Posts Tagged ‘openstreetmap’

Services, Resources and Tools for Mapping Data (Sunlight Foundation)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

[Editor's note: Listing of several dozen free web apps and tutorials, including GeoCommons Maker!, Modest Maps, Color Brewer, Open Layers, and Batch GeoCoder.]

Republished from the Sunlight Foundation.
By Kerry Mitchell on 02/19/10

Services, Resources and Tools for Mapping DataLong ago, putting together a map of data points would be the sole domain of a skilled GIS practitioner employing an application like ArcView. These days, particularly with the advent of Google Maps, Yahoo Maps and OpenStreetMap, et al., there are a multitude of options for an individual to employ in displaying data geographically. Of course, there are, and will always be, technical options that require some level of programming chops. Fortunately, the pool of drop dead easy implementations that anyone can throw together with ease has grown a lot over the last few years. Then, there is the growing middle ground, lying somewhere between easy but rigid and difficult but flexible. Personally, I tend to hover in this netherworld, leveraging existing code, services or tutorials when possible but occasionally finding myself diving into the more technical areas when necessary and learning a lot in the process.

For those of you out there who might be interested in mapping data, I’ve put together a collection of links to a variety of services, code samples, resources and tutorials I’ve found useful in the past. These links range from new services that barely require anything more than a spreadsheet to complicated frameworks that require a great deal of technical knowledge. This is by no means all encompassing and if you happen to have additional links you’d like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Continue reading at the Sunlight Foundation . . .

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  . . .

Transit Time Maps from Walk Score (via Google Maps Mania)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

[Editor's note: Detailed maps help understand transportation time between point A and B. Network topology routing provided by open source software and then pushed out as a Google Maps mashup. WalkScore was previously featured here for their "walkability" maps which both help people figure out where to live.]

Republished from Google Maps Mania and Walk Score.

WalkScore have produced a Google Map mashup that can show you how far you can travel in San Francisco, Portland or Seattle on public transport in 15, 30 and 45 minutes. The map can show you how far you can travel on public transit from a given location and at any time of day.

How it Works

Transit schedules are downloaded in GTFS format and the XML street data is fetched from OpenStreetMap. These are compiled into a graph for use by the Graphserver trip planner. Street intersections are graph vertices and streets are graph edges.

Graphserver calculates the shortest path tree for a given location. The time of arrival at all street intersections is cross-referenced with a table of street intersection locations to create the contours for different travel times.

Go to Walk Score to try out the Transit Time map . . .

Copyright Easter Eggs (OpenGeoData)

Friday, October 24th, 2008

[Editor's note: Amusing April 1st post from the folks that bring us OpenStreetMap.org. Republished from there. I think meant both as fun and somewhat seriously. I remember making my first trap street on the Humboldt Bay Bay Area Bike Map in 1997 :)]

Commercial map providers have for years used ‘easter eggs’ or as cartographers know them ‘trap streets’. These are fake streets, churches and sometimes villages in maps that are put in on purpose. If you copy the map then the map owner knows it was you because you couldn’t possibly have mapped these fake features.

OSM has a large wiki page on the subject including this picture of an A-Z map:

Notice ‘Lye Close’ ? This pun has been put there as a trap street, there is no actual street there.

In the license process, the OpenStreetMap Foundation has recognised the need for a license not just based in copyright law. Like large commercial map suppliers we are moving toward a license based upon copyright, database and contract law. These ‘three pillars’ are the same foundations upon which many data sets are sold.

Similarly and in order to professionalise OpenStreetMap due to the increasing completeness and therefore value of the OpenStreetMap data we need to protect copyright. The OpenStreetMap Foundation has decided to begin a process of entering trap streets in to our data. These will be in out of the way places so that they are not noticed, but if that data turns up in a TomTom or similar device then we will be able to prosecute for infringing our data.

This process was decided on secretly at the first OSMF board meeting over a year ago and many hundreds of trap streets are now present. The OSMF has decided to go public now because we have completed an entire ‘fake village’ and placed it in southern Germany. These trap streets and the trap village are un-deletable in the API due to special code to protect copyright.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation Board feel this is a good compromise between on the one hand having only real streets and no copyright protection and on the other enforcing all downloads of data with DRM mechanisms which were found impractical. The community impact is now to be measured, now that these methods and tools are public.

The Board would like to invite discussion on this exciting new method of protection, and will follow comments to this post closely.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation Board.