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News — 24 August, 2018

State of the Map 2018: reflections on inclusivity

The beauty of OpenStreetMap is it’s potential to be the most inclusive and representative map there is. Inclusion has long been discussed in the OpenStreetMap community as the way to achieve this, and with good reason. Estimations of female participation in OSM vary, however often hover around 2-5% (references below), and inclusion for non-English speaking, non-US/Europe based, and LGBTQ individuals are regularly raised as barriers to the global community as it progresses.

At State of the Map 2018, I was pleased to feel a real shift discussions around inclusion, particularly gender. In sessions dedicated to the topic, Q&A in other sessions and coffee breaks, it was great to listen to and participate in a huge number of conversations around this topic. On the final day of SOTM, this was confounded during the OpenStreetMap Awards. In previous years, no woman has won an OSM award. This year, it was fantastic to see four female winners and Crowd2Map Tanzania take home prizes. From 0 to 4 winners in just one year feels like progress.

OpenStreetMap Award 2018 Winners:

  • The Core Systems Award went to Sarah Hoffmann
  • The Innovation Award went to Wikimedia Foundation Collaboration Team
  • The Influential Writing Award went to Christoph Hormann
  • The Greatness in Mapping Award went to Tshedy
  • The Expanding the Community Award went to Christine Karch
  • The Improving the Latin America Award went to Natalia da Silveira Arruda
  • The Improving the Africa Award went to Crowd2Map Tanzania
  • The Improving the Asia Award went to State of the Map Asia 2017 organizing team
  • The Ulf Möller Memorial Award went to Richard Fairhurst

Looking to the HOT Summit / FOSS4G next week, there are many sessions in the program which will advance these discussions, and shape HOT’s work reducing the digital gender divide through mapping. For those attending/following on Twitter/watching recordings, sessions to watch out for include:

  • Sustainable developments goals, technology and women empowerment - Biondi Sima, Faith Umuokoro, Rebecca Firth, Maureen Nkiruka Ezebube, Chukwunonyelum Okpala-Okaka - 29/08/18 13:30-15:00
  • OSGEO community A - Community health - Selene Yang - 29/08 - 13:30-14:00
  • Balancing Diversity and Inclusion in Open Geo – Denise McKenzie & Rebecca Firth - 30/08 – 16:30-17:50
  • Engaging the Female Gender in Active Humanitarian Mapping for Sustainable National Development in Africa Using OpenStreetMap - Victor N. Sunday, Faith Umuokoro -
  • More information:

I’m very grateful to the SOTM scholarship program for enabling me to attend in Milan this year, and also grateful to the FOSS4G/HOT Summit Travel Grants Program which will enable over 150 people to attend and further the agenda to make both the community and the map itself as inclusive as possible.

If you’re interested to talk/work more on this topic, please join HOT’s Community Working Group to share ideas.


  • Haklay, M. and Budhathoki, N. (2010), OpenStreetMap –Overview and Motivational Factors, Horizon Infrastructure Challenge Theme Day, The University of Nottingham. - Nama’s research suggests OSM community 96.2% male
  • Lechner, M. (2011), Nutzungspotentiale crowdsourceerhobener Geodaten auf verschiedenen Skalen, Dissertation, Freiburg.
  • Stark, H.J. (2011), Empirische Untersuchung der Motivation von Teilnehmenden bei der freiwilligen Erfassung von Geodaten, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, Präsentation