Next up in our look at OpenStreetMap communities around the world is today’s discussion with several OSMers in the Czech Republic. For those who don’t know, the very first State of the Map CZ+SK will be taking place on 21st of May in Brno! It was a pleasure to have a chance to hear from several different members of the community, many thanks to Pavel Zbytovský (also known by OSM username zby-cz) for organising the discussion. 

1. Who are you and what do you do? What got you into OpenStreetMap?

  • zby-cz: Czech OpenStreetMap community may be around 30 people in the core (for details, see and we have another let say 100 active mappers and supporters.

  • Tom.K: There are or were several large project in CZ OSM community - whole country is covered by address points in OSM, we managed to import roads, waterways and right now, there are several project regarding tourist routes.

  • msuchy: from the other point of view, there is 4500 people who owns more than 10 elements, so their edits was likely neither vandalism nor some random edits.

  • MariánK: but the question is who of these are Czechs - someone from Poland, Slovakia, Austria or Germany did some changes a bit after borders with CZ and for this he (or she) is part of OSM CZ? :-D

2. What would you say is the current state of OSM and the OSM community in the Czech Republic?

  • Marián: We are working on our national portal (or for shorter domain name). There are a lot things we want to implement. The most visible is probably the Active layer - JSON tiles containing additional data about POIs on map. So you can see more than just that this is an restaurant with name “U Nováků”. You can see opening hours (if present in OSM), website, contact email…

  • PavelM: OSM is fully usable as a map for car and for orientation in cities/towns. We are now working on routing and mapping outside towns.

3. What are the unique challenges and pleasures of OpenStreetMap in the Czech Republic? What aspects of the projects should the rest of the world be aware of?

  • msuchy: Czech Republic has one of oldest and most dense network of marked tourist routes (38 500 km). Mapping these routes into OSM was originally very sparse, so we decided to use taskmanager from HOT and divided the whole country (78 000 km^2 !!!) to 10.000 squares and we go one after another and check/map all of them. Right now, we are on 53% of mapped squares and it would be nice to finish the work by the end of this year.

  • Tom.K: Czech community (as well as Slovak one AFAIK) is quite small, but consists of highly motivated and technically skilled people (mostly IT and/or GIS guys). This enables us to did and do some tasks like whole country address imports making the CZ part of OSM more consistent and highly detailed compared to other countries.

4. In May for the first time there will be a State of the Map CZ+SK. What are your hopes for the event?

  • MariánK: To see each other and discuss an establishing of official OSM CZ organization.

  • Tom.K: This is one possibility to meet face to face for bigger groups than local city community (which makes pub events every few months at least in Brno and Prague). This can educate and motivate people to more actively participate in local and/or global scope project within OSM.

5. What steps could the global OpenStreetMap community take to help support OSM in the Czech Republic?

  • msuchy: It would be nice to make automatic imports much easier. Mainly for smaller local datasets.

  • PavelM: Exactly. Import mailing list seems to be more “make sure no imports happen” mailing list.

  • Tom.K: Maybe the question is whether OSM is a global platform for local communities of global project as a whole. In a lot aspects, we do stuff in our way which may not be the same as in other countries but this does not have to be a bad thing or a problem. For example, it seems to me, that nobody cares about OSMF in Czech Republic :-)

6. In 2014 OSM celebrated its 10th birthday, where do you think the project will be in 10 years time, both globally and in CZ specifically?

  • msuchy: Almost for sure it will be something we could not imagine right now. In past I could not imagine how OSM would map the whole world in details and how many applications using OSM data there would be 10 years ago. But if I could pretend to make a small prophecy, I would say that in 10 years, it will make no business sense to build proprietary datasets and most of commercial users will take data from OSM.

  • PavelM: In 2020, Microsoft will switch to OpenStreetMap, followed by Nokia and pretty much everyone else. In 2024, last holdout, Google, will switch as well. :-). Hopefully, we’ll have map fully usable for hiking (including marked trails) by 2024. I’d like to have specialized maps (for horseback riding) usable at that point, too.

  • Tom.K: Everybody speaks about what will change in 10 years. I would be happy if it still will be fun to map and work with OSM. I see the wide spread and commercial interests as possible threat for openness, friendliness. We can take the experience from evolve of other successful projects - for me a good example may be Linux operating system.

Great answers everyone - especially love the “I would be happy if it still will be fun to map and work with OSM” comment. Congratulations on organising the first SotM for your region, I hope it is a great success. Anyone looking to learn more should follow @osmcz on twitter. All good wishes to the Czech OpenStreetMap community

You can see all the Open Geo interviews here. If you are or know of someone we should interview, please get in touch, we’re always looking to promote people doing interesting things with open geo data.