OpenStreetMap is built by a community of mappers that contribute and maintain data about roads, trails, cafés, railway stations, and much more, all over the world. It is an initiative to create and provide free geographic data, such as street maps, to anyone.
OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. Rather than the map itself, the data generated by the project is considered its primary output. The creation and growth of OSM has been motivated by restrictions on use or availability of map information across much of the world, and the advent of inexpensive portable satellite navigation devices. OSM is considered a prominent example of volunteered geographic information.
Created by Steve Coast in the UK in 2004, it was inspired by the success of Wikipedia and the predominance of proprietary map data in the UK and elsewhere. Since then, it has grown to over two million registered users, who can collect data using manual survey, GPS devices, aerial photography, and other free sources. This crowdsourced data is then made available under the Open Database License. The site is supported by the OpenStreetMap Foundation, a non-profit organisation registered in England and Wales.
The data from OSM can be used in various ways including production of paper maps and electronic maps (similar to Google Maps, for example), geocoding of address and place names, and route planning. Prominent users include Facebook, Craigslist, OsmAnd, Geocaching, MapQuest Open, JMP statistical software, and Foursquare. Many users of GPS devices use OSM data to replace the built-in map data on their devices. OpenStreetMap data has been favourably compared with proprietary datasources, although in 2009 data quality varied across the world.
Map data is collected from scratch by volunteers performing systematic ground surveys using tools such as a handheld GPS unit, a notebook, digital camera, or a voice recorder. The data is then entered into the OpenStreetMap database. The availability of aerial photography and other data from commercial and government sources has added important sources of data for manual editing and automated imports. Special processes are in place to handle automated imports and avoid legal and technical problems.
1) Local Knowledge
OpenStreetMap emphasizes local knowledge. Contributors use aerial imagery, GPS devices, and low-tech field maps to verify that OSM is accurate and up to date. It’s community is diverse, passionate, and growing every day.The project has a geographically diverse user-base, due to emphasis of local knowledge and ground truth in the process of data collection. Many early contributors were cyclists who survey with and for bicyclists, charting cycleroutes and navigable trails. Others are GIS professionals who contribute data with Esri tools. Contributors are predominately men, with only 3–5% being women.
2) Open Data
OpenStreetMap is open data: you are free to use it for any purpose as long as you credit OpenStreetMap and its contributors. If you alter or build upon the data in certain ways, you may distribute the result only under the same licence.
This site and many other related services are formally operated by the Open Street Map Foundation(OSMF) on behalf of the community. The magnifying glass logo and State of the Map are registered trademarks of OSMF. OpenStreetMap data was originally published under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence (CC BY-SA) with the intention of promoting free use and redistribution of the data. In September 2012, the licence was changed to the Open Database Licence (ODbL) published by Open Data Commons (ODC) in order to more specifically define its bearing on data rather than representation.
As part of this relicensing process, some of the map data was removed from the public distribution. This included all data contributed by members that did not agree to the new licensing terms, as well as all subsequent edits to those affected objects. It also included any data contributed based on input data that was not compatible with the new terms. Estimates suggested that over 97% of data would be retained globally, however certain regions would be affected more than others, such as in Australia where 24 to 84% of objects would be retained, depending on the type of object. Ultimately, more than 99% of the data was retained, with Australia and Poland being the countries most severely affected by the change.
4) Route planning
In February 2015, OpenStreetMap added route planning functionality to the map on its official website. The routing uses external services, namely OSRM, GraphHopper and MapQuest.
5) Humanitarian aid
OpenStreetMap Philippines GPS map, an end-product of over a thousand crisis mappers that contributed almost 5 million map updates during the 2013 Haiyan humanitarian activation. The 2010 Haiti earthquake has established a model for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to collaborate with international organisations. OpenStreetMap and Crisis Commons volunteers using available satellite imagery to map the roads, buildings and refugee camps of Port-au-Prince in just two days, building “the most complete digital map of Haiti’s roads”.
The resulting data and maps have been used by several organisations providing relief aid, such as the World Bank, the European Commission Joint Research Centre, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNOSAT and others.
NGOs, like the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and others, have worked with donors like United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to map other parts of Haiti and parts of many other countries, both to create map data for places that were blank, and to engage and build capacity of local people.
After Haiti, the OpenStreetMap community continued mapping to support humanitarian organisations for various crises and disasters. After the Northern Mali conflict (January 2013), Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (November 2013), and the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa (March 2014), the OpenStreetMap community has shown it can play a significant role in supporting humanitarian organisations.