4 min

How OEMs Can Become Part of the OpenStreetMap Community

Discover how to become an active member of the OSM community so you can access and safeguard the huge benefits offered by the opensource free mapping data project.


23 May, 2023

With its thriving and diverse community, the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project attracts voluntary talent from all walks of life and sectors. From Geographic Information Systems professionals and amateur mappers through to humanitarians charting disaster zones, over six million registered users are committed to leveraging the huge potential offered by OSM’s opensource mapping.

Just as importantly, many users adopt a ‘take and give’ approach whether they are individual users or entire organizations. This means as well as using the service’s mapping data, they also actively support OSM’s continued evolution by providing their own data to enhance the service’s community maps.

For OEMs considering leveraging the free mapping source for their automotive navigation software, it is vital to align with this ‘give back’ model. Not only does it help improve the OSM offering, but it also demonstrates a corporate commitment to the community itself. In turn, this removes the risk of being seen as a business simply exploiting the free service to secure ‘cheap maps’.

However, the question is – how can OEMs start using the service as well as deliver on the ‘give back’ commitment?

Pitch your OSM project first before executing

As an organization, the process differs from that established for individual users because your inputs are likely to have a far more significant impact on OSM. For example, to embark on an editing project to enhance or correct existing data (see below), OSM representatives advise you create a Wiki page in the first instance. This should detail the scope of your organized edits project, its intended goals, your contact details, and more.

Once set up, related OSM communities should be informed and given two weeks to submit their responses. During this time, you must be responsive and open when dealing with any queries or feedback, even criticisms. Short term, such a transparent approach is vital for securing community support. In the long term, it helps to build trust and goodwill – two core tenets behind OSM’s ongoing success.

Alternatively, you can choose to skip this stage and dive right in. However, be warned – if criticisms should arise within the affected communities about your project, your activity can be stopped, even reverted. You should also factor in the likely reputation damage to your brand, which in turn will impact on how your future OSM projects will be received by the community. For a full set of organized editing guidelines, head here.

How to leverage OSM’s rich datasets

Once the affected communities have had their questions or criticisms successfully addressed, you’re ready to go. There are several resources and tools available to use:

OSM Foundation

In the first instance, consider joining the OSM Foundation, the not-for-profit organization that supports the OpenStreetMap project. While you are not required to, you can join as a Corporate Member to demonstrate your support for OSM. There are different membership levels starting at €500 annually, plus you’ll be in good company with industry heavyweights including Microsoft who are already fully signed up members.

OpenStreetMap webpage

This is the flagship website of the OSM project. Here you can create your OSM user profile – though, as already stated, organizations should pitch individual projects first before beginning any editing work.

OpenStreetMap Wiki

The official Wiki is an essential resource for learning about anything and everything related to the OSM world. From statistics and best practices to map features, this is the ideal jumping off point for learning how and where to begin on your OSM journey.


An example of a powerful third party desktop application for OSM editing, JOSM gives you full access to the platform’s database with all the attributes and layers related to the specific area you’re working on included. However, it requires pro-level knowledge of how OSM works to successfully leverage. For a simpler start, try StreetComplete or for beginners using Android, use OSMAnd or

How NNG is supporting the OSM project

We are already working in partnership with the OSM community and are committed to giving back. For example, we regularly conduct field tests to validate OSM’s existing community maps as well as inform our own datasets. If our field testers discover deviations in OSM data – such as raw data errors – we report the issues back to the community and resolve them using JOSM.

Our long-term goal is to establish an automated flow between drivers and NNG – and then on to OSM – so any deviations and new mapping details can be resolved or implemented as quickly as possible. It’s an aim we believe will also benefit your automotive navigation software.

It’s why we recommend joining forces with NNG so we can not only help guide you on your own OSM journey – but also produce more in-depth and macro-level mapping data cost-effectively for your navigation solutions. Most importantly, together we can help foster and build trust between the commercial and voluntary worlds – so we can all deliver better, safer navigation data that benefits everyone.

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