Google Summer of Code/2011/Organisation Application

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This is the draft text of the application for OpenStreetMap to become a Google Summer of Code mentor organisation in 2011 (See Google Summer of Code/2011). Please note that the current application is in progress.


In addition to anything else your organization would like to submit as an application, Google will be asking (at least) the following questions as part of the application process:

Q:Describe your organization.

"OpenStreetMap is a project aimed squarely at creating and providing free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. The project was started because most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive or unexpected ways."

Contributors to OpenStreetMap take handheld GPS devices with them on journeys, or go out specially to record GPS tracks. They record street names, village names and other features using notebooks, digital cameras, and voice-recorders. Back at the computer, contributors upload those GPS logs showing where they travelled, and trace-out the roads on OpenStreetMap's collaborative database. Using their notes, contributors add the street names, information such as the type of road or path, and the connections between roads.

That data is then processed to produce detailed street-level maps, which can be published freely on sites such as Wikipedia, used to create handheld or in-car navigation devices, or printed and copied without restriction.

Q: Why is your organization applying to participate in GSoC 2011? What do you hope to gain by participating?

We strongly believe that free to use geographical data will be important for organizations such as Google as well as for individuals that want to use the data in creative ways (such as writing routing software). While we have plenty of map data contributors by now, we have a shortage of programmers that are willing to experiment and implement many of the ideas that are floating around.

By getting motivated students involved in the project we hope to develop the project in a number of ways including:

  • Converting OpenStreetMap data to other formats for use in other applications.
  • Development of simple methods of editing map data, to make it easy for casual users to contribute by improving the map and correcting errors.
  • Development of methods of producing useful, high quality printed maps easily.

Q: Did your organization participate in past GSoCs? If so, please summarize your involvement and the successes and challenges of your participation.

Yes, we participated in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2008, four applicants were accepted, all of whom completed their projects successfully. The projects ranged from map editing and rendering, to working on the project web page to provide multi-language support. In 2009, six applicants were accepted and again they all completed their projects successfully. The projects were wide ranging, ranging from map data processing to map data access code to user applications that utilised OpenStreetMap data. In 2010, six applicants were accepted and again they all completed their projects successfully. The projects were wide ranging, ranging from easy printable maps to Android based developments to point of interests based projects to improving the editors.

Q: If your organization has not previously participated in GSoC, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)?

We applied thrice before in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and accepted everytime.

Q:What license(s) does your project use?

  • map data is currently licences under a creative commons license: CC-BY-SA 2.0 (discussions ongoing on whether to use the Open Data Commons Database Licence)
  • software within OSM is licensed under GNU GPL or as public domain

Q: What is the URL for your ideas page?

Q: What is the main development mailing list or forum for your organization?

dev at openstreetmap org

Q: What is the main IRC channel for your organization?

irc:// (channel #osm on server

Q: Does your organization have an application template you would like to see students use? If so, please provide it now.

Yes. It goes as below:

  • Name:
  • Emails:
  • Websites/blog/OSM user page:
  • List of Languages known(please rate strength in the scale of 10):
  • OSM Project proposal:
  • Currently involved in?:
  • Schedule for project completion:
  • Handling situations(in absence of mentor):
  • Hobbies/Interests:

Q: Who will be your backup organization administrator? Rajan Vaish, Google Account vaish.rajan

Q: What criteria did you use to select these individuals as mentors? Please be as specific as possible.

Mentors have to be known in the OSM community, that is they cannot be absolute newcomers. They need to have been active for a while to make sure they are familiar with the project and that they have the network necessary within the community (so they can e.g. point to relevant people, or ask persons who might have specific knowledge on issues). Obviously they must also be willing to put the required effort into guiding and assisting the student as necessary to help them achieve their project goals.

Q: What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students?

Students will have to regularly report on their ongoing work. If mentors do not receive any progress reports they will contact the students reminding them of their ongoing work. Mentors and/or the GSoC admin should be able to help the students with getting focused on the project again. If students cannot be contacted electronically, we will need to call them by phone.

Q: What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors?

Students who are not able to contact their mentor or who feel that their mentor does not invest enough time into coaching students can contact the GSoC administrator of the project who will try to contact the mentor and clarify the situation. Mentors should not need to baby-sit their students all the time, however they should be responsive and helpful. Some prodding of mentors by a non-student might help.

We will hopefully be able to provide a spare mentor who could take over if everything fails.

Q: What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project's community before, during and after the program?

OpenStreetMap is a very addictive project, and the community is quite open to discussions. We will encourage students to report regularly (eg through mail and their blog) about their progress and experiences during the program.

Mentors will handhold students before the start of the project, giving them advice, introducing them to people in the community and make sure they get a warm welcome.

After the end of the program, successful projects would be incorporated into OpenStreetMap and developers be encouraged to continue to maintain and improve their "brain children".

Q: What will you do to ensure that your accepted students stick with the project after GSoC concludes?

After the end of the program, successful projects would be incorporated into OpenStreetMap and developers be encouraged to continue to maintain and improve their "brain children". We have the advantage that many GSoC improvements would result into user-visible improvements and features, meaning that students would get credit publically and become visible within the community.