Google Summer of Code/2021/Organisation application

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This page contains the details submitted for Google Summer of Code 2021 as our organization application.


Organization Name



File:Public-images-osm logo.png

Creating and distributing free geographic data for the world.

Short Description
OpenStreetMap was started because most maps you think of as free have restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive, or unexpected ways.

Long Description
OpenStreetMap is a crowdsourcing project that creates and distributes free geographic data for the world. Our data is collected by hundreds of thousands of contributors around the globe and released with an open-content license. We allow free access not only to our map images, but all the underlying map data, which powers websites and apps used by billions of people worldwide.

OSM data can be freely used in both open and closed source software, and has attracted many commercial users. Still, the success of OSM wouldn't be possible without open source software and volunteer developers. The database, website and api running on our own servers, the editing tools used by contributors to improve the map, and many of the most popular libraries and end-user applications within the OSM software ecosystem are all open source software, and developed through a community-driven process.

As our Google Summer of Code participation spans this diverse set of software projects, most of which are maintained as independent efforts under the OSM umbrella, students will encounter a wide range of programming languages, paradigms and use cases. We hope that we have interesting challenges to offer for any developer, no matter their background!

Primary Open Source License
GNU General Public License version 2.0 (GPL-2.0)

Organization Category

Technology Tags
Java, Javascript, PostgreSQL, Ruby, Python

Topic Tags
Maps, Open data, Crowdsourcing, GIS

Website URL

Ideas List

Application Instructions
We have made good experiences with students who introduced themselves to our community and their respective mentor in advance. It helps to get the student and mentor know to each other, to know if they can work together and to elaborate on the details expected for a specific project. This also improves the timeline that has to be provided by our students. Depending on the project or mentor, we might request a software prototype or to solve a small exercise to estimate the student's experience level and their ambition to work with us. We will publish an application template and instructions on [our GSoC 2021 wiki page](

Proposal Tags


Mailing List

Contact Email

Twitter URL

Blog URL

Organization Application

Why does your org want to participate in Google Summer of Code?

We strongly believe that free-to-use geographical data is important for organizations as well as for individuals who want to use the data in creative ways. In many parts of the world, we have a healthy community of map data contributors by now, but at the same time, we're facing a relative shortage of programmers who are willing to experiment and implement many of the ideas that are floating around. As a result, a lot of the wealth of OpenStreetMap's data is hard to access for end users, and our contributors aren't working as efficiently as they could with better tools at their disposal. By getting motivated students involved in the project we hope to decrease this shortage and encourage them to become long time contributors to OpenStreetMap.

What would your org consider to be a successful summer?

If all or at least the vast majority of our students manage to implement the intended features and have their code merged, we consider that a success.

We also hope that some of them continue as volunteers after the end of GSoC. To this end, we require public communication with the community, and encourage participation in activities and meetups. However, this happy outcome is comparatively rare and not fully in our control, so we see it a stretch goal, not required for a successful summer.

How many potential mentors have agreed to mentor this year?


How will you keep mentors engaged with their students?

We routinely choose mentors who are well known in our community, who are highly active and known for their reliability. Many members of our mentoring teams have successfully participated in GSoC as mentors or students before. We also try to balance the workload among our mentors, and tend to assign secondary mentors for each project, in order to avoid burdening mentors with too high a workload. In the past, this approach has worked well for us and there was no need for emergency measures. However, if there's still an unplanned occurrence or the student feels the mentor is not responsive enough the admins are prepared to step in and, if all else fails, provide the student with a replacement mentor.

How will you help your students stay on schedule to complete their projects?

We expect students to report to their mentor(s) at least weekly. These reports allow mentors to spot issues with scheduling, tech or student motivation at an early stage. In addition to direct communication with mentors, we also require updates on public community channels (e.g. blogs or mailing lists). These updates are primarily intended to help with community involvement and to make sure students doesn't work in isolation, but they double as an additional means to keep track of student progress and instil a sense of accountability. If a student misses a scheduled check-in, or if major issues are spotted, a mentor will try to get the student focused on the project again and understand what is distracting them. The goal is to work with the student to refocus and commit to a new plan for a successful GSoC project. If we can't reach the student or if the student is unable to continue, we have no choice but to fail them at the next GSoC evaluation.

How will you get your students involved in your community during GSoC?

OpenStreetMap is a large community with several different communication channels. As people tend to stick to their preferred way of communication, we encourage any form of interaction, be it forum, blog, mailing lists, wiki, jabber or chat. We require the student to provide reports about their progress and experiences during the program at least weekly, which are often featured in our weekly OpenStreetMap newsletters. The added visibility boosts students' confidence and helps start a dialogue with other community members. As a team of mentors and admins, we'll also actively introduce the students to the community. Where possible, we also give preference to students that already have a connection with OpenStreetMap in some way, even if it's usually as a data contributor ("mapper") rather than programmer.

How will you keep students involved with your community after GSoC?

As we try to incorporate the software into OpenStreetMap, the student will be rewarded with their software being in daily use. We hope this encourages the student to improve the project and maintain it for a long time. However, as there are enough open tasks and OpenStreetMap is a great project as a whole, we're also happy if they pick another task to work on, be it further software development or data contributions. In addition to global online communications, there is a big network of regular OpenStreetMap meetups, hacking events and conferences in many locations around the globe (although, for the duration of the pandemic, these have mostly been replaced with remote events), offering additional points of contact for students. Participation is optional, but if students become acquainted with their local community, this is a strong motivator to stick around beyond the summer.

Has your org been accepted as a mentor org in Google Summer of Code before?


Which years did your org participate in GSoC?

  • 2020
  • 2019
  • 2018
  • 2017
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008

How many students did your org accept for 2020?


How many of your org's 2020 students have been active in your community in the past 60 days?


For each year your organization has participated, counts of successful and total students:

2020: 4/5,
2019: 5/5,
2018: 5/7, 
2017: 5/5, 
2016: 4/6, 
2015: 7/8, 
2014: 1/1 (via OSGeo), 
2013: 1/1 (via OSGeo), 
2012: 4/6, 
2011: 3/3, 
2010: 4/6, 
2009: ?/6, 
2008: ?/2 (the oldest stats have been lost)

If your org has applied for GSoC before but not been accepted, select the years:


What year was your project started?


Where does your source code live?

Refer an organization (optional)?


Is your organization part of any government?


Anything else we should know (optional)?