A Summer of Not Pissing off the OpenStreetMap Community

A Summer of Not Pissing off the OpenStreetMap Community

The much-anticipated open Summer of code (#oSoc17) has finally begun! Yes, summer, that season that I’ve only fully experienced for the fourth time now. As an international student from Trinidad, that’s one general hurdle, but now to more specific things. As a mobility sciences master student, it’s my main goal to find my way and purpose among a large group of coders. After being photographed for our very own wall of fame, we shuttled into the Trinidad room (definitely felt very much at home at that point) of the Selor tower with a magnificent view of Brussels. In that room we began our orientation on the why’s and how’s.

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Coming from a not so technical development background and being among hardcore coders (I mean really serious ones bringing along their angry looking computer keyboards), I had to reassure myself that everything would be fine. Though, when I became more familiar with my project, it became clear to me that my role would be more having that helicopter view on the project and advising my team. My project deals with topics that interest me a lot: urban cycling, mapping, and cartography. I love maps and playing around with them in geographical information systems (GIS). This should be fun!

During the introductory speeches by the #oSoc17 organisers, there were useful take-home messages. Firstly, we should say what we do and do what we say! Therefore, we should keep our word. On the other hand and in a way departing from the rigid constraints of being grounded in the sombre realities of not exaggerating, we were given an introduction to pitching our projects. We will have to make it seem like the best thing since sliced bread by bragging a bit about our capabilities and the bright vision that we try to get at.

After feeling more confident in my ability to tackle the project with my two teammates, we got a dose of reality. Our project involves the integration of bike route data from the Brussels Capital Region’s government in the OpenStreetMap. They are also our clients…Which means they are now the real bosses! At first glance we would have to just simply carry out a wholesale removal and injection of the seemingly superior Brussels data into OSM through a steamrolling, taking no prisoners algorithm. All of that seemed straightforward but because of the nature of our project, this means we will have another equally important boss: the community of contributors of OpenStreetMap. Now things get complicated, and in the second day of our month-long endeavour, we will discover more hurdles.

A brief preview of what we’re up against: OSM (blue) vs Brussels data (red)

Pasted image at 2017_07_04 11_04 AM

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