Open Charge Map & Open Street Map

Now that I am spending less time arguing with people on forums (!!!) I find that I have more time to do things that actually make a difference to EV drivers and so this is what I intend to do this year… do – not talk!

I have tried to get more involved with the Open Charge Map (OCM) project but the project owner, Chris Cook, and I do not see eye to eye on much regarding OCM and so I think it best that I leave him to it. To be fair to him though… he has done a bang up job getting OCM to where it is today but I feel it needs some significant changes if OCM is now to realise its true potential… he disagrees with many of my suggestions. He and I are very alike in that we have strong commitment to what we believe to be right and so we clash. This is unfortunate. However, from my perspective, it doesn’t make what he is doing any less admirable… I just think it could be a lot better with us working together. Good luck Chris and OCM.

So, with more time on my hands, and with me getting more involved with OCM not an option, I  have been trying to look at other ways which I can contribute to improving OCM and the whole issue of charge station mapping.

I have been involved superficially with Open Street Map (OSM) and it has occurred to me many times that there should be some symbiosis between OCM and OSM. Open Street Map is an open project to map the world and everything in it. Surely charging stations should be mapped on OSM.

So the issue then is that they are totally separate databases and systems. Charging Stations entered into OSM do not appear on OCM and visa versa. It seems that by entering charging stations into OSM we are just creating yet another charging database (albeit within OSM) and that is precisely what OCM was developed to avoid!

We need a link… a “bridge” if you like… between OCM and OSM.

I have started looking at how we might create this bridge.

There are a lot of technical challenges to creating a bridge but I know they can be overcome. However, the biggest obstacle is probably not technical. It is one of licensing. OSM has some very rigid rules regarding what data it allows to be imported. It is an “open” database, using the Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL) and it protects that at all costs. This means that any data imported into OSM must also be able to be licensed under that licence. Unfortunately, data in OCM is licensed using the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 licence. They have differing requirements and are not wholly compatible. This is the challenge then… to find a way to have OCM data imported into OSM, and visa versa whilst complying with the licensing requirements of both. Then, to create a “bridge” that allows the data in each to be kept in step with the other.

I am not certain it can be done at the moment but I am investigating.

There is nothing stopping anyone though entering charge stations into each so for now I would say that if you feel so inclined to add charging stations to either OCM, OSM or both then please do. All data is good data providing it is accurate so add away! In the mean time, I shall be investigating the issues surrounding a bridge and seeing if I can get a project started to add OCM to OSM and to keep the two in step.

Watch this space…

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