How to help OpenStreetMap
Working on the map
You've probably already taken a look a the map and tried to find your street. Maybe it's not quite right, or not quite finished. Maybe there's missing shops and restaurants. Maybe it's not on the map yet at all. Well here's a great way for you to get involved. We create maps without looking at existing copyrighted maps, by surveying the streets and using various mapping techniques, but there's no substitute for local knowledge. There's a whole load of stuff you can do in your neighbourhood without taking on board the full global dimensions of this project. We're encouraging people to join in and make small contributions here and there to improve the map, because many hands make light work.
Adding notes to the map
The Notes feature offers a very simple way to mark problems on the map, like missing or wrong names, missing features. You may also be able to provide local information about the already existing notes, like providing the missing names.
It doesn't require much effort to start working on the map. Maybe you're in an area where it looks like we've finished, but don't forget we're interested in gathering a lot of detailed Map Features. Things like pubs, restaurants, even post boxes and bus stops, can all be added to our data set. Spot these in your neighbourhood and stick them on there! You are also very welcome to correct any mistakes you see, e.g. misspelled road names.
Creating maps from scratch
Maybe you're in an area (or even a whole country) without much map coverage. That's great! We need you to join in, and help us to conquer your corner of the globe!
In case you don't have a GPS device, you can simply trace Aerial Imagery or the GPS tracks uploaded by the other users. In any case, you'll need to create an account, check out the Beginners' guide and spend some time getting the hang of editing.
Collaborating with others
To find out who else is involved in mapping your region, navigate the Mapping Projects pages. These pages list projects which you might like to help with. They are goal oriented activities, such as mapping a particular town or city, or the motorway network for a country. If there is a project that interests you then you will be very welcome to get involved. To register local interest you can often list yourself on these project pages. If you have a wiki account you could also use your wiki user page to describe your location and mapping interests, and add yourself to location categories. Within your OSM user account settings (not in the wiki) you can also add a description and you can set your 'home' location.
One of the biggest ways to help is to promote OpenStreetMap within the wider community. We're interested in attracting new contributors who will go out and map their neighbourhoods. This could be local community groups, school kids, people living in other countries, or people travelling to interesting unmapped parts of the world. It's also good to boost the enthusiasm of people who have already heard of OSM in a particular area. One way of doing this is to organise a mapping weekend or Micro Mapping Party.
Historically we've always had more luck attracting technology enthusiasts, people with a passion for open internet collaboration, or also gadget freaks looking to put their GPS units to good use. We are also interested in attracting new developers (see below). The project is widely known in tech circles these days, but there's plenty more work to do persuading these people to have a go at contributing. A great way to reach out to these people is to give presentations or otherwise promote OSM at technology events. The Current Events page often lists forthcoming meet-ups and conferences featuring OSM presentations, but maybe you know of another event where OSM should be promoted.
A lot of software development work is taking this project in many different directions. We have created various map editing tools. In fact OpenStreetMap is powered by open source software from the slippy map interface, down to the underlying data access protocol (a web service interface for reading and writing map data). There is lots of scope for sub-projects working with our data and using our data, but we also need help fixing bugs and adding features to our core components.
So where to start?
- The Develop page is the portal for developers document technical details and find areas they are interested in.
- Join the 'dev' and 'talk' mailing lists to get a feel for the most current activity.
- The API specification is perhaps the main piece of documentation to get your head around.
- The Things To Do list is mainly development tasks
Because OSM changes rapidly we still have to keep this wiki current. So you might help us and update/manage wiki pages. The wikiteam will help you, if you like.
Join the foundation
You can join the OpenStreetMap Foundation as a way of showing your support for the project, and influence the future direction of the project. You can also donate directly to the foundation to help keep the servers running!