Corporate Editors in the Evolving Landscape of OpenStreetMap

Johnson
Friday, 2:15 PM – 5 min
Jennings Anderson

OSM is characterized both by its map as well as the active community of the millions of mappers who produce it. Recently, many large corporations have been hiring editors to contribute to the OSM database.

We recently explored the influence these corporate editors are having on the map by first considering the history of corporate involvement in the community and then analyzing historical quarterly-snapshot OSM-QA-Tiles to show where and what these corporate editors are mapping. We found that cumulatively, millions of corporate edits have a global footprint, but corporations vary in geographic reach, edit types, and quantity. While corporations currently have a major impact on road networks, non-corporate mappers edit more buildings and points-of-interest: representing the majority of all edits, on average.

Corporate editors represent just the latest stage in the evolution of corporate involvement. We therefore raise questions about how the OSM community—and researchers—might proceed as corporate editing grows and evolves as a mechanism for expanding the map for multiple uses.