Play StreetCred to Improve OSM

Randy Meech - December 20, 2019

Last week, we launched StreetCred, a global OSM-based game anyone can play, and we’ve been happy to see positive engagement from the OpenStreetMap community:

What we launched last week was the latest version of a project we’ve been working on for some time⁠: an app that makes it easy to create and update POI data. We spent our first year developing a game where users could add map data in exchange for Bitcoin prizes. In order to refine the product, we tested it out in cities like New York, Austin, and Los Angeles, where we rapidly collected and improved tens of thousands of points of interest. While focusing on these cities, we kept in mind how we might roll out globally, as well as how we might support open data generally.

After announcing StreetCred’s launch, we received a number of questions about how the game actually works with OSM. Below are the most common questions we’ve gotten, along with our answers. Feel free to reach out if you have any other concerns⁠—we always appreciate hearing from the OSM community!

How does this data improve OpenStreetMap?

First, some background. I’m a relatively longtime member of the OpenStreetMap community. I’ve done some edits, but my engagement has mainly been from the business side. In 2010, I announced MapQuest’s support of the project, which I believe was the earliest large corporate engagement with OSM. In 2013 I founded Mapzen, an open source/open data project now part of the Linux Foundation. In 2015 I gave a talk at State of the Map called “O.S.M.B.A. The History and Future of Companies in OpenStreetMap” which is still up on video (much to my embarrassment).

This experience has led me to believe that importing data into OSM isn’t the best approach for a company to take. While there have been some successful and useful imports to be sure, I’ve seen companies take the wrong early steps here, and understand how importing isn’t always appreciated by the community. OpenStreetMap, in its ideal form, is a dataset curated by local communities.

That’s why StreetCred will never attempt to import data directly into OSM. I’ve always admired more nuanced, supportive approaches like Mapillary’s, where they provide imagery to the community to help improve data quality under a compatible license, but retain the ability to offer a commercial product. This makes a lot of sense to me.

Last October, we released a vector tileset of the StreetCred data with a compatible license. This doesn’t include all the attributes we collect for a POI (most of which is not collected in OSM anyway), just the name, location, and the StreetCred category. Users can use this vector layer to help them add POI data in iD or JOSM. There's plenty we can do here to make it easier and more compatible with OSM, and we're happy to take feedback. As the app evolves, we hope this provides a fun and valuable tool for the for OpenStreetMap community.

Why can’t I log in to StreetCred with OSM?

This has been our biggest piece of feedback, both publicly and privately. We’re working on it, and we plan to release an OSM login in the coming months. When we were running contests for Bitcoin, it was important to us to have some kind of external source of identity, and since we were targeting general consumers who were new to mapping, we thought Google and Facebook would be sufficient. This is no longer the case, so we fully plan to support OSM as an auth provider as soon as possible. We hope this doesn’t deter you from trying out the app.

Are you GDPR compliant?

We’re pleased to announce an updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Service that make us fully GDPR compliant! We created our previous version back when we were focused on US cities, and we were so excited to get the word out that we made our announcement before we updated our terms:

The good news? That’s all fixed now and we are ready to comply with GDPR, which we agree is an important and useful framework.

Why aren’t you localized in my language?

Before changing most of the app to support the new game, we translated the copy into several major Southeast Asian languages. In early January, those changes will show up in the app, and we’ll make sure to update the global community. We’ll also support several European languages. Let us know if you want to see StreetCred in your language!

What about the Bitcoin?

This has been a frequent question too! We're looking at ways to inject prizes of different forms into the app; look for news in this space. We're trying to do something fun and rewarding for everyone as we help solve the global POI problem.