[OSM-talk] Facebook mapping highways using AI in collaboration with OpenStreetMap

Andy Townsend ajt1047 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 26 14:52:44 UTC 2019

On 26/07/2019 11:54, Mike N wrote:
> On 7/26/2019 4:34 AM, Christoph Hormann wrote:
>> The corporate appropriation of OpenStreetMap
> I'm not a corporate wonk, but I'll note that in my region, "Amazon 
> Logistics" is effectively solving the Last Mile Mapping problem: how 
> to include driveways into routing.
>   [ I'm well aware that the Amazon mappers are not perfect and have 
> made newbie errors in other regions ]
That's an excellent comparison to make.  One key difference is that 
Amazon's mappers have been very reactive when it was made clear to them 
that the way that they were mapping things with (in the UK) incorrect 
access tags, and have since tried to ensure that they're doing it right 
(see e.g. https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/jguthula/diary/390322 ).  
There will still be issues - Amazon's mappers are working with GPS 
traces and imagery, but no local knowledge, so they will get things 
wrong, but if everyone works together the combination of local mappers' 
local knowledge and Amazon's mappers' willingness to spend hours adding 
otherwise boring service roads and farm tracks should be to everyone's 

This is in stark contrast to Facebook's approach.  Again and again 
they've been told what their licence of OSM data requires them to do, 
and again and again they have not done it.  Again and again they were 
told that their mapping was garbage, and while they have improved the 
data quality of later additions (in Thailand) they have done nothing to 
clean up the existing mess - it was left for the community and/or the 
DWG to tidy up.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll be aware of Facebook's 
other corporate actions over the last year or so and the reputational 
damage that it has caused them (see e.g. 
).  That doesn't mean that individual people working for Facebook can't 
be nice people and some of the tools they create can't be useful, but it 
does mean that OSM needs to be careful that it's reputation isn't 
tarnished by being associated with a corporate pariah* such as Facebook.

A statement from the board (or the LWG, if the LWG is looking at it 
rather than the board) about the issues raised here by Nuno over the 
last few months would be a start - either "we believe that Facebook's 
OSM data usage is in compliance with the licence" or "we believe it 
isn't and are trying to change it".  The OSMF has made a decision to 
have Facebook as one of 6 gold corporate members listed at 
https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Corporate_Members , so without any 
clarification an outside observer would think that the OSMF fully 
supports Facebook both in terms of data use and their "contributions" in 
e.g. Egypt and Thailand, and approves of the use of OSM's brand to 
bolster Facebook's excremental reputation.

Best Regards,


(writing, as is usual on this list, in an entirely personal capacity)

* far from the only example, of course, and even some organisations set 
up "purely to do good" have struggled with reputational management 
recently - see e.g. 

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