Public Domain Map

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Public Domain Map is a project sponsored by the OpenStreetMap U.S. Government Committee that collects specific kinds of map data using the Tasking Manager and MapRoulette and feeds it into both OpenStreetMap and a separate dataset that is dedicated to the public domain.


Public domain map data can be used by organizations unable to abide by the Open Database License. In particular, the U.S. federal government is legally required to put its works in the public domain. Historically, mappers would import federal government datasets into OSM but could not systematically inform the responsible agency of errata. The possibility of contributing changes upstream will incentivize government partners to collect and publish more data that was previously unavailable to the OSM community.

Meanwhile, OSM will benefit immediately from these contributions, as with contributions made through the usual editing tools. This approach contrasts with conventional forks of OSM such as FOSM.


Public Domain Map was originally proposed in 2008, when OSM was still licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution–ShareAlike license. In 2010, OSM changed its license to the Open Database License. The relicensing process allowed individual mappers to declare that they want their contributions to be in the public domain. However, this option had no practical effect because OSM is a collaborative work without formal boundaries between users' contributions.

In 2021, OpenStreetMap U.S. formed a government committee focused on collaboration with agencies across the U.S. federal government. The committee decided to revive the Public Domain Map concept as a strategic tool for fostering government collaboration. In April 2022, the Public Domain Map project presented at the State of the Map U.S. 2022. The iD editor, Tasking Manager, and MapRoulette have been forked to contribute to a separate staging database. A pilot project using railroad data from the Federal Railroad Administration to identify and map rail tunnels in Colorado. The project plans to work on more rail features and eventually trails. PDM also presented at SotMUS 2023,[1] with plans for imminent public launch.

See also

Further reading

External links

  1. Introducing Public Domain Map - Quincy Morgan