OpenStreetMap for Government

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As OpenStreetMap becomes more complete, so grows government interest in the data. There are plenty of government maps that use OSM as a background, and there is plenty of government open data that might be used to improve OSM.

This page is a catalog for more intense collaboration. We're looking for projects where OSM data is integrated into government processes, used to verify government data, used as a basis for policy; where governments directly contribute to OSM or actively encourage their citizens or employees to do so.

Richard Fairhurst wrote a useful intro for data owners (often governments) potentially interested in working with OpenStreetMap (blog post).

Projects overview

Possible categories:

  • Error detection, QA assurance
  • Managing data directly in OSM
  • Maintaining a verified copy of OSM data
Category Country Authority Project Scope More info
QA, direct editing Belgium City of Antwerp Improving official road registry with OSM data One-of (but repeatable) check of Road Registry completeness with OSM data. Errors on government side fixed by employees, errors on OSM side communicated to local mappers. diary post, with interesting comments on legality.
QA, community building Belgium Trage Wegen VZW Base registry of "slow roads" Flanders + Brussels Using OSM and government sources to help create a map of existing and disappeared slow roads. They try to feed back both to OSM and to the official road registry Presentation at SOTM 2016
Migrate to OSM Austria Vorarlberg Cycle routes(?) The gov't (VOGIS, in collaboration with a company in Graz maintain cycle routes of Vorarlberg in OSM. [1]
Encourage humanitarian OSM growth United States USG, USAID, PEPFAR Encourage humanitarian mapping Mapgive project [2] [3] [4] [5]
Support OSM growth Canada Statcan Encourage local mapping Statcan crowdsourcing project [6]
Support OSM growth, OSM data for gov Philippines Project NOAH Encourage local and remote mapping Building OSM (community) as a tool for official disaster response readiness [7]
Support OSM growth, OSM data for gov Global Data4DSGs (partnership including governemnts) Encourage local and remote mapping Toolkit for building OSM (community) as a tool for national mapping [8]
Support OSM growth, OSM data for gov Tanzania Tanzania Open Data Team, Ramani Huria Encourage local and remote mapping Building OSM (community) as a tool for official disaster response readiness in Dar es Salam About [9], data use analysis [10]
Data mashups France Etalab Address database and services Database that integrates OSM and official address sources, plus services [11]
Migrate to OSM France SNCF Indoor mapping in OSM Indoor mapping of railway stations within OSM [12]
Migrate to OSM United States Trimet agency of Portland, Oregon Mapped roadmap in OSM Mapping their basemap in OSM. Route info still managed separately [13]
Support OSM growth, OSM data for gov Uruguay Ministerio de Desarrollo Social, Uruguay Encourage remote mapping OSM for updated digital cartography in informal human settlements, use of OSM data dumps for routing. [14]
Quality Assurance Lithuania GIS-Centras, Lithuania Bi-directional error/update detection Started in 2015. OSM community fixes OSM errors. GIS-Centras fixes governmental data. Currently working on datasets: place names, roads (geometry, reference numbers, surface, names). blog post, interview
QA, direct editing Norway Entur AS on behalf of Ministry of Transport and Communications, Norway Completion of road network, and footpaths in connections with public transport stops Entur is a company owned by the government tasked with building a multimodal public transport planner for all of Norway. The travel planner uses OpenTripPlanner which in turn uses OSM for foot routing. [15] talk at SotM 2019
QA, direct editing Belgium Brussels Capital Region Getting official bike route data to work through OSM An Open Summer of Code (osoc) project to building a tool to compare and maintain OSM cycle routes with the official ones. Also building of a navigation tool to help bikers navigate the city with this data. comparison website, github repo, routeplanner, osoc.
QA, direct editing Finland Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) Use OSM as the base for all our maps Creating our own visual style of OSM and applying it as the base map for all our maps - both digital and printed. Our OSM based maps are visible eg. on route maps, stop posters and in our journey planner (Digitransit-project). We edit OSM ourselves and encourage the community to do so as well in order to improve our map's accuracy and our journey planner's routing & geocoding services. HSL map style Journey Planner, Digitransit-project, Digitransit OSM-wiki, HSL Developer community, Presentation at SOTM 2018
QA UK Ordnance Survey Validating official road data with OSM Few details known at this time Tweet by Sebastian Ovide
Data generation UK Thinkwhere Data generation and webmapping by the gov Generating data w.r.t. poverty SotM 2019 page
Mapmaking Belgium Commune de Brugellette/ Champs Libres Outreach, data collection Deciding what should be shown on maps of the village; collecting the data in OSM; making printed maps project profile, on the osm wiki
Data generation India Kerala State IT Mission Data generation by the gov Generating data Project details - Mapathon Keralam
Data generation Germany Regionalverband Ruhr Stadtplanwerk 2.0 (city maps 2.0) OSM highway network is used in official city maps. Authorities in turn update map data and do QA. Staff of some communities have become regulars of wiki page
Data generation United States OSM US Government Committee Mapping railroad tunnels in CO OpenStreetMap and U.S. Government Committee - Investigating Public Domain Collaboration: The mission of the OpenStreetMap (OSM) and U.S. Government Committee is to seek out mutually beneficial relationships between the public and open data communities. As part of this effort, OSM community members and representatives from federal agencies have been investigating solutions for feature collection that would result in data being contributed to both the OSM community, and back to the federal government as public domain. Committee participants are pursuing a demonstration project to collect railroad tunnels for official government use. Blog post about Public Domain Map

If you don't know how to catalogue a contribution, or it doesn't really fit above, drop it here:

Related projects

  • OpenSchoolsKenya -- project of Map Kibera to map schools [16]
  • LA Building Import [17], [18]
  • etalab -- OpenSolarMap [19], [20]
  • Hurricane Patricia response in Mexico [21]
  • Stockholm Public Transport company website uses OSM basemap [22]
  • Västtrafik, The Public Transport company in the Gothenburg area uses OSM maps in their travel planner [23]
  • City of Torino journey planner is based on Digitransit-project & OSM [24]
  • City of Herrenberg journey planner is based on Digitransit-project & OSM [25]
  • Estonia national journey planner is based on Digitransit-project & OSM [26]
  • The Latvian community has several government data import + synchronisation programs up [27] [28] [29]
  • The Kingdom of Lesotho is using OSM to transition its national GIS away from traditional tools, including volunteers tracing data and officials making use of the data [30] [31] [32]
  • Anybody to comment how "Mapbox Cities" initiative fits here?
  • More?!

There are some suggestions in this talk thread too [33]

Research and analysis

This section is for research into the relationship between OSM and government.

Main article about OpenStreetMap Research. There is also a VGI Knowledge Portal to collect research on the broader subject of volunteered geodata.

Common problems and opportunities

Licensing issues

This article is not written by lawyers. Do no take the information here as legally binding. In case of doubt, contact the OpenStreetMap Foundation.

Integrating OSM data into gov data

When you copy OSM data and improve upon it, you are forced to release it under the same license. You cannot use a more or a less liberal license. Hence a real integration of OSM data into government processes, forces government to open their data. But if the data is already open under a license which does not force share-alike, then the government needs to implement a more restrictive license. This is an issue, for example when governments want private GPS map providers to use their dataset to improve their private maps.

The Flemish case below shows that this can be avoided if features are not copied to the government dataset, but only used as a trigger to verify the official data (and for example re-digitize the new features).

Releasing gov data as Open Government Data

A common requirement of government open data licenses is data attribution. Depending on the fine print, this might make the data unusable for OpenStreetMap. In OSM, attribution requires only "© OpenStreetMap contributors" and a reference to where - at most - individual countries can eventually be mentioned individually. That page also refers to , which contains a more exhaustive list.

In the case of the Flemish "Free open data license", it was established (together with government agents) that adding an attribution in the Contributors page is enough. The Swiss gov Open Government Data (OGD) license tends to require explicit attribution of their datasets on a more prominent place. Gov representatives often don't realize that this makes this OGD incompatible with OSM licensing.

This issue (or even uncertainty about it) may cause government data not being used to improve OSM.


  • Paul Ramsey on "Data pipes & Relevance" of government mapping [34]