSM, it should support any free mapping efforts. Either this needs to be taken seriously or the statues changed. --Frederik Ramm 20:23, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
This is my (nickb opinion about what the community want. Its here to be discussed and debated --Nick 07:33, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

There are several areas that the OSM-Foundation needs to focus on in 2009 - 2010 in order to grown and support the OSM community:

  • Supporting the growth and development of OSM, throughout the world
    • Set up local chapters & grow the OSM-F membership
    • Secure Fundraising
    • Hire Staff
  • Helping improve the experience of OSMers
    • Better communication from the Foundation
    • Support for a better user experience in OSM

What does the Foundation Look like?

The Foundation should retain its Board structure. The seven person board, with three year election terms and a chairman elected by the board, with the backing of the OSM-F membership. Working groups, made up of OSM Foundation Members or invited specialists (legal experts for example) should each by chaired by a Foundation Board members. The working groups should take a more hands on approach to Foundation business, getting involved with the nitty-gritty of data imports, disputes, organising conferences and so on. The Local Chapters report to the Board via monthly Board meetings.

Under the board there should be an executive team made up of paid professionals - their job is to execute a plan laid out by the Board, created and maintained in consultation with the community. The executive team members should act as a resource to the Board and the Working Groups. They will each report to the Board via monthly board meetings, or more regularly depending on the urgency of the matters they are working on. By the end of 2010, the executive team could consist of the following rolls, full or part-time:

  • A president or director - whatever the title, this is the person with ultimate responsibility. He or she is in charge of carrying out the plan developed by the Board.
  • Webmaster - someone who takes complete charge of the Foundation's web properties (not Their roll could involve development, maintenance or dealing with volunteers or contractors who want to work on Foundation web properties.
I don't understand the need for a paid webmaster - unless the Foundation is planning a truly massive expansion of it's "web properties" then this makes no sense. Especially when you've excluded the biggest property of all. If any site is going to need paid admins in the near future it's not the Foundation site! --TomH 22:23, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Its something I've been mulling over a lot. I should have made it more clear that these positions could be part time - even just a couple of days a week. The reason I think a webmaster is needed is that we need a total overhaul of the Foundation website. The wordpress site is not working - its hard to find information, its clunky and just not fit for purpose. The foundation site should act as a central resource for everything the Foundation provides - details about Foundation projects, details about working groups, an easy to follow sign up procedure, a place to buy OSM merchandising, resources like flyers, posters and other things that can be used to promote and support OSM. We also need a well integrated membership system, that lets people sign up and make payments on the site and lets the Foundation administer and track memberships. Maybe this is more of a one-off job. I'm not wedded to the idea of a full time webmaster, but there's a lot of work that needs doing. --Nick 07:42, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
I realised you were talking about part time, but even a couple of days a week is an awful lot on an ongoing basis. I don't disagree that right now it may need a lot of work but once things like a membership system are built they shouldn't need a lot of ongoing work. So rather than two days a week permanently you probably need somebody to work full time for a month or two and then just a few hours here and there - getting the work done on a contract basis rather than an employed staffer basis would seem to be sensible. --TomH 08:03, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
Ummm, the spreadsheet shows £52K a year for the webmaster. Personally I see no benefit to having a larger foundation website and I have been working hard over the past 12 months on the Wiki which seems to be the right place to focus effort and would encourage others to do likewise. PeterIto 09:59, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Fundraiser - professional fundraisers work for non-profit organisations and co-ordinate all of their fundraising activities. They are an essential part of the team that will be able to deliver funding to the Foundation
  • Accountant - someone to keep the accounts in line. This is currently carried out by the Foundation's Treasurer. Bringing on a part time accountant would free up time for Board members to focus on more long term issues, like financial planning.
I have doubts about employing so many people. This will only lead to OSMF becoming a busybody - with all these resources, why don't we do X, Y, and Z. I'd rather not see OSMF gobble up all kinds of tasks and appoint paid staff to do them, but instead I'd like OSMF to work very hard on what the essence of the job is and then do only that and not one inch more. Of course, if you first make a very broad definition of what OSMF should do then in the end you have to spend money to hire people. I'd like OSMF to remain lean and mean, and simply not do anything non-essential. If you don't hire a president then you won't need a fundraiser to raise funds to pay for them. An accountant can be contracted if you are a small organisation. And neither will you need a webmaster dealing with contractors working on foundation web properties if you remain small. Small is beautiful. What you suggest above sounds bloated to me. --Frederik Ramm 20:33, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Firstly, thank you Nick for putting up this proposal, it is certainly useful to discuss the vision for the coming year at this time. I agree with the increasing emphasis on working groups. Commenting on the details for a moment. Firstly I can't see why we need a president or what they would do and worry about what they would cost. Equally I don't know why a full-time webmaster for the foundation website is required, we have a good project wiki and a little support for that would go a long way. Regarding the 'Fund-raiser' the only good approach is for the core team to come up with a sound business-case and then present this well to the community and to various appropriate grant-giving funds who I can recommend from personal experience. Regarding the Accountant, I suggest that we need a part-time book-keeper and then an accountant to check the books at the end of the year and provide advice through the year. I don't know what the costs in Nick's proposals add up to, but I would recommend a budget of no more than £50K - £100K for the coming year which would be in-line with other emerging new non-for profit organisations. In my opinion a 'fund-raiser' would not be useful. PeterIto 08:18, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
  • I suggest we need a budget for the following areas Operations, Legal, Communications, Finance/Administration. The Operations budget should be drawn up by the Technical Working Group, the Legal budget by the Legal Working group (current called 'licensing'). The 'Communications and promotion' plan and budget should be prepared by the communications working group. That leaves the finance/admin/fund-raising work which possibly needs its own working group. PeterIto 08:18, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
  1. Operations - running the main openstreetmap service, the OSM wiki, the email lists (and the foundation website) etc. Budget to include costs relating to servers and support - this should be prepared by Technical Working Group with input from the board.
  2. Legal - I suggest we need to retain an IPR 'lawyer' to support the legal integrity of the dataset. This person should be available for a fixed number of hours a month at an agreed rate, probably reduced from full commercial rates but possibly not free (pro bono). I suggest the licensing working group is renamed as the 'legal' working group and prepares a budget for this area with input from the board.
  3. Finance/Administration. A part-time administrator/book-keeper who could help set up meetings, ensure bills get paid etc with the support of an accountant to does the accounts. I suggest we need an administration/finance working group to support this. We urgently need a working group to cover this area.
  4. Communications. The Communications Working Group should be asked to produce a plan (with costs) for the year. PeterIto 08:18, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

How much will all this cost?

I have done some very basic modeling of the costs associated with these hires here (you might need to be logged into a Google account to open this, but it does not have to be an OSM-F account)

This document seems to be locked down to Foundation board members... --TomH 22:24, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Should be fixed now--Nick 07:32, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
There's something wrong with the maths - the total row is clearly not correct --TomH 07:59, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
I really think that such a major error in the calculations should be corrected fast. Personally I am waiting for a firm figure for the proposed annual costs which I suspect these will be unrealistically large for a young organisation even if it was beneficial, about which I also remain to be convinced. Sorry about that, but this whole proposal seems to be over-inflated and doesn't seem to be properly grounded in the needs of the community. PeterIto 09:47, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

What do we need to do to get there?

Supporting the growth and development of OSM, throughout the world

Set Up Local Chapters

We've made some great progress with Local Chapters over the past 12 months, but progress has not been fast enough. Here is a proposed timetable for getting Local Chapters back on track:

  • Aug - Sep 2009 - Get a preliminary agreement in place with the local chapters who are ready to go (eg Spain, Italy, France, UK, US) to allow early Chapters to set up.
  • Aug - Sep 2009 - Set up an intense consultation period with 10 potential Local Chapter leaders and the Local Chapters working group. The aims of this period will be:
    • Establish if one agreement will work for all chapters or if we need custom agreements for different the chapters
    • Reach a consensus of opinion amongst the group and either publish a final draft OR a final set of guidelines for how a custom agreement is reached, establishing the process for setting up a Local Chapter.
  • Oct - Dec - 2009 - Support the set up of 15 more local Chapters

With Local Chapters set up, the OSM-F will be able to effectively support the work of OSMers throughout the world. We can set up outreach programs, make agreements with schools and universities that can use OSM data, provide support for mappers from less developed countries, increase the amount of publicity that OSM gets through co-ordinated outreach programs that put OSM onto the TVs, newspapers and blogs of the world.

Thanks for publishing this Nick. Can you add the above information to the Local Chapter's wiki page? Would it also be appropriate to have a local chapters email list to discuss this stuff and help come to a consensus? Personally I think it is important that the local chapters only aim to do the things that the community can't do by itself - fund-raising and talking to governments etc. PeterIto 11:29, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

Growing the OSM-F Membership

There are currently 145 members of the OSM-Foundation. That's just 0.08% of the overall number of OSMers in the world. In order to be a healthy, democratic organisation, the OSM-F needs to grow its membership. By the end of 2010 the Foundation should aim to have 13,000 members throughout the world. This is a large number, but its totally achievable. There are more details about the growth we need on this sheet

I am deeply troubled by this. Growing by 6500% in 15 months sounds anything other than healthy to me. I do not believe in the argument that this is required for a healthy, democratic organisation (au contraire - a large number of members without an established democratic culture in the organisation will only lead to apathy, and it becomes very difficult for members to exert any kind of control). I believe these figures stem only from the desire to hire lots of people which costs lots of money which requires a steady funding source. Cut the lofty "paid staff" plans and you can grow OSMF in a healthy fashion instead of strapping a jetpack onto a turtle. --Frederik Ramm 08:07, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Clearly defining and communicating the benefits of OSM-Foundation membership
  • Making OSM-F members know how valued they are
  • Making it as hassle free as possible to join the OSM-Foundation and renew membership
  • Setting up Local Chapters to support Foundation members in different countries

Hire Staff and Secure Fundraising

The OSM-F today is held back by the limitations of what volunteers can do in their spare time. Many OSM-F people spend 5-10 or more, hours per week working on OSM related matters. With limited bandwidth and an ever increasing amount to do, things naturally get dropped. At a recent OSM-Foundation Board meeting, we went through all of the functions we felt the Foundation should be doing, noting down how well they were being done now and the potential for a community solution. The OSM community do an amazing job at a lot of things - we need to make sure that staff we hire into the Foundation support the work of volunteers and do not replace it. The summary is that technical operations - looking after the websites and APIs is being done very well. On the other hand, functions relating to outreach and communications are being done poorly. The Foundation's website is very poor, there is little support from the Foundation for co-ordinated outreach and there is no overall strategy for any of these things. Whilst the core technology behind OSM works well, the user experience of OSM websites and tools leaves a lot to be desired. A common cause of users leaving OSM is frustration with the toolset. All of these issues need to be addressed.

Staff should be hired with the express purpose of supporting the goals of the community and should be directed at the areas of work that are either the most critical or will deliver the most value. I have a strong preference for the latter. I think a staffing timeline should look like this:

  • Aug 09 - Discussion of the needs / rolls of staff within the Foundation
  • Aug 09 - Investigation into community fundraising. How do Fundraising professionals work? How much do they raise? What do they cost?
  • Sep 09 - Community approval of a job description for a Foundation Fundraiser
  • Oct 09 - Dec 09 - Fundraiser is hired to work for the OSM-F. First funds arrive.
  • Jan - Mar 10 - President/Director hired to take executive leadership of the Foundation staff team
  • Jan- Mar 10 - Administrator hired to assist general Foundation admin
  • Jan - Mar 10 - Part time accountant hired
  • Apr - Jun 10 - Part time webmaster hired to lead redevelopment of the Foundation websites

Helping improve the experience of OSMers

Better User Experiences for OSM Apps and Websites

OSM needs to adapt its user experience to users of the future. The next 900,000 mappers are less willing to trawl through poorly ogranised documentation, put up with buggy tools and interfaces and generally hack their way around the site. They are not programmers - they are people who are very confident using computers, they spend more time than average using social networks like Facebook of LinkedIn and they have 1000s of followers on Twitter. They have a top end mobile phone - an iPhone, a Nokia N-series, an Android phone. They want an OSM that is more like the other web apps they use - quick and intuitive the learn with quick feedback loops. They want to use their phone to edit OSM, in fact, they want to use the maps app on their phone to edit the OSM map.

I'd be astonished if that is an accurate description of the next 900,000 mappers - it sounds more like the current mappers and the sort of person that we will need to expand beyond if we are to continue growing --TomH 22:27, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
What an exclusionary and elitist view of who might want to use OSM. No third-world users; no people without computers; no old people; no people with mobiles not running Java; no people who don't use twitter. In fact, no poor people at all. Not a vision I would want to support. SK53 10:05, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

To help support better user experiences, the Foundation needs to support extensive user testing that can be used to aid development. The Foundation should not lay down the law to developers and demand they use the right shade of blue. Instead OSM developers who want support from user experience experts should be able to get that support. There is a stub page that lays out some ideas for a user experience working group here

As much as I'm sure the developers will appreciate being taught to suck eggs our problem is not a lack of ideas on how to improve things, it's finding people to implement them. We have quite enough people already busy telling us "you should do..." without adding more to the mix --TomH 22:37, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
No one is criticising the work being done by OSM developers at the moment, but the facts of the matter are that OSM has significant user interface issues that block the effective use of the site by a lot of people. I'm from a background where you start the whole process of building a product by thinking about what the user wants and designing the interface. I'd at least like to ask design oriented questions of OpenStreetMap and give current OSM users the chance to have their say --Nick 07:47, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
Nonetheless Tom's point holds true. It's not a lack of ideas stopping Potlatch, for example, getting friendlier; nor is it a belief that the way it does it now can't be improved. Far from it. Rather, it's lack of time and of other developers. A big shopping list of "you should do this/you should do that" won't fix that at all: I already have such a list in my head.
I still remain saddened that CM could have helped with the "other developers" issue, simply by making Mapzen's licence compatible with the one Potlatch has had for over two years, but chose not to. --Richard 08:24, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

Better Experiences for OSM Foundation Members

OSM Foundation members do not have a great user experience. From sign-up to membership renewal - the OSM-F membership process fall short of the high standards you'd find from most other websites. There are lot of low hanging fruit that we can attack, for example:

  • Revise login pages so that it is clear what people are signing up for and how they can do
  • Automate the process of sending new OSM-F members a welcome email, as soon as they sign up
  • Automate the process of renewing OSM-F membership, sending an email to automatically remind members that their membership is coming to an end
  • Send out monthly membership newsletters to OSM-F members, letting them know what their Foundation is doing

There are also more long term things we should look at:

  • Internationalising the membership login pages
  • Completely revise the Foundation website, starting from first principles. What should the site deliver to its members?
  • Using a CRM to manage membership more effectively