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Measuring data quality or why are we even Openstreetmaping anyway?


Jean-Marc Liotier

Within the foundation changed into once the empty plan and other individuals began filing it. Their targets dangle been sure: n°1 having fun, n°2 world domination. Records scarcity saved every person from being too picky — moderately great anything else is better than nothing… Supreme dangle within the blanks !

Then some adventurous ones began to make a selection out that miraculously produced data: customers — they spell ache, some of them even dangle expectations ! But that is now not our ache: we solely develop the data and it is free gadget, in narrate that they will repair it for themselves. And who are these other individuals anyway ? They don’t even belong to the club !

Then the ground shook — I imply actually: in 2010, within the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, each and each Openstreetmap and the world grew to change into attentive to one one more:

– Openstreetmap: “Wait, what ? Other folks would possibly per chance well truly accept this vital ?”

– World: “Wait, what ? Free geographical data that would truly meet our desires ?”

Humanitarian usage took the highlight, however the typical most likely didn’t ruin out wider consideration. There changed into once a feeling within the air that Openstreetmap had change into relevant outside of Openstreetmap — that we had change into vaguely responsible for something which, for lack of fantastic metrics, remained a fuzzy theory.

Constructive, however how does this short and a tiny fantasized history of Openstreetmap dangle anything else to slay with measuring data fantastic ? We’ll soon come to that, however let’s commence with defining fantastic. There are many strategies to clarify fantastic — some hovering beyond the stratosphere, way within the astral plane, akin to Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Constructive developed in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I made the mistake of finding out with out a concomitant intake of mind-altering substances. I’ll moderately resolve a in actuality abundant definition: successfully being for motive, which equates fantastic with the achievement of a specification or acknowledged outcomes. In other words, fantastic measures whether or now not the product meets its targets.

So, what are Openstreetmap’s targets ? I’ll commence with classifying them between within targets and external targets. Openstreetmap being formally incorporated within the Openstreetmap basis, its within targets are clearly outlined in the objects of its articles of association: “to abet the growth, vogue and distribution of free geospatial data, to offer geospatial data for somebody to utilize and fragment”. That one changed into once straightforward. The external targets are those originating from the the rest of the world. Certain, which way customers and now you know why I started this text with a short memoir of Openstreetmap meets customers: with out a customers there’s never this sort of thing as an idea of fantastic.

This morning, Openstreetmap Cameroon’s Willy Franck Voice, who’s launching Geosm (a marvelous geographic data distribution portal), gathered a bunch of African Openstreetmap contributors to brainstorm about contemporary collaboration avenues — incidentally this is what kicked me in gear to accept this text, long lingering among overlooked drafts, out of the door. I had the pleasure to stare consensus relating to the must enhance the venerable link between Openstreetmap and patrons — the ache is within the relief of every person’s mind. But the easy solution is inaccurate: we can solely reach to the slay-customers we dangle already received in gaze and bringing them onboard will mostly increase what we already know from the present relationship. We’re caught within the Openstreetmap neighborhood ghetto. To plan Openstreetmap extra priceless to actual customers, we dangle to interrupt out into their world. Now, this appears to be like acquainted — it is miles a marketing ache.

A “plan it and they’re going to come” way has served Openstreetmap successfully to this level — cheerful ignorance of customers offered freedom to experiment and accept a route. When the market is fleet transferring to unknown grounds, it is miles the normal way. At this level, I in actuality feel an awful urge to paraphrase Simon Wardley’s Pioneers, Settlers, Town Planners mannequin, a inferior temptation I’ll eschew by pasting his possess work right here:

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Simon Wardley — Pioneers, Settlers, Town Planners

So, Openstreetmap is inviting from the Pioneers stage to the Settlers stage — those are the growing anxiety that we dangle been feeling and for this reason the view that of ecosystem is now on every person’s mind.

Per Wardley, the Settlers stage requires market diagnosis, strategies, vogue spotting, being attentive to customers… None of that are what the highest Openstreetmap other persons are in particular proficient at — and which capability that, Openstreetmap say marketing is ineffective. But some companies are extremely ethical at that, which is why they thrived — and a few of them use Openstreetmap data. Letting Openstreetmap leverage their journey is indirect marketing. Openstreetmap has distributors, whose seen appendages are websites and cell apps — they symbolize Openstreetmap to a patrons that will now not in particular care about Openstreetmap. Reside you care that a Linux working system served this text ? Now not in particular: you appropriate mandatory to read the article. Though you would possibly per chance well be cheerful that a free and commence working system lets developers collaborate to ship you a ample journey, it is in actuality appropriate some distance within the background.

That game spells developers developers developers developers ! So we’re relief to the core reality of Openstreetmap: Openstreetmap is a platform for developers, now not a carrier to patrons. And herein lies a profound fault between perceptions of the Openstreetmap Foundation’s mission: must still it make a selection extra with patrons ? Certain, because patrons are what this is all about — however within the slay no, because Openstreetmap’s mannequin is indirect distribution. The burden of connecting with the client falls on developers — now not appropriate gadget developers however the broader kind: industry developers. That does repeat us something relating to the Openstreetmap Foundation’s mission though: the productization of Openstreetmap implies the rise and dominance of corporate involvement, so defending the license and spirit of Openstreetmap will solely change into extra most well-known within the approaching years.

With all those circonvolutions, how will we come relief to the ache of measuring data fantastic ? We don’t — it is all on you ! Free gadget begins with “scratch your possess itch” and it is miles the the same whether or now not I desire a marvelous plan to topic my bicycle adventures on or whether or now not Fb desires a more cost-effective plan background: know your customers, whether or now not they’re billions or appropriate you.

Above all, abandon the semblance that there’s an Openstreetmap neighborhood that cares about patrons — each and each of which, in this context, are too fuzzily outlined for dimension and must still therefore yield no operational insights. Openstreetmap contributors who surprise about client-perceived fantastic are exactly an answer trying for a ache: negative cost.

With that angle, would Openstreetmap dangle began at all ? No, however that changed into once the Pioneer stage — Openstreetmap has moved on and so dangle its motives.

So commence with customers, explicit a ache, solve it — perchance with Openstreetmap data… After which fantastic metrics would possibly per chance per chance be glaring since the targets are sure. As long as we toddle at it backwards, there would possibly per chance per chance be no fantastic. Bring out your client use cases, they’re the provision of reality !

A month ago on Twitter, Allan Mustard challenged me to open the ball rolling about Openstreetmap fantastic metrics — I believed I would possibly per chance well be beginning a working team. That is how I started writing this text. Now that I truly dangle written it, I will potentially now not be beginning an Openstreetmap fantastic metrics working team: fantastic metrics are inappropriate to Openstreetmap as a whole — they’re intimately linked to consumption and therefore to applications. Utilization principles !

Now I’m off to plan the plan vital for using my bicycle — I’ll add water towers and pylons because they plan fantastic landmarks for navigating !

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