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OpenStreetMap status report

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
10th August 2008


Via Glyn Moody

OpenStreetMap is clearly fast becoming one of the open world‘s signal achievements!.

Here’s a recent summary of their progress:

Earlier this week the project surpassed 50,000 registered users with over 5,000 actively contributing data each month. Historically the contributor base has doubled every 5 months. That means there will be around 50,000 adding data monthly by the end of 2009. That’s a ten fold increase from today.

Right now on each and every day, 25,000km of roads gets added to the OpenStreetMap database, on the historical trend that will be over 200,000km per day by the end of 2009. And that doesn’t include all the other data that makes OpenStreetMap the richest dataset available online. As Etienne succinctly put it in a response to one commentator.

“OpenStreetMap maps a lot more than roads. All the things you mention: roads, paths, buildings, heights, pylons, fences … AND … post boxes, pubs, airfields, canals, rock climbing routes, shipwrecks, lighthouses, ski runs, whitewater rapids, universities, toucan crossings, coffeeshops (the dutch kind), trees, fields, toilets, speed cameras, toll booths, recycling points and a whole lot more.”

Finally its worth saying a word or two about the bigger picture. Until very recently we talked about OpenStreetMap being a global project but the reality was that outside of Europe and the TIGER-Line fed USA the pockets of OpenStreetMap activity were sporadic, often just one contributor in each place, or the devoted work of one or two burning the midnight oil tracing over the Yahoo! imagery layer in far flung places. Even that’s changing though. The OpenStreetMap community itself is growing and one of the best examples of that is the proliferation of national websites acting as local language portals for the project. Already there is openstreetmap.ca, .ch, .cl, .de, .fr, .it, .jp, .nl, .se, .org.za and that’s probably missing a few that are on the way.”

The OpenStreetMap blog also warns against the proprietary rival, Google’s MapMaker:

Google have launched MapMaker, a kind of faux OpenStreetMap where they own all the data and you’re only allowed to map in certain Freedom Of Speech Zones.

Like Knol, the mooted ‘wikipedia killer’, Google refuse to acknowledge existing communities, trample on their hard work and lack the mindset to engage with an open project.

The fundamental reasons for OpenStreetMap remain intact and if anything are now stronger. At first glance it sounds like OpenStreetMap, until you realise that Google own that data you give them, there’s no community and you are unlikely to see use of the data in ‘creative, productive, or unexpected ways’.

The terms of use are hilarious – the bottom line seems to be that Google ends up owning excusively the entire aggregate work, but it is your fault if anything goes wrong.

If you contribute to Google MapMaker, you are contributing to one single map view that looks how Google wants it to look. If you contribute to OpenStreetMap, you are contributing to a myriad of possibilities … most not even thought of yet. The cycle map is a good example.”

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