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Old 8th February 2009, 09:23   #1
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Mapmakers of the world unite!

Read THE HINDU - The Hindu : Front Page : Mapmakers of the world unite!

Chennai: They have fun getting lost. They wander through streets noting down little details that lend character to our towns and cities. Those details are then stitched together to form a map.

A rapidly growing community of cartographers has undertaken the task of mapping the length and breadth of the world – one street at a time. The virtual canvas they work on is called OpenStreetMap ( OpenStreetMap).

“It is a free map that anyone can edit,” says Arun Ganesh, a final-year engineering student, who swears by cycling or public transport. As he did not want to ask people in the bus stop for directions, he decided to map the bus routes of Chennai using OSM, a project that is now close to completion.

OSM is a barebones map of the world, available online. Anyone can register and add features such as roads, streets, shops and your college hangout. When it comes to commercial maps online, it is as though the map is locked in a glass box. You can view and write on top of the box but cannot modify the underlying structure.

On the other hand, OSM has no locks. It gives you complete access to all the data. And it is free, which means you can print it out and share it with the world without any copyright hassles. Since cost and skill are not barriers to contribution, “maps are being created in places where maps haven’t been updated for decades by commercial or government mapmakers,” says Mikel Maron, a board member of the OSM Foundation.

He is now involved in mapping the Gaza Strip. When the crisis began in December, the mapping community realised there was no comprehensive map available publicly. Through a word-of-mouth campaign, the OSM community rapidly mapped the region to assist relief workers and the media. Now that the crisis has subsided, they plan to add more details through people living there.

From Ludhiana to Lonavla, the OSM fever in India is catching on rapidly. “A little over a year ago, there was very little data in India. We’re now approaching 1,00,000 individual roads and several hundred contributors,” says Mr. Maron.

It is not just about streets and addresses. B.V. Pradeep, who cycles around Bangalore, says you can even map the fairways in a golf course. “Some people call a road as Double Road, others call it Kengal Hanumanthiah Road. So, in a regular mapping system, this kind of information collection is not possible. And local languages have their own way of names. So, OSM is flexible on that front.”

It is this unbridled freedom to edit which is both the strength and weakness of OSM, says Ganesh. The integrity of data depends on the person editing it; there is nobody supervising the effort.

Perhaps, it is the spirit of working collectively that acts as a check. As an OSM enthusiast in Portugal says: “I’ve always preferred to use something developed by a community for the community.”

By Sruthi Krishnan..............THE HINDU

I saw the Chennai maps and it looks pretty detailed; editing is also simple and GPS traces can be uploaded - many have already done this......should be interesting for all tbhpians............Ram
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Old 8th February 2009, 12:12   #2
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Good to see mainstream press coverage! Its a great project, been working on it for past one year
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Old 26th July 2010, 11:27   #3
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Looks like the openstreetmap revolution will soon engulf all the other mapping platforms. Mapquest has already switched to osm data for the uk, you can still view it for india.
MapQuest Maps - Driving Directions - Map

And there was talk by yahoo last year to completely switch to osm by 2011. Im guessing its going to boil down to google vs user created osm in the near future. Here's another article in the Hindu regarding openstreetmaps in India
The Hindu : Front Page : Mapmakers of the world unite!
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