Fri 17 Aug 2018 11:36AM

Publicity for OSM to encourage new mappers

RW Robert Whittaker Public Seen by 50

Brainstorming ideas for getting more publicity for OSM UK


Robert Whittaker Fri 17 Aug 2018 11:44AM

I've been thinking about this for some time, but what I've found in my tool at https://osm.mathmos.net/ghosts/ has brought it home for me. One of the USPs of OSM is in having detailed mapping of local amenities. We know this coverage can be pretty patchy depending on local mappers but in the Ghosts tool we can see that even in places that are well-mapped, we have lots of out of date stuff. e.g. there are still 153 "Lloyds TSB" branches listed five year after they de-merged back to "Lloyds" and "TSB".

So we could do with more mappers around, not only to add new things, but also to keep the map up to date. To achieve this, I think one good way would be to try to get more publicity for OSM, including news stories in mainstream media. Ordnance Survey and Google manage to get regular news stories mentioning their maps, and I think it would be good if we could somehow do the same. I'm not sure I've got any solutions here, but I think what we need to do is somehow to come up with newsworthy stories involving OSM. Perhaps this could be involvement in projects to map a set of amenities for public benefit, or news that we've achieved a certain level of coverage for something, or a story of how OSM mapping has helped fix something or correct some important data.

Anyway, does anyone else agree, and more importantly, does anyone have any ideas for how to generate news stories / publicity like this?


Gregory Marler (former Director) Thu 20 Sep 2018 12:38PM

Events are normally a good way to draw news interest.
10 years ago we used to contact local press about Mapping Parties in an attempt to promote them. They were often slow or want to talk about it, so went to print post-event. But that could be good for general OSM publicity... these people are/have-been mapping banks etc., quotes from them, talk how easy it is lookup details online.
News generally likes stories about people. If it's not too time-specific then they can hold it for a slow news day.


Jez Nicholson Sun 23 Sep 2018 1:26PM

Hello Robert,

In short: absolutely.

AFAIK we do not have anyone in OSMUK with PR experience, but i've been involved with Marketing for a long time. There is a definite skill in finding a news friendly angle on an event or issue, and then wording it in a press release that works.

I've seen "All the [xyzs] in [the county] Mapped!" articles in local news web sites and thought that we should do something similar for OSM.

I will attempt to get some advice on making press releases and how/where to send them.



Jay Turner Thu 21 Jan 2021 2:52AM

Once all this pandemic stuff is over, we definitely need a mapping party. Do we know how many UK mappers we have? Is there a heatmap?


Gareth L Thu 21 Jan 2021 8:27AM

Hi Jay,

So OSMUK (the CIC) currently has around 90 members. There are more contributors in the UK area than that who aren't members.

http://resultmaps.neis-one.org/oooc this can help indicate who's nearby, especially if you use the 'active in last 6 months' option. Its worth pointing out a bunch of other interesting visualisations from that site here: https://resultmaps.neis-one.org/ Dipping into the database for numbers directly might be trickier as there are plenty of remote mappers active, working for amazon and the like.

OSMUK has honestly had terrible ratio of admin:promotion in the past few months because of a tortuous hosting migration, but hopefully that's wrapping up now.

One of our (now former) directors, Rob, got an OSMF grant awarded to produce flyers about open street map, building on a limited run that we funded ahead of a trade show last year.

The quarterly projects are one of the best tools in our arsenal for promotion. It was the 'mapping the paths' quarterly project back in 2018 that got me to join as a member. The one thing we've really struggled with is partnering with another organisation to really spread the word outside of OSM circles.

We're looking to provide more tangible benefits for mappers in the UK soon where sustainable, e.g. land registry tiles, which at very least should make the task of aligning aerial imagery much more accurate.

Post AGM in 2020 there was interest expressed in attending an online conference/presentation spotlight from time to time. Personally I'm all for showcases as I think we all have a bunch of really useful tools that we use for our own workflows... but just assume everyone else knows about them!

Mapping parties are popular too. Local groups like mappa mercia and the Nottingham/Derby/Leicester group were holding monthly meetings pre-pandemic and I'm hopeful they will return when appropriate.


Edward Bainton Fri 22 Jan 2021 8:42AM

On the current quarterly project, is it worth putting ourselves in touch with the Open Spaces Society (oss.org.uk) and asking them to promote it to their members? Fields In Trust?

The only thing is i think green spaces is for this quarter? My experience as a charity trustee is that you need to give most voluntary orgs at least a couple of months' run-up because getting wheels in motion is so very slow. ( But it can happen!)

So I wonder if planning QPs well ahead in future may help us do the promotions more effectively.


Gregory Marler (former Director) Thu 18 Feb 2021 6:25PM

Planning QPs ahead more would really help.

I've always accepted that part of the project is to build tools, write reports, increase publicity, etc, and to do that during the quarter. However it would be good to at least get the titles lined up 6-9 months in advance, and then you could contact organisations "we're doing X in quarter Y, can we work together than and what/when should we do things?".

I'm part of the community and will use the quarter-time. However for my YouTube channel I'm really trying to plan videos to create consistency. I'm guessing at the start of April I'l go to a new housing development, and in the mean time I have other things to map, but if that's not the Q2 project then I may not mange to do a video on what Q2 is.
As Edward pointed out, organisations/charities outside of the community will take longer to sort out. They at least need in their diary to have the time to respond/engage.


Jez Nicholson Thu 18 Feb 2021 8:44PM

good point....noted. You know how it is, the end of the QP rocks round so quickly. It would be good to have some settled in advance...perhaps with the caveat that we could swap something else in if something big pops up?