State of the Map 2013 – World Open Street Map Conference Day 1

Once a year the Open Street Map community hold a conference where interest parties gather together to discuss the Open Street Map and all associated aspects of it. This year the conference is in the Aston University Business School on the Aston Uni campus and I thought it would be an interesting weekend so I decided to attend all 3 days.

The conference format is each speaker has 20-30 each for their presentation. They are in two of the university lecture rooms so it is easy to use a laptop or to make notes. Coffee/tea is available morning and afternoon and a finger buffet lunch is provide… which is just as well as there is a lot to fit in each day and the lunch break is only 40 minutes.

I won’t go through each presentation individually. It would take me ages and you would get bored! However, I will give you a brief outline of the main messages that I took away from todays presentations…

– The OSM data is still far from complete and although there are some areas where the data is mostly complete (97% of UK roads for example) there are still many areas that need a lot of work and although the roads are there the meta data is often incomplete. Information such as speed limits, turn restrictions etc are oftem incomplete or missing. The precludes the national use for car navigation if those aspects are important.

– OSM will NEVER be complete! There will always be additional information that can be added as new uses for the data come to light.

– although OSM has 1.3M registerred editors only a fraction of them edit reggularly. There seems to be a reluctance to keep data up to date or to correct it. The sexy bit seems to be getting out the GPS and mapping new objects rather than correcting or adding to objects already mapped. We need to develop ways to make maintenence easy and fun… e.g. gamification and easy to use apps.

– The argument as to which is better – crowd-sourced or commercial data is not clearly defined. Crowd-sourced data is often of high quality and content rich but it can be sproadic as it is generated as a hobby with the volunteer determining themselves which locality or object types they will map. This can lead to big gaps in coverage. On the otherhand volunteers often add more detail than is achievable through commercial data capture due to their local knowledge and enthusiasm.

– The best benefit comes when commercial and open-source data is combined but this introduces major issues of licensing, copyright and commercial interest and these issues often prevent effect sharing of data across commercial and open source platforms.

– The OSM license is the ODbL (See ). It is a share-alike license but it requires that all derived databases are also shared under the ODbL. This can be an issue for commercial operators as they often want to create databases and apps from combining their own commercially valuable data and OSM data. Under the current licensing this is often not possible if they are to retain control of their own data as the derived database must also be shared. This is a real barrier to the commercial take up and use of OSM data.

– There is no accepted standard UK address format. The UK govenment has approved a standard interenationally but then we have opted out of implementing those standards! The accepted official address source is the National Street Gazeteer but there are even variants of those addresses in common “official” use. Addressing is not easy and as of today only 1% of addresses in the UK are on OSM with a postcode!

Clearly, a whole day of conference presentations is more than just this but these are some of the key interesting points.

So another day tomorrow when we will discuss less of the commercial side and more of the community and social aspects.

Thoroughly enjoying it but it is quite exhausting! I should come away at the end of Sunday with a good understand of OSM and how it is used, not just in teh UK and worldwide. Money and time well spent in my opinion as I can then take this knowledge and apply it to my own editing of the OSM (I have already started on Saltash, Cornwall) but much of this may help with the development of the mapping and data collection for electric car charging. How? As of yet I have no idea but it all has to help 🙂

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