Local Chapters are country-level or region-level not-for-profit legal entities representing the area's map and mappers when dealing with local government, business, and media, established with the OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF), giving them a link to the legal and copyright governing body.
Local chapters are normally based on geographic area, usually a country, but it could be for several countries together or a part of a country if appropriate. The chapter is encouraged to form as an official legal entity within their country's jurisdiction: a non-profit; a charity; a Community Interest Company. This can provide legitimacy, an entity to handle money matters, and longevity. This is more easily done in some countries than others. Local chapters can be existing organisations or they can be new organisations specifically established as a Local Chapter of the OSMF.
The OSMF Wiki Local Chapters page contains information from the OSMF on established chapters and how to become one. This is best place to visit for that purpose for up-to-date information.
There are a number of unaffiliated local groups to which you are free to add to.
Local chapters are separate legal entities from the OSMF. The clear separation of local chapters from OSMF makes legal matters simpler:
- Changes to bylaws etc. can be done independently
- Nobody can sue a Local Chapter for something on the openstreetmap.org website, because this website is owned by OSMF.
Local chapters and the OSMF are separate legal entities with their own sources of income like membership fees and donations and decide on their own what to do with their money. There is no flow of money from local chapters to OSMF or vice versa. This is important because of legal rules governing non-profits in different countries.
Generally local chapters are required to stand on their own financially. Of course the OSMF can pay money to local chapters if the board of directors decides to do so. In some countries it is rather expensive to incorporate an organisation (legal fees for lawyers, public notaries, etc.). It might be difficult to get the money together. Please contact the Local Chapters and Communities Working Group if this is the case.
In specific cases local chapters can pay money to OSMF to help with funding servers etc. Because this might be difficult due of tax laws (especially if the local chapter is formally recognised as non-profit), other ways of helping out can be found, such as buying and running a server locally.
The original proposal for regional chapters was made in late 2008. Since then the idea has been developed by the Foundation by the Local Chapters Working Group.
There was an ad hoc meeting at State Of The Map 2009 to discuss the issue of local chapters further. About 20 people from many different countries attended this meeting. Several issues were raised with the draft agreement leading to a rough consensus that a more open association would be easier to achieve because of legal problems with close ties between organisations in different countries. Instead of going on from the existing draft agreement, we should first reach consensus on the important issues on this wiki page and later draft the legal agreement.
Local Chapters and Communities Working Group
The Local Chapters and Communities Working Group (LCCWG) was formed in November 2019. It is the successor to the Local Chapters Working Group. Visit the Local Chapters and Communities Working Group on the OpenStreetMap Foundation website for more information on this working group.
You may subscribe to the "local-chapters" mailing list.
The LCCWG regularly meets every month and is held remotely via Mumble unless otherwise specified within the meeting announcement. Anybody is free to join the meeting! See the Mumble page on the OSM Wiki for instructions on how to connect. By default, the working group uses the OSMF/LCWG channel of the HOT Mumble server.
- 20 January minutes
- 12 November minutes
- 09 October minutes
- 03 September minutes
- 30 Jul. OSM local chapters and OSM Foundation meet up during SotM 2018 (related post)
- 20 Aug. Congress during SotM 2017
- 17 Apr. Congress during SotM 2016
- 03 Aug. Minutes (draft)
- 27 Nov. Minutes
- 20 Sep. Minutes
- 21 Mar. Minutes
- 19 Apr. Minutes
- 06 Apr. Minutes
- 16 Mar. Minutes
- 12 Feb. Notes (draft)
- 29 Jan. Notes
- 17 Dec. Notes
- 10 Dec. Notes
- 04 Sep. Minutes
- 24 Aug. Agenda
- 17 Aug. Minutes
Annual Local Chapters Congress
Now a regular feature of the international State of the Map conference, the local chapters meet at a "Local Chapters Congress" session.
2020 Congress: The 2020 Congress was not held during the 2020 State of the Map and was a virtual event hosted by the LCCWG on November 21, 2020. Find more information here.
2021 Congress was also held virtually on November 6, 2021. Find more information here.
2022 SOTM Congress meeting: In person at the 2022 State of the Map in Florence Friday August 19, 2020.
2022 Virtual Congress: November 12, 2022. More information here.
Why establish with the OSMF?
OSMF wants to support the OpenStreetMap project (and other free mapping projects, where applicable) in the whole world. But it cannot be everywhere and reach everybody, especially people speaking languages other than English. Local chapters can extend the reach of OSMF, foster local communities, help with legal and financial matters in their respective countries and generally promote OSM in their local areas.
Some of these goals (such as handling financial matters or providing a point of contact for government or media) can also be handled by totally independent organisations supporting OSM but not associated with OSMF in any way. But working together helps OSM and makes it clear that we are all part of the same community.
Benefits to local chapters
As an OSMF Local Chapter an organisation can:
- Use the name and logo of the OSM Foundation to promote themselves on their website, through the media and on promotional material.
- Receive donations, funding or other resources based on their affiliation to OSM
An OSMF Local Chapter cannot:
- Represent itself as an official legal representative of the OSMF
- Expect any resources, such as servers, domain names from the OSMF (except by special agreement)
Benefits to OSM Foundation
The goal of the OpenStreetMap Foundation is to encourage the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data and to provide geospatial data for anybody to use and share. OSMF Local Chapters help the Foundation achieve this goal amongst a far greater number of people.
- OSMF Local Chapters heighten the visibility of OSM and OSMF in their countries.
- OSMF has a legal entity that they can delegate local issues to (by mutual agreement).
Established Local Chapters
The OSMF Wiki Local Chapters page contains the information from the OSMF about Local Chapters.
& Wiki page
|# of members
|Registration process started in 2017 with the financial support of a HOT microgrant. Local chapter as of 2020.
|Asia and Oceania
|OSGeo Oceania wiki
|OSGeo Oceania is an organisation supporting the use of open source geospatial software throughout the region. An OSM working group was created within OSGeo to focus specifically on improving OSM and supporting the individuals and organisations that use it. A regional organisation was considered most practical due to the lower population in Oceania. Any country in Oceania is free to create their own local chapter at any time. The working group and its priorities are currently evolving, but meeting minutes can be viewed here.
(en, fr, nl)
|Working group within the local Open Knowledge Belgium chapter, but with separate bylaws, membership and board.
|An NGO founded in 2018 and accepted as a local chapter in 2020.
|A non-profit membership association was founded on 2011-08-10, and its name is "Association OpenStreetMap France". Local Chapter region of interest: France (including Corsica, and overseas departments and collectivities).
|Frederik Ramm (board),
Michael Reichert (OSM coordinator at FOSSGIS),
Christoph Hormann (advisory board representative)
|The FOSSGIS e.V. (Verein zur Förderung Freier (und) Open Source Software (für) Geoinformationssysteme e.V.) supports both Free and Open Source GIS Software and Open Geodata in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and is now an official local chapter of the OSMF for Germany.
|Jóhannes Birgir Jensson
|A non-governmental organization was founded on 2013-10-24 as "Hliðskjálf, félag um opin og frjáls landupplýsingagögn". The name chosen for referencing the chapter is "OpenStreetMap á Íslandi".
(island of Ireland)
|OSM Ireland covers the whole of the island of Ireland. Northern Ireland is included in OSM IRL & OSM UK.
Local chapter/OpenStreetMap Italia
|Anisa Kuci, Lorenzo Stucchi
|Wikimedia Italia / OpenStreetMap Italia is a chapter of both Wikimedia Foundation and OpenStreetMap Foundation.
|Local chapter since 2020. Free Libre Open Source Software Kosova
|A non-profit membership association was registered in May 2011 as "Stowarzyszenie OpenStreetMap Polska".
|NGO Freemap Slovakia focused on OSM activities in Slovakia since 2011. Local chapter since 2021.
Swiss OSM Association
|The organisation is a Swiss association. Formal registration with a trade registry is not necessary at this point in time, we will probably delay that till we see how much interest there is in the organisation. Bylaws etc are on the association website.
|OpenStreetMap United Kingdom is a Community Interest Company. Local Chapter region of interest: United Kingdom, and the British Crown dependencies (the Isle of Man, and the former Channel Islands: Jersey and Guernsey). Northern Ireland is included in OSM IRL & OSM UK.
|OpenStreetMap U.S. is a 501(c)(3) organization serving the United States. OSMUS was founded in 2010 and gained recognition as a local chapter in 2020.
|Geolibres was formed in 2019 for the legal representation of the local OSM, GeoChicas
and Geoinquietos (OSGeo chapter) communities
Unaffiliated local groups
The groups on this list are not (yet?) established with the OSMF.
|# of members
|Alexm made openstreetmap.org.et and tries community building - but no legal local-chapter-efforts are undertaken yet (and the OSM community in Ethiopia is still way to small...). Maybe a sub-sahara-local-chapter?
|Asia and Oceania
|The Japanese OSM community has incorporated (2010-12-24) an association "一般社団法人" (ippan-shadan-hōjin), named "OpenStreetMap Foundation Japan". In Japanese this is written as "一般社団法人オープンストリートマップ・ファウンデーション・ジャパン".
|Eugene Alvin Villar (seav)
|OpenStreetMap Philippines Inc. is now a duly-recognized non-profit membership-based organization registered with the SEC.
|Taiwan (Rep. of China)
|OpenStreetMap Taiwan is trying to be a registered group in Taiwan. So far, there are only some discussions for how and what should to do be a non profit organization..
|Non-profit organisation (Verein "OpenStreetMap Austria") registered 21-Oct-2010, ZVR # 982950065
|Jaak Laineste is the contact. Local non-profit organization MTÜ Avatud Maakaardi Selts founded in 27.08.2009
|(proposal) RU:Совет Российского OSM was active during 2012
|A non-for-profit entity has been incorporated as "Asociación OpenStreetMap España".
|Discussion to be incorporated
|Planning to create a non profit corporation.
|Jorge L. Batista (PB)
|Loose organization, that wants to incorporate.
|Julio Costa Zambelli
|The "Fundación OpenStreetMap Chile" is a non-profit organization registered in Santiago in June 2013.
Other organisations with local chapters
Some other worldwide organisations are in similar situations as OSM and it might be instructive to see how they have gone about the forming of local chapters: