During the Annual Meeting in Tokyo, new Board members replaced long-standing members Steve Coast and Mikel Maron. During the first few weeks, even before the face-to-face meeting, it became clear that the thinking of members of the Board is now much broader than it has been in past years. The role of the OSMF has been brought into question. While the thinking among the Board members seems to be very diverse, it becomes clear that, from a high-level perspective, there are two sides. One side considers the OSMF as providing a support function for the mappers’ community, while the other acknowledges that making OpenStreetMap data a viable alternative to the incumbent map sources requires a balance between data contribution (the mappers’ community) and data consumption (those who provide services based on OSM data to the consumer).
Both sides are fully aware that the mappers are the key element. However, one side considers themselves to represent the interests of the mappers. In the world of business, this would be equivalent to the labour unions. The other side is also willing to consider the needs of those who are working with data in order to leverage the use of OpenStreetMap data and therefore make the necessary compromise in order to grow the OSM ecosystem. This would be similar to the Ministry of Economy, which deals with a prospering economy. To give an example: commercial companies that are considering the use of OSM data have approached the Board in order to discuss the impact of their to-be-launched services of OpenStreetMap. Most companies expect to discuss such topics, where business secrets are involved, under a confidentiality agreement. One side of the Board is willing to make such a compromise, while the other considers confidentiality agreements to be a disadvantage for the mapping community and dislikes confidentiality agreements in general.
Many of these conflicting standpoints have already evolved during the first weeks of the new Board. The current purpose of the OpenStreetMap Foundation (“an initiative to create and provide free geographic data, such as street maps, to anyone”) is too broad for it to be of help in justifying either standpoint. It comes down to the fact that the purpose of the OSMF needs to be more precisely defined in order to judge which standpoint is more in line with the OSMF’s intentions.
I assume this discussion will become a significant part of the Board’s face-to-face meeting at the beginning of November.