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Google Open Source Wikipedia Technology

Wikipedia Mobile Apps Switch To OpenStreetMap 166

Posted by timothy
from the location-aware dept.
Techdirt reports that the latest versions of Wikipedia's mobile apps have switched to OpenStreetMap from Google Maps. Says Techdirt's commentary: "One wonders how Google didn't see this coming — or if they did, what exactly their strategy is here. OpenStreetMap is gaining a lot of momentum, and in some areas even features much better data. The real lesson here is that there's never an incumbent that isn't at risk of being unseated, no matter how widespread the adoption of their product or service—especially if they make an anti-customer decision like Google when it put a price tag on Maps. The situation also points to the long-term strength of open solutions: while a crowdsourced system like OpenStreetMap never could have put together a global mapping product as quickly as Google did, over time it has become a serious competitor in terms of both quality and convenience."
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Wikipedia Mobile Apps Switch To OpenStreetMap

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  • Danger Google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GeneralTurgidson (2464452) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:37AM (#39612279)
    If this and DuckDuckGo start gaining momentum google may find itself in Altavista's shoes.
    • Re:Danger Google (Score:4, Informative)

      by lastx33 (2097770) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:57AM (#39612391)

      If this and DuckDuckGo start gaining momentum google may find itself in Altavista's shoes.

      I agree. Have already switched to DuckDuckGo and it's a breath of fresh air to miss out on the ads and not worry about being tracked. I have contributed to OpenStreetMap and have seen the content on it it grow over the last couple of years at a terrific rate. It has the potential to be an absolute goldmine of information as more people contribute gps tracks and local points of interest.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Honky please.

      I'm sure Google is shaking in its shoes over yet another two open source projects doomed to failure. With rare exception, open source projects end up half assed, 90% feature complete, and skip implementation of anything difficult. The "it's good enough" approach.

      Please, show me an open source project that truly rivals Gmail. Do it. One that implements ALL of the features. Including collaborative antispam, Ajax, contacts, archiving. Come on.

      And show me how DuckDuckGo's algorithms match Google's.

      • Re:Danger Google (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sique (173459) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @11:08AM (#39612745) Homepage

        With rare exception, software projects end up half assed, 90% feature complete, and skip implementation of anything difficult. The "it's good enough" approach.

        There. Fixed thad for you.

      • Re:Danger Google (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @11:10AM (#39612755) Journal

        Please, show me an open source project that truly rivals Gmail. Do it. One that implements ALL of the features. Including collaborative antispam, Ajax, contacts, archiving. Come on.

        Do one thing, do it well. If you do things the UNIX way, you can easily beat the features and convenience of Gmail.

        And show me how DuckDuckGo's algorithms match Google's. Oh and where's the autocomplete?

        Google's results are crappy these days. And I don't need help typing, thanks.

        • by Culture20 (968837)

          Do one thing, do it well. If you do things the UNIX way, you can easily beat the features and convenience of Gmail.

          If you're only doing one thing, you get one feature, and no conjunction. The other features and any convenience will have to be done by separate projects that the user can pipe together if they want.

          • by Culture20 (968837)
            To further elaborate, the only reason I'm not still using (al)pine is because of enigmail for thunderbird. Now that no one I know uses pgp/gpg anymore, I may go back to pine, encrypting stuff manually when absolutely needed. Sometimes it's nice to have programs that do more than one thing, even if they do them half-arsed.
        • If you do things the UNIX way, you can easily beat the features and convenience of Gmail.

          Good point. But if each domain's administrator has to research and cobble together tools from disparate sources and then write his own glue code, that's a strike against convenience. So what collection of UNIX-way tools do you recommend that "easily beat[s] the features and convenience of Gmail"? Say I'm running Debian or Ubuntu on a server that I administer; what all should I apt-get install? Furthermore, one still needs a server on which to run this collection of tools, and Gmail on a domain is free of ch

          • Cubemail, Squirelmail, etc all have Ajax and contact.
            Archiving is as simple as "move to archives/" to match google's
            for collaborative anti-spam (and I don't even think google's IS collaborative) you can use spam-assasin on the server, the client (thunderbird, etc), or anywhere else along the line
            for searching there is thunderbird's search or notmuch search (both of which I have used and are VERY powerful).
            for the server itself you can go with dovecot or any number of OSS mail servers.

            Bonus: many
      • Of all things, autocomplete was the one that you missed most? Really? I mean, really?
        I would understand it if you said that DuckDuckGo lacks e.g. an (own) image searching feature of searching features in general, but stuff like autocomplete are mostly fluff if you ask me. And DuckDuckGo has its own neat ideas implemented in its own algorithms. I won't argue that DuckDuckGo is better than Google (because it isn't), but its nice to have some competition around. And, no, Bing does not count (because it sucks).

    • Re:Danger Google (Score:5, Informative)

      by TeXMaster (593524) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:45AM (#39612629)
      I would like to use DDG too, but the only thing it has which is useful (at least as of now) is the zero-click info-box. The actual search results are quite horrible compared to what Google provides (probably because DDG relies essentially on Bing, which is having huge problems keeping their database in good shape).
    • by rubycodez (864176)
      does DuckDuckGo even have a sustainable and scalable business model? I think not.....it's a flash in the pan that will soon be gone
    • by IANAAC (692242)

      If this and DuckDuckGo start gaining momentum google may find itself in Altavista's shoes.

      Eh... OpenStreetMap is good for just that: street maps. It's got nothing on Google's other mapping features. Hell, it doesn't even show the lake where my cabin is at, just the streets. Google Maps offers detailed satellite and terrain imagery, for one thing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I'm not so sure its even great at that.

        For instance, when I open the map to my local region near Toronto, Toronto does not appear. Vaughan and Brampton, suburbs, do. Now admittedly, there are many "cities" in the area of Toronto, so one might suspect this has something to do with Z-layering or such.

        But, no, that does not appear to be a problem.

        At the same zoom level, far away in northern Ontario, Haileybury appears. This is a town of a few thousand people. The cites of Sudbury, about 100,000, and North Bay,

        • by beelsebob (529313)

          Score: -1; Factually incorrect.

          Toronto renders in large black letters at all zoom levels above z7. A search for toronto results in the city in canada as the first hit, and links to a page with Toronto written in the centre of it in large black letters.

        • by Hillgiant (916436)

          We all know that "Toronto" is a ridiculous liberal myth.

        • I concur. The level of map quality and usability in Australia is beyond primitive. This might be great in the US of A but I am far from impressed. I'll be sticking with Google Maps thanks. If Apple wants to move iPhone over to this (as they do, I understand) a lot of people outside the US are going to be pissed of with their iPhone's map quality (and 4G capability, presumably) - but then again my friend has an iPhone4 and his Google Maps doesn't even have Navigation - I don't know if this is simply because
          • by b0bby (201198)

            This might be great in the US of A but I am far from impressed.

            I think OSM actually started in the UK; it certainly seems to be further along there than in the US. But the tools are pretty easy; you should try fixing your neighborhood streets and see if you like it. I did, and there are some little details which most map data won't have which I added (little paths, stuff like that). It's open, it needs people to actually put in the data.
            In the UK & US, you can get Navfree (uses OSM maps) for ios & Android; I sometimes check it when I'm driving around & if I

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          More over what makes Google Maps so useful is its integration with search results and navigation. Plus you can embed maps on your site for free, which OSM can't allow because they don't have a server farm to support it.

      • If this and DuckDuckGo start gaining momentum google may find itself in Altavista's shoes.

        Eh... OpenStreetMap is good for just that: street maps. It's got nothing on Google's other mapping features. Hell, it doesn't even show the lake where my cabin is at, just the streets. Google Maps offers detailed satellite and terrain imagery, for one thing.

        Exactly. Google Maps even has the side roads and the dirt trail that my house is on, visible both in streetmap and in satellite views.

        At present, OpenStreetMap barely even shows the lake as a splotch of blue, and south of the nearby town proper it only shows the motorway. It indicates nothing but blank forest for many kilometers of exurb, where houses are typically every 50-100 meters along every road and dirt track (and there are a lot of side roads and dirt tracks). Some day, OpenStreetMap may even sho

        • And, to add creepy insult to injury, it shows every miserable two track goat path and jeep road on every ranch in west texas. right up to my front door. This is why we get those people on the news who get lost in the ass end of Utah or something, and spend a week slowly freezing to death in the mountains because they where blindly following roads they saw 'on the internets'
        • by jonbryce (703250)

          The motorway junction near me was upgraded about 2 years ago. Openstreetmaps shows the new upgraded junction, Google maps does not.

          • Have you taken the time to report this to Google? They are generally responsive to fixing things. I have reported problems covering pronunciation issues, new roads, interchange rebuilds, and misplaced pins. They always get fixed within about a month.
      • by beelsebob (529313)

        So add the lake at your cabin (should be tagged natural=water; name=); add your cabin (should be tagged building=cabin; name=; addr:streetname=; addr:housenumber=); tag the paths around it (should be tagged as highway=path or highway=footway, depending on how formal they are); tag the tracks around it (should be tagged as highway=track); add parking near by it (should be tagged amenity=parking and possibly access=private); tag the forest (should be tagged landuse=forest) surrounding the lake; ...

        All these t

      • You know you can add that lake where your cabin is, OSM has some aerial imagery that you can use to trace it out in their online editor. I have added in the various trails though the woods on the public land where I hunt. There is a fairly extensive set of ATV and hiking trails that run through the public land up there. I add stuff all the time to OSM, mostly in my town but when I go places I bring my GPS and map out trails, roads, building, landmarks, etc then upload and get it added to OSM.
    • by RKBA (622932)
      Try ixquick [ixquick.com]. I think you'll like it much better than DuckDuckGo. Also startpage [startpage.com] is pretty good and uses Google to return results.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:38AM (#39612289)

    Acquiring the data isn't the only cost. Serving tiles to millions of clients each day can't be cheap. Who pays for that, if there aren't any ads and the service is free to use?

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:49AM (#39612333) Homepage Journal

      http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tile_usage_policy [openstreetmap.org]

      (if you make an app you should mirror the stuff to your own servers.. there's couple of links to services providing tiles based on osm data there)

    • Eventually I'll just replicate the entire database on my N terabyte USB key. Really, this one isn't a problem.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:00AM (#39612409) Journal

      Actually, one of the main reasons that I use an OSM app on my phone instead of the Google Maps one (aside from the fact I don't need a corporate stalker) is that it isn't serving tiles to me. I just grab the data once and store it on my phone. That means I can use the maps with my phone's GPS when I'm out of signal range (or somewhere with only GPRS signals, where using Google Maps is a bit painful) or when I'm in a different country and the data roaming charges would make it stupidly expensive.

      The OSM data is licensed in a way that allows redistribution and the project actively encourages people to do this. Clients are allowed to aggressively cache or mirror the data, something which Google or Bing maps do not allow.

      • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:39AM (#39612599)

        What app do you use and what is your work flow? It's been about a year since I've looked into it but it just wasn't a simple. "Do This This and This". I'm going to be traveling to Germany in a few weeks and although my droid will be a useless phone (CDMA) I'd love to take it as a GPS/portable computing device.

        Thanks.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          One thing to check on: it seems that a lot of the AGPS (Assisted GPS) devices in phones these days won't work at all if they don't get a signal from the network. There were some interesting reports from folks in a few areas where their cellular networks went down for a day or two and GPS completely stopped working. So check to see if yours is one that will even work if it has no CDMA signal.
        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @11:06AM (#39612733) Journal
          I use OSMAnd. With the free version I need to grab the map files manually, although the paid one will download them from in-app. I currently have maps for northern France, Belgium, and the UK on my SD card, taking up a bit over 1GB.
          • In my experience Osmand is slow as molasses, and crash-prone (and I've got the paid version).

            • Really? My phone isn't exactly the fastest around - it's an HTC Desire, so about two years old - and redraws happen fast. It's very fast if you use tiles rather than vector maps, but that comes at the cost of either more network or storage usage. The only time it's really slow is when you find the zoom level that has half a country in it but it still tries to draw most of the road. I've never seen it crash either. Route finding could be a bit faster, but it's only a beta feature at the moment.
              • I've got a HD2, so almost exactly the same hardware. One should think that 1ghz ARM ought to be enough, had a pretty decent navigation on 400 mhz XScale and Windows Mobile years ago, just not for the bicycle. Anyway, thanks for the information about tiles, will try that out as soon as I find out, how to download tile maps instead of vector maps for offline use.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I use Locus. Paid version of Locus is awesome, although the sheer number of features makes it a little complicated for non-techies.

          Also, make sure you download the AGPS data before you leave (and periodically during your trip). You can download the free version of "GPS Status" to help you do this. Otherwise you'll have trouble getting a GPS fix abroad.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          One option is a free maps app called Locus. I used this last time I was in Europe. Used Locus to browse to the places I was going, selected the area of interest and downloaded the maps to my phone, typically the city centre in high detail and the wider city in a lower zoom level. I've done the same thing going out into the bush and onto remote islands.

          Locus gives you a choice of a variety of maps providers and with a little hack you can use it with Google maps too, though OSM does a wonderful job.

          I also tag

        • by Thomasje (709120)
          I use MapDroyd for this on my Android phone (free), and CityMaps2Go on my iPhone ($2). Both are very basic -- no navigation -- but they have nice integrated UIs for selecting and downloading maps. You won't be able to load the whole world, but I loaded NYC, all of NJ, and all of the Netherlands, using county/province level maps (which have perfect detail; I feel no need to get the city-level maps at all), and all that fits in a gigabyte or two. If you plan ahead and download only the maps for the areas you
        • by b0bby (201198)

          Try Navfree:
          https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.navfree.android.OSM.ALL [google.com]
          There's also a Navfree USA, which you can play with. They store the maps locally, and you can download just the states/countries you want. I have two issues with it - the address search is pretty bad (but if you have data I think it uses Google or something to help) and around me the maps, even the latest ones, are pretty out of date - they don't seem to actually be grabbing new OSM data when they release a map update in my

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:44AM (#39612619)

        You can cache maps using Google Maps on Android devices. I've cached the whole area around where I live and can use GPS with it without any Internet connection.

        To cache a map area click somewhere on the map, then click the little arrow on the right that shows more detail, then at the bottom you should see a button labelled "pre-cache map data".

        However, the OSM maps are far far better in my area though, which is reason enough to use them over Google Maps.

        • by b0bby (201198)

          You are limited to 10 cached areas, which might not be enough if you're traveling a lot. It's handy though, I use it when I know I'll be in an area & might not have data.

      • by Espectr0 (577637)

        You know you can use google maps in offline mode by caching the maps right? Just enable the pre-cache area plugin in labs, tap and hold on any spot, click on the balloon tip and choose pre-cache.

    • The data is free, the tiles are a bit more restricted.

  • it's not just maps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by azery (865903) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:44AM (#39612315)
    The openstreetmap project does provide a fantastic result, but for me it is lacking satellite imaging (as google does) or satellite imaging and aerial pictures (as bing/microsoft does) Having the images can be very handy... I see very often people who need to determine the distance between two points and for that, the images are easier than the maps.
    • by gQuigs (913879) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:27AM (#39612537) Homepage

      Give http://open.mapquest.com/ [mapquest.com] a try. It uses OpenStreetMap data while including many mapquest features, including satellite imagery.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        MapQuest is pretty much US only.

        Just tried it again. Click the link, search for "Hong Kong". Only result: a street somewhere in US. Not the SAR.

        Search "China". You know, that big country where 20% of the world's population resides. No results.

        OK, that's it, useless.

    • And directions. Pretty much all I ever use maps for is driving and subway directions.
    • by beelsebob (529313)

      I see this come up quite a lot, so I assume there's a genuine will to look at sat imagery... What I don't understand though is why... OSM's maps (at least in well mapped areas) show more detail (yes, more) than satellite imagery. For example, they show where that path goes, when it disappears into a forrest ;)

  • by iampiti (1059688) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:46AM (#39612327)
    Well I guess Google carefully considered pros and cons before charging for maps and if they didn't is their problem.
    The summary (yes, I didn't RTFA) seems to imply that the right or normal thing would be that google dominated the maps landscape. Well, obviously they have to compete with everyone else and if a decision makes them lose clients it's their problem. Maybe that loss was calculated and they calculated they'd get more benefits in the long run if they get rid of non-paying customers.
  • Superior for trails (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@NOspam.gdargaud.net> on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:47AM (#39612329) Homepage
    In my country there are very good 1:25000 maps, but the trails in the wooded areas can be off by hundreds of meters because they we mapped before the time of the GPSs and there's no way to use a theodolite acurately on a forest trail. Come the GPS: I take a track, clean it up a bit, upload it to OSM and the trail is now a lot more accurate than the best maps available...
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:08AM (#39612449) Journal

      Superior for a lot of things. I'm moving to Cambridge soon, and the university accommodation office uses both Bing and Google maps for their web site (no idea why - it seems quite random which one you get). Neither of them even labels all of the colleges, let along the university buildings. In contrast, OSM labels all of the colleges, most of the university buildings, and even a lot of shops, pubs, and restaurants are there by name.

      When I visited a friend in Paris, Google Maps had the street he lived on labelled, but OSM had the building numbers marked as well.

      That said, there are a few places where it is less good. For example, it doesn't have integrated route finding, but there are third-party route finders using the same data. If you want to create a map with one marker on it and send it as a link to someone, you can do it via the OSM web interface, but the UI is pretty horrible. If you want multiple tags, then you need to host your own OpenLayers thing and write some JavaScript. The search feature in OSM is pretty poor as well. It doesn't factor distance into account (although the one on the OSM client on my phone does), so if I search for a street name while looking at a city in the UK, I often have to scroll past a dozen streets in random US cities with the same name before I find the right one.

  • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:49AM (#39612337)

    Last time I checked, maps is still free for people to use, they're just charging for commercial use, but that makes perfect sense. If you're a business, I can't see why you'd be complaining about having to pay a little something that makes it easier for your customers to find you. Nobody is forcing you to use Maps. Go ahead and switch if the expense is too much for you. As TFS states, there are other alternatives.

    Hooray for the free market!

  • lets see how their map server handles a good old fashioned Slashdotting !

  • Project Glass (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MLCT (1148749) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:26AM (#39612525)
    This might be a little "tinfoil hat", and I doubt very much if it is the main reason why google started charging - but I just wonder if longer term thoughts like project glass might factor into their decision.

    Products like Glass are basically just one big world of maps - mapping, satellite, traffic, public transport. Giving that away completely free no-strings-attached forever would just allow others to make products without the overhead that google have to shoulder alone. Something like glass is a long way off, but perhaps there may be a small degree of laying down the norms early on.

    For basic mapping openstreetmap is completely fine, but if all of the finer granularity (streetview, satellite, traffic data) is required then that costs a lot of money to acquire/maintain - and fair enough if google want to start asking those that use it to contribute.
  • by Snaller (147050) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:35AM (#39612571) Journal

    "... it costs us a fortune to do this shit, someone better start paying."

    ??

  • I like the concept of openstreetmap, I have an account, and I've contributed a couple of edits for the area where I live. However, what really seems to be missing is a decent way of getting directions. The only service for this that I know of based on OSM is yournavigation.org, and the quality of its results is simply unusable.

    As an example, try the following in both yournavigation.org and google maps:

    from: 2233 west loma alta drive, fullerton, ca, usa

    to: north mount baldy road, san bernardino county, calif

  • Personally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiroXIV (2362610) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @11:15AM (#39612775)
    I think this is more of an ideological move. Google Maps is not free content like Wikipedia itself. OpenStreetMap however, shares many of the same values as Wikipedia itself; such as its use of an environment that encourages contribution by others, the use of licensing that encourages the sharing and rebuilding of content instead of forbidding it, and so on.
    • I think this is more of an ideological move. Google Maps is not free content like Wikipedia itself.

      You are probably right about this. Unlike the previous examples of major Google Maps users switching to OpenStreetMap that were triggered by Google's pricing changes, this particular case is primarily based on the compatible ideals of OSM and Wikipedia. On the Wikipedia blog post announcing OSM support for the app, they even explicitly state: "This closely aligns with our goal of making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone. This also means we no longer have to use proprietary Google API

  • by CaptainLard (1902452) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @11:17AM (#39612795)
    Not 3 stories ago we get a post about how android is not a good buisiness model because apple is making 250x as much on every i-device sold as google does on every android device (http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/12/04/08/0546247/google-earns-2-per-handset-apple-575). Perhaps suggesting that its better for business to have the walled garden approach. Now there's this story about how google is losing out because a competitor is more open. Based on that it seems google is toast because they are too open while also not open enough. Seems rough to be getting attacked from all sides but then again, consistent $billions in profit probably soften the blow.
  • easy, for every single good open source thing, you have to wade though a 40 mile wide pile of shit open source things.

    People always act like there is something wrong with others for not seeing it before, but the reality of open source is that any drunk/child/failing student/general moron/company/or software genius can make it, and oh boy is there a fuckton of the stuff, with a fair majority of it being right up shit.

    You cant see it coming cause its like looking for a needle in a haystack.

    • easy, for every single good open source thing, you have to wade though a 40 mile wide pile of shit open source things.

      And how is this different from closed-source software?

  • I went there and it... does maps. Wow. Google maps does a lot more than just showing me a map. I do like that it is editable though when you find a mistake.
  • But Open Street Map's founder Steve Coast works for Microsoft. Both Microsoft and "Apple" are backing OSM. Both Bing and OSM share map data. So yeah, OSM is gaining lots of momentum, because Apple and MS want it to replace Google maps and have financially motivated it.

    The way I see it -- note, that this is pure conjecture on my part -- is that this is not some ideological or heroic move on Wikipedia's part to support open source on their mobile app.

    I see it as either a nudged move(as in an influenti
    • The data is free, so who backs it up makes little difference; anyone can just move it elsewhere if MS does something bad(tm).

  • Waze is fantastic, it's based on Open Street Maps, it provides turn by turn directions, but even better than that it lets you share data like road hazards, police locations, traffic perils, and so on.

    You can get it for iOS, Android and I think even Blackberry at the moment. Probably even WP7.

    One of the nicer things is that you can use it as a tool to record new roads it does not know about yet, and submit them - a regional overseer will review any additions/corrections and thus everyone gets better data.

    Th

    • by Anonymous Coward

      waze does not use openstreetmap and never has. any data you contribute does not go into an open database of any kind, you "donate" it to the project owners.
      it's the opposite of open.

  • Open Street Maps is like most open projects, incomplete.

    And when you have a program and it's incomplete, that's one
    thing. But an incomplete map is stupid. Because it's useless.

    Shouldn't they color code areas that have 'no data'? Like my
    neighborhood that's been here since 2003.

    -AI

    • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @07:15PM (#39615075) Journal

      Actually, I've been pretty impressed with OpenStreetMap and the places I've been. That said, I've also occasionally run into missing and incorrectly labeled things.

      One of the cool things with OSM, though, is that you can fix the issues. Go buy an inexpensive bike GPS (I use a Garmin Edge 205 [garmin.com]), ride around your neighborhood and map the streets. It's a pretty entertaining way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. Getting the data into it can be a little tricky if you're not good with the various file formats, but it's pretty well documented. I would imagine that there are smartphone apps for doing this as well (the person above mentioned [slashdot.org] Waze [waze.com])

      If you're more of a couch potato, you can actually go through satellite images and add mapping information from those. Or you can just go through existing maps and enhance them with some local intelligence--I went through and added bike lanes to the streets that I knew had them and added appropriate connections from bike paths to streets. About the only issue you need to be concerned with (from a legal standpoint) is that you should avoid copying information from other maps (eg, Google) until you actually read the terms of service.

      Unlike a lot of open projects, you don't need to be a computer science major to contribute. In this case, you don't even need to be an expert cartographer. So rather than complaining that nobody has updated your area since 2003, go ahead and do it!

      • by b0bby (201198)

        You don't even need a gps - when you go to edit a map on the OSM website, you'll have the option (on by default for me) to see a satellite image underneath. If you know the area, it's pretty easy to use that as a guide for drawing the roads & stuff.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So add it? That's kind of the whole point of OpenStreetMap. If you see a mistake in your neighborhood, YOU can go fix it and it shows up on the map immediately. Adding basic roads for a new subdivision can be done in a few minutes if you are familiar with the area. But of course it is still easier to moan about it on slashdot instead of actually contributing to society.

      • So add it? That's kind of the whole point of OpenStreetMap. If you see a mistake in your neighborhood, YOU can go fix it and it shows up on the map immediately. Adding basic roads for a new subdivision can be done in a few minutes if you are familiar with the area.

        So how is all this open content protected from vandalism?

    • How can they tell a place with "no data yet", from a place with "no data, because there's nothing here"?
      You can always add it. Wikipedia lacked lots of obvios information at the beggining as well. Look where it is now. And all thanks to people that decided to fill in the gaps.

  • I've tried really hard to like OpenStreetMaps, even contributed several street names and fixed some bad street geometry issues in my neighborhood... but overall it's next to useless here in Brazil. And I live in one of the largest cities here (metro area with 6 million people).

    So, yeah, maybe it's useful in the US and Europe, but not everywhere...

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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