From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Manifesto for OSM US Board Elections 2011

About me

I am Martijnpronunciation van Exel, a 39 year old Dutch map addict. I recently moved to the US and currently live in beautiful Salt Lake City with my wife and cats. I grew up buried in maps and atlases and studied Urban Planning and Geography. After a brief stint as a high school Geography teacher, I drifted towards geospatial IT - initially as a software developer, then as a researcher and consultant with several private companies in The Netherlands. Right now, I am a freelance geospatial consultant with a strong preference for OpenStreetMap-related challenges.

I currently do not have any affiliation that would be notable in the context of this election and my functioning as an independent member of this board.

There's more if you want: I have a personal microblog in Dutch and English,, a professional blog with lots of OSM-related stuff, and a flickr account.

My involvement with OpenStreetMap

I have been with OpenStreetMap since summer 2007, when I heard about a local mapping party in Amsterdam - and I have never looked back. I was immediately enthralled with the strong community spirit and the determination of the fledgling community to create a world map from nothing. Over the years, I raised funds for the local community, organized local and national events, helped organize SOTM09, hacked some and organized OpenStreetMap hack events, spoke at SOTM and lots of other geo events about OpenStreetMap, and got involved in research into OSM data quality. Oh, yes, and I map, too.

Why I am running

I believe strongly in the power of OpenStreetMap, both as a free and open resource for geospatial professionals and as a platform for mapping enthusiasts. To leverage those communities and interact with them, we need an official representation - to address legal and technical concerns and needs, to support those communities with the resources they require - be it knowledge, technology, financial support for local events, or the organization of larger events (SOTM US) to generate awareness and strengthen community ties.

What I will focus on

This is sort of a work in progress, it may evolve somewhat before the voting starts.

There's a lot I would love to do, but I do realize that the time I will be able to spend on OSM US Board activities will be limited, so let me focus on the two things are of particular importance to me:

  • Facilitating Newcomers to OSM - Only one third of everyone who signs up for an OSM account ever goes on to contribute anything. I don't know if the figures are as bleak for the US as they are overall but I have no reason to assume otherwise. This desperately needs to improve, and I want the board to support and facilitate that process. This is a broad objective so let me break it down with a few examples:
    • Supporting local events aimed at educating newcomers.
    • Team up with schools, colleges, universities to develop OSM courses / curriculum.
    • Form a group of thinkers and doers who come up with tools that make (casual) editing easier, more engaging, more fun for a broad range of people. Facilitate others who already do this. Think outside the box: AddressHunter, MagicShop FrontDoor.
    • Improve documentation for newcomers. Consolidate existing tutorials, videos, documentation that is spread out across the web.
  • State Of The Map US 2012 - I believe that having a national event is very important for the reasons mentioned above - not to mention a lot of fun. I personally want to facilitate the organization of that event in every way I can, and I think the board should too.