A few weeks ago I was discussing the progress of mapping the UK at one of the London OSM pub meetups (Harry picked up on it in his diary entry for the evening). I was making the point that we’re making great progress, and if things continue as they are then most towns and villages will be mapped in 12 months time. Now we’ve certainly heard that before (Steve Coast was targetting summer 2008 if I recall) but my guesstimates are based on weekly road length analysis that I’ve seen and I’m currently working on making public.
But leaving things to take their due course is the easy way out, and I think we can do most of the remaining work this summer if we collectively put our minds to it. What would that involve? Well, a few dozen mapping parties would be a good start, since there are only currently two scheduled (Witham and Maidstone). CloudMade had been sponsoring a few mapping parties in the past, but that seems to have fizzled out, so it’s up to the community to sort things out ourselves. A good source of ideas for places is the UK Mapping Priorities and Secondary Priorities pages. I’ve been updating the former over the last week, and it’s impressive how many places have been mapped over the last six months. But there are some glaring problem areas – anyone want to organise a Darlington party?
What else beyond parties? Publicity is something we’ve been reasonably poor at over the years. Getting in the press is a good way to “prime the pump” for gaining new members, and probably encouraging people who might have looked before to look again. We can just make random “press releases” about all kinds of things we do – that’s what everyone else does! I’ve just gone looking on the wiki for previous press releases, and they are woefully lacking. Whilst it’s great to get coverage in the national press, I think we should be aiming for all the local papers that struggle to find anything interesting to print. Of course, if we had those two dozen mapping parties they would be a good excuse for releases. But beyond that, lots and lots of blogging, discussing on forums and things like that. Just try to find ways to put the word out. I’m selling promotional stickers in the OpenCycleMap shop – any more ideas like that? We could get some funding or fundraising for more leaflets to hand out, or for organising stalls at trade shows, or for buying another banner, or buying our own aerial imagery.
And when we have all these new people, we’ll have more awesome tools for them. Grant is sorting out the wiki onto new, faster hardware, and I’ve been finding time to work on Potlatch2. More development helps, so if you’re that way inclined I’d love to have you helping. But it’s completely plausible to finish the UK road network this summer if we get organised and get motivated. Who’s up for the challenge?