WikiProject TransforMap

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Project TransforMap

TransforMap Logo

This page aims to describe “TransforMap” for OpenStreetMappers. TransforMap is a worldwide project that wants to map projects, initiatives, spots and spaces which lead to a better world. Better means: Free, Fair and Sustainable.

The project current is solely OpenStreetMap-based (no external DBs implemented yet), you can check out demo maps here:

Why TransforMap?

The current situation on maps (about the alternative economy, but this is true for other areas too) is unsatisfying at best.

We are unhappy with the current situation:

  • There are thousands of mapping projects[1], each with their own sites, who are mapping the same things over and over, not knowing of each other - what a waste of time!
  • Most current mapping projects use proprietary mapping systems (e.g. Google Maps) which are not free, which prevents further use.
  • Most mapping systems out there are incompatible, use different terminology for the same things, and can therefore neither be compared nor merged.
  • Almost all mapping systems are focused on one city/area. There are e.g. maps of community gardens in London, Vancouver, Berlin, NY, Portland, ... a different map for each region, which does not make sense, neither technically nor in terms of manpower needed to maintain all these maps.
  • If one mapping initiative shuts down, data is lost - with a global movement, others can take care more easily.

What we want to do

We want to make these maps working better:

  • When travelling or relocating to another area, no need to search for a new map of your favourite POIs - you can use the map you're used to.
  • Imagine if you can use the same map on the whole planet, only one account needed for contributing to different maps...
  • We want to provide a simple template or plug-in for websites where anyone can create new maps out of a common dataset, with filters to display only the content specific to the wished area of interest.

TransforMap wants to unify all those mapping websites. We are working on a common taxonomy and interoperable computer standards. The data should end up in non-proprietary databases with a free license. All software used and developed will be 100% Free Software.

Our Vision

Initiatives and individuals from all over the world, that are building a new economic paradigm and practice will be able to visually showcase their activities on a readily understood map. They might be people working for projects related to Commons, Solidarity Economy, The Economy for the Common Good, Transition Towns, Fabbers, DIY + DIT (do-it-yourself and do-it-together fans), people who share and co-consume, who produce collectively or in a P2P network what they need. Whoever is interested in learning about and experimenting with alternatives to the dominant economic system will find through transformap where and with whom to do this near his/her place. The proponents of this global mapping process invite the public to co-create maps that make existing approaches and practices visible: for a free, fair and sustainable world.

We will collect and publish small data about a huge diversity of actors and initiatives. We will make visible that There Are Plenty of Alternatives (TAPAs).

How will this work?

Linked open data.

We do not want to develop a whole new system, we want to use existing parts ("Proudly invented elsewhere") where possible and link them together:

  • Geodata: OpenStreetMap
  • Media: Wikimedia Commons or external providers (Youtube?, Flickr?)
  • Classifications of POIs: OSM or Wikidata
    • Extra classifications needed by some organisations internally: yet to be developed extra tag databases
  • Translations: Wikidata
  • Event data: yet to be developed - event locations from OSM

As in the end of all this linked stuff stands a map, the location of all things should be stored in a geodatabase: OpenStreetMap. This is easy for e.g. a community garden: map it into OSM. For things which do not fit into OSM, e.g. events the event itself would be stored elsewhere but links its location to OSM.

Everything that doesn't fit into OSM will be stored elswhere: Extra tags unsuitable for OSM, events, media.


A strong movement is in progress to include Wikidata (via Wikimedia Germany in Berlin) into TransforMap and therefore, into the OpenStreetMap ecosystem.

Where can Wikidata be useful? Wikidata has a long list of items that correspond to OSM tags, e.g. Wikidata:Drinking water (Q7892). If you want to localise a map, the corresponding translation for POIs (e.g. Tag:amenity=drinking_water can be fetched via Wikidata! This not only is useful for (web-)maps, but also for editors! Imagine iD and JOSM fetching all translations from Wikidata - no more pressure to update translations for presets in 200 languages.

TransforMap Taxonomy

Initially, one goal of TransforMap was to create a needs-based taxonomy system, in contrast to the a bit "chaotic", unstructured other taxonomies, which e.g. OSM uses.

TransforMap Taxonomy consisted of the following classifications:

  • Needs fulfilled by a community (e.g. fulfils need food - you can get something to eat here)
  • Self-description of a community (e.g. part of the "Solidarity Economy" movement)
  • Mode of Interaction (describes a need can be fulfilled - e.g. bartering or lending)

But we figured out that a great part of these doesn't fit into OpenStreetMap as tags. You can find the old proposal here.

Some of this tags are implicit on most OSM objects (e.g. amenity=restaurant fulfils the need for food). The better way than to tag "provides=food" on each restaurant, is to store these implications in a database (e.g. Wikidata). One that wants to create a "map of food" gets the appropriate item categories from that DB, and then queries OSM via Overpass API.

If the OSM community does not approve a tag (e.g. the identities), this will be stored in an external database for each POI.


A lot of our partners want to switch from their current, standalone maps to TransforMap, therefore to OpenStreetMap.

There is a page listing all imports via project TransforMap.

Therefore, a lot of new POIs will be added via manual imports. A lengthy how-to, how this will be done has been written here on discourse. We will follow the Import/Guidelines:

  • Source data must be completely Public Domain
  • manually merge with existing OSM data, check coordinates with aerials
  • creating an import page and user
  • consulting the OSM mailinglists, prepare an .osm file for review
  • import

For keeping the map data up to date, we have created a fork of iD, which has the presets for alternative economy features included.


for OpenStreetMap:

  • A lot of new mappers
  • A lot of new places will be added and areas around them improved
  • Development of front-ends and linked data APIs will enrich the ecosystem of OSM applications

For all initiatives by using OSM as a base for TransforMap:

  • A single worldwide database for geodata, a map covering the whole world, no need to search a new map when in a different city
  • A rich and developing taxonomy - in English, standardized all over the world -> will be translated into several languages
  • Use of a Free Software backend
  • Use of an open background map, styleable differently for each applicaton
  • Routing to POIs, easily enhanceable if not precise enough
  • errors can be corrected by everyone
  • Open license for ALL data.

Project organisation

There doesn't exist a legal body for TransforMap - it is a loose group of people kind of chaotically organising this thing. There are no fixed responsibilities, but we are organised in working groups. All participants have in common that they're dedicating themselves to help making a better world. If you feel that mapping leads to a better world, your are invited to join one of the groups:

Collaboration tools

Part of this project is to find out what tools are needed to enable a very diverse group of people working together.

  • Our Discourse (an advanced web-forum) is the hub for all our communication - it also acts as sort of a wiki for documentations.
  • Trello is used for project management.

Apart from these "centralised" starting points we use textpads (list) for protocols, Mumble for audio conferencing, and an owncloud for document storage.


  • (DEADLINE) March 2016 Set up servers needed for SSEDAS: media server, extra tag server, taxonomy server
  • (FUTURE) 2016-08-30 -- 2016-09-03 - 5th Int. Degrowth Conference in Budapest
  • (FUTURE) Sept. 2015 TransforMap work week at SOLIKON conference, Berlin
  • Aug 2015 Some TransforMap members fulfil a contract (€ 30K) within WikiProject_TransforMap/SSEDAS to build a map plugin for 26 partner-websites
  • 18.+19.6.2015 Transformap Meeting Munich
  • 22.5.2015 Workshop at OuiShare Fest 2015
  • April 2015 Witzenhausen Hackathon - landing page and iD Fork was created
  • 11.03.2015 Work Meeting Berlin
  • 20.-22.2.2015- Transformap Workshop at "Anders Leben Konferenz" - Vienna
  • Jan 2015 CHEST EU grant confirmed (€ 60K)
  • Jan 2015 TransforMap Meeting in Potsdam
  • Oct 2014 Meeting at Elevate festival, Graz
  • 03.09.2014 Workshop at Degrowth Konferenz, Leipzig; € 15K grant from Böll Foundation
  • 4.-8.6.2014-06-04 OuiShare Summit - Berlin
  • Summer 2014 Application for CHEST EU grant
  • April 2014, start of Taxonomy Proposal
  • March 2014, Kickoff-meeting "14MMM"

History of TransforMap

There were various events and people, who led to a kick-off meeting in Munich, called "Mapping Meeting Munich 2014", or 14MMM - which was the official "start" for a project later called TransforMap. In March 2014, there met ~30 people from all over Europe in a two-day intensive workshop, to create a "map for all alternatives". User Species held a long and exhausting talk about OSM, and there was the consent to use OpenStreetMap as mapping system instead of proprietary ones like Google.

Members of these groups did participate in Munich:

  • Commons
  • Solidarity Economy
  • echtzeit Resourcentracking (, Werkstätten, Abfallvermeidung
  • Gartenkarte
  • Solidarische Landwirtschaft
  • Kollaborative Ökonomie
  • Bildungsarbeit
  • Transition Town / Essbare Stadt
  • Food Coop / CSA
  • Tauschringe
  • Degrowth
  • Wachstumswende
  • sinnwerkstatt

The protocol of the 14MMM can be found in this pad.

The name "TransforMap"

The name "TransforMap" was the outcome of an internal voting in autumn 2014 - the least worse of all names not taken yet ;-)

A similar situation was responsible for our logo - no one had a good idea, so the webmaster simply took a free one ;-)

We initially decided to use the domain (but it wasn't available for us), so we use - but we have reserved for future use.