Posts Tagged ‘open street map’

OpenStreetMap leveraged for bikes: Ride the City – DC Metro

Monday, February 8th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: This routing tool considers bike paths and trails and supports drag and drop start and stop icons (rather than just address entree). It’s available for several major metro areas across the US and just came to Washington, DC. How can you get it in your town? Yet another reason to contribute to OpenStreetMap.org, the backend behind the tool. Thanks Jaime!]

Republished from Ride the City.

Washington D.C. is a great city for bicycling: its greenway network is extensive and it’s relatively flat. D.C. is also home to Smartbike DC, a public bike rental program.

We’re happy to announce that today bicycling in the nation’s capital just got easier: Welcome Ride the City – DC Metro! This newest addition includes Washington D.C., Arlington, Alexandria, all of Fairfax, and the Maryland suburbs within the Capital Beltway. We’re hopeful that by making it easier to ride bikes around the epicenter of U.S. political power that we may inspire more action to bring about improved bicycle facilities everywhere, especially in cities where biking is a sensible alternative to driving.

Ride the City – DC Metro was probably our biggest challenge to date. It was tricky because of the many jurisdictions (six counties) and various data sources that had to be organized, not to mention the 1,148 square miles of area and over 450 miles of separated (i.e. Class 1) bike ways that had to be manually edited. We’re happy to have had help from many good people in the bicycling world. Among those who helped, we’d like to thank Chantal Buchser (Washington Area Bicyclist Association), Bruce Wright (Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling), and Jeff Hermann (Fairfax County DOT) for helping us with data, troubleshooting, and leveraging volunteers to test routes early on.

(For those of you who are new to Ride the City, keep in mind that the Cloudmade basemap that we use is based on Open Street Map, the volunteer effort to map the world. If you notice discrepancies on the map, you can edit Open Street Map yourself or tell us about it and we’ll edit Open Street Map for you. To learn more about Open Street Map, click here.)

Try it out at Ride the City . . .

‘Citizen cartographers’ map the microcosms of the world (Wash Post)

Monday, February 1st, 2010

[Editor's note: The Washington Post's Mike Musgrove covers the OpenStreetMap.org phenomenon during a recent meet-up of MappingDC in the nation's capital.]

Republished from The Washington Post. Sunday, January 31, 2010
By Mike Musgrove

On a cold Sunday morning in Washington, none of the two-dozen scruffy students and techie folks crowded into one side of a bustling cafe noticed as Steve Coast, a 29-year-old British programmer, moseyed in and joined their ranks. They didn’t realize it, but there was the man with a plan to map the world.

They were there to do their part, but that’s the funny thing about being the leader of a large, online movement: Everybody knows your name, but nobody recognizes you.

The citizen cartographers, known as MappingDC, had gathered to help complete Coast’s interactive map of the globe — or at least Washington’s corner of it.

“Maps are expensive and proprietary,” said Coast, sipping on his coffee and explaining the core tenets of the project, called OpenStreetMap. “They should be free.”

Coast had the idea for OpenStreetMap in 2004, when he was a student living in London. Coast had a GPS and a laptop, you see, and he figured that with a little programming magic he could build a map of his local haunts that contained more useful information than any service he could find online.

What’s more, he said, “I figured that if I did that, and he did that, and you did that, then, together, we could put together a jigsaw map of the world.”

Since that day, a few hundred thousand people around the planet have pitched in online to enter information about everything from the name of their local library to an area’s handicap accessibility.

In Germany, the country with some of the project’s most enthusiastic participants, volunteers have very nearly catalogued their country down to the last lamppost. During a recent trip to Atlanta, Coast found that users had paid particular attention to the area’s storm drains, perhaps because of recent floods. In Denver, where he lives, Coast has noticed that users are obsessed with noting every footpath and bike trail.

As with Wikipedia, the premise here is that the collective contributions of an enthusiastic community can create a better service than something a corporate entity could put out on its own.

Sure, Google, with its massive resources, has the wherewithal to hire workers to record the street-level images used in its map service. But “a couple of guys driving a truck down a street don’t viscerally care” about whether they captured your neighborhood’s streets exactly right, said Coast, who was in town to attend a conference by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Remember encyclopedias? The problem with those dead-tree tomes was always that the information printed within could go obsolete the day they were published. It’s always been the same for paper street maps, too. MappingDC and OpenStreetMap project members argue that their map is better because it can be instantly corrected. Again, like Wikipedia, the belief is that the wisdom of the crowd will prevail or fix errors.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

Haiti OpenStreetMaps + Google Map Maker

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

There are two camps opening up in the Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI or community generated content CGC) community that are sure to have big import going down the line. One is OpenStreetMap.org (editor | download) and the second is Google’s Map Maker (not available in the US and other developed world locations) (editor | tile view options | download). Both services allow users to either upload their own GPS track or digitize linework and points off satellite imagery. These two options have added to the global map, often creating the first detailed map of a place ever available to the general public.

But the two projects have very different license structures (OSM almost unrestricted, Google very restricted). Not only do they duplicate effort, but they result in “similar but different” products that do not perfectly register with each other. This is an problem that faced many in the US in the 1990s as many organizations developed their own, not-interoperable datasets for the same regions. That model has largely been replaced by single entities building fundamental datasets that other organizations and individuals repurpose.

The licensing and data coverage & registration issues are of note to professional cartographers (and first responders) more so then to the general public. But, as Sean says:

OSM and MapMaker aren’t talking and I think it is a big problem – if you want to help rescue efforts in Haiti where do you go to digitize? OSM? MapMaker?

Muki Haklay has a good comparison of the detail in each of OSM and Map Maker for Haiti. In the map here, yellow means that there is a better coverage in Map Maker, and blue means that there is a better coverage in OpenStreetMap.
Screenshot below, click for larger version.

osm-mapmaker-haiti-180110

“The comparison looks at total roads length for both datasets. The calculated difference between them using the equation:

∑(OSM roads length)-∑(Map Maker roads length)

for each 1km grid square.

The information in the file can be used for the following applications:

  • Users of these mapping products - it can help in judging which dataset to use for each area.
  • Users – it can facilitate conflation -  the process of merging datasets to create a better quality output.
  • Mappers - it can illuminate which areas to focus on, to improve coverage.”

Haitian Earthquake Emphasizes Danger of a Split Geo Community (seen over at FortiusOne’s Off the Map blog advocating for Creative Commons 0 “zero” licensing of geodata during disasters) has a overlay of OSM (Open Street Map) and Google Map Maker data.

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And finally, before and after images of OpenStreetMap.org map for Port-au-Prince, Haiti:

OSM just after the Earthquake

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OSM Today

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read-write mapping: NACIS Conference Keynote by Michal Migurski of Stamen Design

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

[Editor's note: I'm just getting back from the annual NACIS conference and decompressing from backpacking, family and friends in the Golden State. Our great keynote speaker this year was Michal Migurski of Stamen Design who talked up the OpenStreetMap project. Mike has also been kind enough to help out with the Natural Earth Data site which will go live in another couple weeks once Tom and I have polished the data. Without further ado, the keynote...]

Republished from tecznotes.

[clip] I used the opportunity to talk about the fascinating OpenStreetMap project, specifically the ways in which it’s useful to a cartography audience and how that audience could benefit the project. This last thing in particular is what I closed with: I think the online face of OSM’s rendered tiles could use serious input from the NACIS community, particularly at the kinds of medium scales where the highly-detailed data blurs into “features”. Much of this happens by-hand in tools like Adobe Illustrator from what I can tell, a very different workflow from the industrial automation offered by my favorite stand-by, Mapnik.

This is a talk about a new awareness of maps and geography, and a change in attitudes toward maps.

I’m going start with a small detour here to tell you about an online phenomenon that’s going on four or so years now, called Unboxing. Unboxing is a kind of geek striptease, described in one site’s tagline as a “vicarious thrill from opening new gear”.

Unboxing is a response to the meticulous packaging of modern electronics gear, most notably Apple’s range of iPods, iPhones, and Mac computers – careful design is invested in the packaging, and careful appreciation is invested in its removal.

Why unboxing? Two aspects of the trend seem relevant here.

First, it’s a new kind of visibility into the fan club culture around popular electronics, allowing users to elevate their own appreciation of a mass-market good into a social experience. I remember bicycling past the Apple Store and the Cingular store on San Francisco’s Market St. on the day the iPhone was released. There were enormous lines in front of each, and as customers picked up their new iPhones they’d walk out the door, break into a jog, and high-five the remainder of the line. The division between fan and star here evaporates.

Second, the delivery mechanism for this fan-produced culture tends to be online sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube. Both are examples of the phenomenon of the “Read Write Web”, the now-familiar pattern of web-based communities formed around the creation and sharing of social objects like photos and videos.

One effect of these online communities is a new and durable awareness of the process behind creative production. Pages on Flickr or YouTube follow a pattern you’re probably familiar with: title in the upper-left, main “thing” just below that, and to the right at the same level of importance, the person who made it for you. Responsibility and provenance along with all the messiness and point-of-view are built-in assumptions.

In the world of text, we see this same pattern on Wikipedia.

This is the History Flow project from Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viegas at IBM, which shows edits to a single Wikipedia article over time as threads and contributions from a group of editors.

Like this one, each article has been beaten into shape over time by a group of people following loose rules of cooperation, so each page has an associated “Talk” page where you can peek into the arguments and negotiations connected to the particular set of facts represented there. You can see the sausage being made. You can also cause the sausage to be made, as we saw with Stephen Colbert’s parody of consensual reality he called “wikiality” and used to make occasional, abusive, hilarious forays into Wikipedia.

This is where we segue into geography.

Around 2004 or so, UK developer Steve Coast started a project called OpenStreetMap, the Wiki world map. Steve was connecting a few emerging threads: the falling cost of GPS hardware since it was made available for civilian use in 1996, the dismal copyright layer wrapped around Ordnance Survey maps, and the lack of a viable crappy-but-free alternative in the UK. It’s hard to overstate how crazy this idea was at the time; everyone knows that collecting worldwide geographic data at the street level is a massive undertaking, out of reach of an enthusiast community like the OSM of the time.

What was the state of online mapping at the time? Not terrible, but not great.

Continue reading at tecznotes  . . .

Interactive Commuting Time Maps – Find Where to Move (MySociety)

Monday, November 10th, 2008

[Editor’s note: This MySociety.org article from 2007 shows how an interactive web map can help users narrow down the best places to live or work based on a home prices ($) and commute times (t) by car, bike, bus, or train. Interactive Flash versions of the maps are after the jump. Thanks Lynda!]

Reprinted from MySociety.org.

In 2006, our late friend and colleague Chris Lightfoot produced a series of time travel contour maps, after the Department for Transport approached mySociety about experimenting with novel ways of re-using public sector data.

This mapping work was very important because it provides a potentially revolutionary new way of working out the best place for people to live and work.

Commuting Time Maps

Following widespread interest across the net and a major feature in the Evening Standard, the Department for Transport asked us to show them how this work could be taken further, and that is what we are showing here today. Get a quote for your map now

Improving legibility and clarity

Many of the maps we produced last time were very pretty, but could be somewhat difficult to interpret. We therefore teamed up with Stamen to improve the visual clarity and fun. Our first approach was to improve the base mapping to something more delicate and appropriate, using OpenStreetMap. We then worked on the colours and textures of the contours to make them quicker to interpret. Click on the images for larger versions.

Old map of London

Showing travel times to work at the Department for Transport in Pimlico, arriving at 9am

Old map of London showing travel times to work at the Department for Transport in Pimlico, arriving at 9am
Click image for bigger version.
© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Department for Transport 100020237 2007

New map of London

Showing travel times to work at the Department for Transport in Pimlico, arriving at 9am

New map of London showing travel times to work at the Department for Transport in Pimlico, arriving at 9am

Click image for bigger version.

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