Mapper of the Month: Lorenzo Stucchi (Italy)

- Pierre Parmentier

His homepage and his contribution page.

Hello! Would you like to briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, I am Lorenzo Stucchi, on OpenStreetMap as LorenzoStucchi.
I am a PhD student in Environmental Engineering at Politecnico di Milano in Italy. I am also, since 2021, the national coordinator of volunteers for OpenStreetMap for Wikimedia Italia1, the Italian local chapter of the OpenStreetMap Foundation. I am also part of the officiers of PoliMappers2.
How and when did you get to know OpenStreetMap?
I first got in touch with OpenStreetMap during a Geographic Information System course in my bachelor’s degree, but I was using it as a client. OpenStreetMap was just one of the available backgrounds in the created maps. However, I was curious to discover more about that. In the same year, a presentation of OpenStreetMap and YouthMappers was organised at the university. During that event, in November 2016, PoliMappers was founded, and I decided to enter the board. In the following events of PoliMappers, I discovered more about OpenStreetMap, remote mapping and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. In 2018, as PoliMappers, we presented our works at an Italian conference, MERGE-IT. It was the first offline contact with the Italian community and Wikimedia Italia. Also, in 2018, I got in touch with the global community during the State Of The Map 2018 held in Milano, where I volunteered.
How do you use OpenStreetMap?
I often use OpenStreetMap in my research as input data for testing some models or as background for some produced maps. Moreover, I like to be in contact with the community. So, I also use it to create connections and meet new people.
What kind of contributor are you and in which area do you map?
I am active but would like to be more involved in the mapping. I spend at least half an hour or one hour a day for OpenStreetMap, but mainly planning activities for the community. Due to my role as coordinator for Wikimedia Italia, I try to be a contact point for the community and others interested in the project. When I map, I generally do it during the PoliMappers event, so mainly remote mapping. Or I map around my home town, close to Milano.
What are you mapping? Do you have a specialisation?
I worked on my master’s thesis and one year later on a project called ViaLibera?!3. The project was focused on mapping the accessibility of some areas of the city of Milano, with the support of schools and with the validation of people with physical disabilities. I became quite an expert in the topic, and I was able during my work to educate around 60 high school students about this kind of mapping. Moreover, the mapping has also been included in the Collaborative and Humanitarian Mapping course4 I collaborated on organising at the Politecnico di Milano. During the sixth lesson, around 20 students contributed mapping on this topic.
What is your greatest achievement as mapper?
It is really encouraging that the methodology that I defined for the mapping of accessibility in the cities has been used in other cities around the world. And new tools have been developed to help this kind of mapping and the usage of those data. Also, the same mapping has been continued in Milan thanks to the municipality agencies AMAT, which integrates directly into OpenStreetMap their surveys. Moreover, they are also going to create tools to identify the most critical areas to proceed and then fix the kerbs and the sidewalks.
Why are you mapping? What motivates you?
Since the start of my journey in OpenStreetMap , all the mapping activities have been a community moment. I always like the idea that the project is more than just a database, it is a community with a common goal. So, the organisation of mapping parties has always been a great motivation for the mapping activity.
Also, a great motivation is always the appreciation of the other mappers and contributors. For example, in 2015, a collaboration between Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and professors and PhDs at Politecnico taught two hundred 10-year-old children how to map buildings. During the event, more than 5000 buildings were mapped in eSwatini5. Four years later, in a talk during State Of The Map 2019, the presenter thanked this contribution6. It was important for his research. I believe this is the great power of OpenStreetMap, creating data for future projects.
Do you have any ideas to expand the OpenStreetMap community, to motivate more people to contribute?
I believe that it is always important to motivate the community. The global events are always a great occasion to meet other mappers from all over the world. However, they could be too expensive or complex to reach, considering that almost all the mappers are volunteers. So, I believe that national or local meetings and mapping parties are essential to create and bring the community together. As Wikimedia Italia, we organise the OSMIt every year, a one-day event for the community. Generally, it is on the Saturday, after the FOSS4G-IT. In 2023, it was held in Bari in June. Also, we promote and financially support the meeting of local communities.
Do you have contact with other mappers?
Yes. Since my activities as a volunteer coordinator, I have always tried to be always in touch with other mappers. They could contact me by Telegram or on OpenStreetMap. Also, they could write to me at lorenzo dot stucchi at wikimedia dot it.
If they have some project in mind, we always try to create connections to start those projects.
Also, I am frequently contacted for missing attribution. Some years ago, I launched this repository on GitHub to quickly report the missing attribution7. In two years, more than 90 issues were open, and more than 90% have been fixed.
What is in your view the greatest strength of OpenStreetMap?
As I said before, OpenStreetMap is not only a database but a community of people who decide to use their free time to create data and tools to use them. The community is the most vital value of OpenStreetMap, and I saw that we are often unable to valorise it.
What are the largest challenges for OpenStreetMap?
The first challenge I see is accepting new beginner mappers in the project. People are arriving when the database already contains a lot of information in multiple parts of the world. It is not easy to put your hands on and learn all the tags. When we talk to new mappers, I believe that it is fundamental to remind us about the errors we made in the past.
Also, the new mappers are new energy for the project. If we are not able to include them, we are going to lose new energy, and we are going to lose the original soul of OpenStreetMap.
Also, there will be for sure other technological challenges that we will need to face in the next years. Moreover, with new OSMers — not only mappers —, I am sure we will be prepared and ready to meet these challenges.
How to do stay on top of news about OpenStreetMap?
I try to follow the Italian — Telegram, forum and mailing list — and the local community channels. Also, the international mailing list of the OpenStreetMap Foundation. Moreover, the main source I try to follow is the WeeklyOSM, which, in a couple of years, we will be able to return to be translated into Italian.
To conclude, is there anything else you want to share with the readers?
Remember that OpenStreetMap is not only about mapping but is also about community, so people could have experiences different than yours, but they will for sure put the same passion as you into what they are doing. So, try to be kind and listen to other people. If you fight, you will only lose your time. Instead, if you merge your experiences, the project will improve.

Thank you, Lorenzo, for this interview.