Wednesday, March 31, 2010

12/30/2009, three months ago

The project started its launch last monday 03/29/2010. Before this D-Day, here is a small history of the project.

During the christmas break 2009, I sent an email to Hans-Jörg, the inititiator of I just found my original mail:
I find your initiative openaddresses very interesting.
I'd like to know if you think that it could be valuable to store the adresses in OSM instead of openaddresses. OSM offers the possibility to store addresses ( OSM offers a large exposure, but still lacks of practical tool for address creation and management. So, openaddresses can act as address entry point to OSM and offers easy to use editing address functions (with convenient reference data).
And the final goal is for both projects to have a large, up to date and free data set to offer.
What is your point about that ?

This was the start of the story of The concept was well defined, but several things had to be done:
- Setup wiki, discussion group, mailing list
- Define a data model
- Setup servers
- Implement a new version with new technologies
- Translate in several languages
- Prepare the press releases and the launch
- Write documentation
- Test, test, test

But the most important thing was the ability to convince other persons to join the community. And here, we are very far of the technical aspects. It's only a question of personal relationships or networking. Steffi, Jean-Luc, Jeff, Lukas, Lucca, Lars, Yves and Yves J. are all persons that Hans-Jörg or I already knew. The fantastic thing is that I don't remember to have a big disagreement. All the discussions were very open and found general answers. This also probably means that the general concept was not so bad.

Since the launch went beyond our expectations (hundred of tweets, dozen of blogs, more than 5000 unique visitors in less than 3 days), we face several challenges for the next steps of OpenAddresses:

- The OpenAddresses community has to grow. For me, the reason is quite simple: we need to convince addresses owner to donate their addresses. The only way that I see is to have local contacts in order to spread the word. I simply want to state: EVERYONE SHARING THE SAME OPEN PHILOSOPHY IS WELCOME IN THE OPENADDRESSES COMMUNITY !

- The relation with OSM has to be clarified. Several discussions occurred and we need to handle the licensing and synchronisation aspects. OpenAddresses needs to work nicely with OpenStreetMap and I strongly believe that it is in the interest of both projects. I would be so happy that some OpenStreetMap members help us to clarify these aspects and help us to create this successful collaboration. The key point is that we share the same goal.

- The version 1 has to be launched. We received several feedbacks and, after the BETA, we have to launch the first release of OpenAddresses. By analyzing the site statistics, we can probably improve the communication. It appears that visitors comes mainly from central Europe. We should be able to reach persons of all around the world.

- But, the key point is to obtain free and open addresses. In two days, we received about 4.5 millions of new addresses. We need to take contact, ask the good persons convince of the benenefits (don't you like this search tool ?) etc...

- And we have to find some sponsoring. Everyone invested a lot of private time, but there is still some money to find in order to pay the hosting, for example.

I look forward for the three next months. Sure that it will be interesting ;-)

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