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I'm Seth Fitzsimmons. I'm a former Massachusetts, Vermont, San Francisco, and Colorado resident who currently calls Seattle home. I'm an avid whitewater kayaker and thus interested in water data (specifically rivers), open spaces, multi-use trails, public transit, management of large datasets, and beautiful maps. I previously worked on/for the Public Radio Exchange, Yahoo! Brickhouse, Flickr, SimpleGeo, Microsoft, and Stamen, among others.

2016 Board Position Statement

OpenStreetMap is already a proven success. The US chapter can continue to improve the present with an eye toward increased sustainability and resilience by expanding its membership and through establishing and expanding partnerships with like-minded organizations, particularly those within the US government. We should plan for the future, but not just a single future; as a community we should imagine what we want the US chapter of OpenStreetMap to become so that we can take incremental steps and to recognize relevant external changes that can simplify our path.


I’m a digital craftsperson. That often involves building tools, but it’s really more about being passionate, attentive to detail, and opportunistically aware. In my role at Stamen as Director of Technology, I wore many hats, ranging from digging deep into client’s technical needs and implementing solutions to understanding their communication goals and discussing the logistics of open data and open source within their own and affiliated organizations.

Most recently, I’ve been working with Stamen and the American Red Cross on a project called “Portable OpenStreetMap” to facilitate offline and disconnected mapping. POSM bundles up components from the OSM software ecosystem on a low-cost, pocketable computer and allows for data collection, collaboration, and coordination. It’s been successfully used in Ecuador, West Africa, and elsewhere as part of Missing Maps efforts. Organizations including the World Bank, King County (Seattle, WA), CartoNG, HOT, and others are investigating future deployments and to facilitate efforts like tribal censuses and accessibility mapping.

Previously, I worked with Stamen and the Resources Legacy Fund to highlight the use of parks and open spaces in California, incorporating data from Instagram, GreenInfo Network, OpenStreetMap, and other sources. This led to meetings and conversations at the national level with the US Forest Service and other land managers discussing how we could harmonize the various datasets produced by interested parties.


OpenStreetMap, with its global reach and influence, is a unifying force for geographic data the likes of which the world has never seen. It is a single repository of information, curated by and represented by a vast number of voices, each with their own unique perspective.

In the United States, we bring the American culture of innovation, experimentation, and risk-taking to OpenStreetMap: we are the home to many large corporations who use OSM in a wide variety of ways. We also have an incredible public domain heritage thanks to longstanding government requirements to release most public data. OSM would not have emerged in the US, as the necessary pressure (read: lack of open data) did not exist. However, now that OSM does exist, it can serve as a uniting force for all those who traffic in open data.

OpenStreetMap + Me

As a member of the US chapter board, my goals would be to:

  • Identify ways to more effectively work with US government agencies, such as the US Forest Service and others, building on my past experience working with land and data managers in California, as well as the USFS, BLM, USGS, and National Park Service
  • Expand OSM US membership -- create a larger audience as well as a larger pool of volunteers by easing the process of joining at events and via Ambassadors while clarifying the benefits and responsibilities of membership
  • Surface membership interests and concerns -- regularly talk to members and bring their feedback to the board for discussion and facilitation, empowering volunteers to take action
  • Continue existing board outreach (previous work with law clinics, TeachOSM, State of the Map US, etc.)
  • Build on my experience working with Missing Maps partners to further facilitate NGO missions that incorporate and complement OSM
  • Encourage structured innovation within OSM and with OSM data, eventually resulting in proposals for long-term, sustainable, concrete improvements
  • Work with the rest of the board to continue establishing and refining solid fundamentals, principles, practices, and abstractions for both the organization and its infrastructure to facilitate building sustainable, reproducible processes and stable futures

Specifically, I would propose to:

  • Make it easier to join and become involved in the US chapter by more closely tying it to SotM US and other events, similar to the way that NACIS (the North American Cartographic Information Society) encourages joining by providing lower registration fees and incorporates Society business into the regular conference program
  • Become a more effective conduit for organizations producing open data by creating and hosting a “reverse geo portal” for staging potential contributions (h/t Ian Dees et al)
  • Be a friendly face and sounding board for organizations (often land managers) who simultaneously fear OSM and have much to contribute
  • Prototype a regional ambassador program similar to Fedora’s, beginning in the US, both to encourage experimentation and to increase and engage membership

Open data, open source, and public service are ideals that can stand alone; however, it is by combining these principles with passion, dreams, and reality that we can truly achieve something unique in the world.

Many thanks to Allison, Jereme, Dan, Clifford, Alyssa, Alan, and others for their feedback and encouragement.


You can reach me at seth (at) or find me on GitHub. My OSM username is mojodna.