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Why We Need OpenStreetMap (Video)

Roblimo posted about 6 months ago | from the free-often-gives-you-the-best-value dept.

Open Source 118

This video is a conversation between Slashdot's Timothy Lord and informal OpenStreetMap spokesman Serge Wroclawski. Serge stresses the point that OpenStreetMap isn't a mapping application, but consists of the data behind mapping applications; that there are many apps that use OpenStreetMap data; and that you are free to use OpenStreetMap as the data engine behind a map-based application. You are also welcome, even encouraged, to contribute, and you may want to check out the OpenStreetMap Foundation, which is "an international not-for-profit organization supporting, but not controlling, the OpenStreetMap Project." Now comes the question: Do you really want Google or MapQuest or another commercial (or government) entity to know where you are and where you're going? With OpenStreetMap you can download maps of your area, country or even the whole world and keep your travels confidential. You can also help create accurate maps of the areas you know best, including points of interest chosen by actual users like you, not because they paid to have their names on a commercially-produced map. A last thought: In addition to watching Serge in the video, you might want to read an article Serge wrote for his blog that The Guardian picked up about the need for OpenStreetMap. The 195+ comments attached to the article are interesting, too.

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118 comments

Sounds good (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46104285)

Anything that knocks Google (and Apple) down a peg or ten is good in my book.

Re:Sounds good (5, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 6 months ago | (#46104601)

+1

Google scares me. It's getting more and more pervasive - and invasive.

A while ago, I installed Waze on my Android device as an alternative navigation app to avoid using Google Maps, because I don't want Google to know where I'm going (or where I am, or how fast I drive, or anything at all about me.)

Guess what? Waze has been purchased by Google [techcrunch.com] . It's sickening. Google is silently cornering us.

I'm at a point where, whenever I install a new app or use a new PC application, I check whether Google owns the company that makes it, or whether it made it, or whether for one reason or another, Google has a vested interest in it. I used to do that with Microsoft, now Google has joined them in my list of evil-companies-to-avoid-at-all-cost. Only with Google, it's getting really, really tough because they're f*ing everywhere...

Re: Sounds good (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46105437)

Wase was always nothing more than a small add-on on top of google maps.

A good open source satnav based on open street map I use is OsmAnd. They have a free (functional) trial version, or $5 full version, and a free latest build can be obtained somewhere (unstable)

Re:Sounds good (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46105459)

Good, but I'd argue that MS and google are just one of a few companies that are too big to be trusted. Monsanto, for example, is more blatantly evil. They are coming close to a monopoly on corn and soybeans (source [cbsnews.com] ). You can live without an electronic map with very little trouble. I suspect Monsanto is not on your list, as eating all organic food that doesn't stem from corn or soybeans is pretty expensive.

Then again, I suppose Monsanto has grown past the point where consumer action is going to do anything ever.

Re:Sounds good (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 6 months ago | (#46106535)

I'm not a shill, I just think your logic is flawed.

Google has joined them in my list of evil-companies-to-avoid-at-all-cost. Only with Google, it's getting really, really tough because they're f*ing everywhere...

So because they are large makes them evil? Yes, they have a lot of products some of which are bought and they make them easy to use together with optional integration which honestly makes them easier to use. Yes, they do scrap together information about you is to send you relevant adverts because that is their ENTIRE business model!

Everything I've seen indicates that Google has a very different MO from your typical business.

- Their business is advertisement but they dont assault you with intrusive ads and they dont try to stop programs like AdBlock which completely undermines their business model. Hell, they even make it easy to install in Chrome's app store.
- Everything they make is free and you aren't forced to use or even have them. They support Mozilla even though they have a competing browser. You can uninstall all Google related apps on Android if you want, straight up replace Android or even use a fork of Android (see Cyanogen).
- Whenever they screw up, they fess up and try to make it right instead of burying it and denying it. Remember the wifi stuff? They could have easily denied it, buried and deleted all information related to it but instead they fessed up, helped governments determine the harm they had done and took the fines doled out.
- You also don't see Google suing people to death, they have only launched countersuits against those suing them (a MAD [wikipedia.org] tactic). Everyone in the mobile market seems to be suing everyone else but Google isn't playing that game. Remember when they caught MS copying results and putting them in Bing? Google didn't take legal action against MS, they just outed MS for doing it. Furthermore, MS denied that they did at all and then said they used "different vectors" of obtaining data. If it were the other way around, MS would have sued their pants off of Google.

So tell me, what have they done that is so evil, collect information to serve you relevant and easily blocked advertisments?

I like Google (and some of their products) because they are the most ethical (for profit) company I know and they honestly seem to be trying to improve the world rather than just bleed it dry for money.

Re:Sounds good (1)

Vik1ng (3500777) | about 6 months ago | (#46107463)

and you aren't forced to use or even have them.

The problem is that they are building small almost monopolies, which basically forces you to use their services, especially if you are on the business side of the whole thing and want to be found online.

Re:Sounds good (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 6 months ago | (#46107541)

The problem is that they are building small almost monopolies

umm... and which monopolies would those be?

Re:Sounds good (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | about 6 months ago | (#46107625)

So because they are large makes them evil?

No. That just makes them powerful. There are concerns that need to be addressed when benign institutions gain power. Like that bank, that used to take care of your money until they became too big to fail. Remember that one? It was funny. I still can't stop laughing while I fill in my taxes.

Re:Sounds good (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 6 months ago | (#46108009)

- Their business is advertisement but they dont assault you with intrusive ads and they dont try to stop programs like AdBlock which completely undermines their business model. Hell, they even make it easy to install in Chrome's app store.

They have been convicted or are in court in multiple places for deliberatily going around users' privacy settings in Safari and Internet Explorer.

Re:Sounds good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46107219)

Probably trolling comment, but I think the question or thought should be talked about.. [f'in funny that someone asks or gives a simple question/thought and someone wastes time and effort to mod down an anonymous coward with 0 points]

How long before US government or other governments/countries ---try--- to have this shut down, or force them to secretly give them access, for the very reasons it is suppose to exist, for people to feel somewhat secure, or have privacy in destination/s they may want to travel? Or just privacy to explore a online map..

I hope this keeps going it is a good project, and I hope people help fight any attempt by government, again --IF-- there is any attempt to strong arm this project. But the way these agencies keep targeting anything that is suppose to be anonymous, I worry about this as it gains in popularity.

.

You think that's bad? Install Lightbeam in Firefox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46108635)

And you'll see that huge numbers of the web sites you visit pull javascript modules off of Google's servers...

Slashdot for example.

If you leave it running for a day or so, you'll see that Google is very firmly the central point for information gathering about you.

Re:Sounds good (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46104821)

I agree about Waze. I got it as an alternative to Google and really liked it... then Google snarfed it up. (I am pretty sure "snarf" is the right word.)

The "problem" with OpenStreetMap is that it needs software wrapped around it to be very useful. That's kind of how Waze worked, but I don't think it used OpenStreetMap.

If we could get a good Open Source program to do what Waze did, more or less, using OpenStreetMap, we'd be in a good place. Waze proved that it is technically feasible. We'd just have to ensure that it stayed free and open.

Re:Sounds good (5, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 6 months ago | (#46105007)

If you want something that does what Waze does -- or anything that shares data between users -- what you want is a protocol, not a program.

In my opinion, the single biggest problem with the Internet today is that things like Facebook and Twitter were implemented as programs and not protocols.

Re:Sounds good (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46105171)

"If you want something that does what Waze does -- or anything that shares data between users -- what you want is a protocol, not a program."

I wasn't referring to the communication part of Waze, which I did not use anyway. I was referring to the mapping and navigation functions.

Despite its name, OpenStreetMap is just data. If you want to draw a map with that data, you need software to do it. (Unless you feel like drawing it manually using that data.)

OsmAnd is a program that does this, but it is strangely limited and it isn't free to use all the features or download more than a few maps.

Re:Sounds good (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about 6 months ago | (#46105295)

I use OSM data with Locus Pro. (I now have the paid version, but I used the free one for a year or more). I don't use the navigation though, and I think that requires connection to some online service.

Re:Sounds good (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46105945)

Giving it a try. There seems to be more "open" mapping software now than when I last checked. Most of it is still proprietary though.

Re:Sounds good (1)

Askmum (1038780) | about 6 months ago | (#46107675)

Programs that work with OSM data are abundant. True, some better than others. There are nice pages in the OSM wiki about various mobile OS'es, like Android [openstreetmap.org] or iOS [openstreetmap.org] which list all applications available for those platforms (at least all applications that someone put the effort in to make a OSM wiki page for it and add the correct tags).
For simple navigation, there is a choice of pickings. If you want realtime data like Waze or TomTom gives, I don't know if that's available yet, but the biggest problem with that is infrastructure and the cost associated with that. That's probably why Waze was sold to Google. Just try to set up and maintain a serverfarm that does live traffic reporting and you'll know.

Re:Sounds good (1)

gr8dude (832945) | about 6 months ago | (#46107745)

> but it is strangely limited and it isn't free to use all the features or download more than a few maps.

If you download it via F-Droid, then there are no limitations.

Even prior to figuring that out, the limitations of the version distributed via Google Play were not a problem for me - I found them reasonable.

Re:Sounds good (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | about 6 months ago | (#46106501)

I agree about Waze. I got it as an alternative to Google and really liked it... then Google snarfed it up. (I am pretty sure "snarf" is the right word.)

You're right. define:snarf [google.com]

snarf
snärf/
verb informal
verb: snarf; 3rd person present: snarfs; past tense: snarfed; past participle: snarfed; gerund or present participle: snarfing
1. eat or drink quickly or greedily.
"they snarfed up frozen yogurt"

(Pardon the pun.)

Re:Sounds good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46106939)

I agree about Waze. I got it as an alternative to Google and really liked it... then Google snarfed it up. (I am pretty sure "snarf" is the right word.)

"snarf" [wiktionary.org] is a perfectly cromulent word.

Re:Sounds good (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 6 months ago | (#46107375)

Jesus fucking christ! Timothy can not edit, can not ask questions and has internet from the 90's! It was hard to watch.

Wikimapia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46104301)

How about an open building/area tagging like the non-open Wikimapia ? I don't want just points of interest, I want to know everything there is to know (publicly) about an area.

Re:Wikimapia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46104387)

Coward, support for that stuff is all in there already.

Still needs virtual terrestrial presence, imo (0)

mark-t (151149) | about 6 months ago | (#46104313)

[nt]

It's OK (0)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 6 months ago | (#46104365)

OpenStreetMap is OK but is really just a pale imitation of Googol maps. In their attempt to justify OpenStreetMap they completely miss the point:

First they say:

in the 1800s clocks existed, but every town had its own time, "local time"

But then try to justify the need for OpenStreetMap by saying:

In terms of display (rendering), each person or company who creates a map is free to render it how they like

So now you're back to the same problem. But instead of clocks being different from one town to another, it's maps.

The other problem is:

OpenStreetMap is a wiki-like map that anyone in the world can edit. If a store is missing from the map, it can be added in by a store owner or even a customer.

In other words, if OppenStreetMap were to replace Googol maps in popularity, we can look forward to Wikipedia-like edit and delete wars.

Re:It's OK (4, Insightful)

Roblimo (357) | about 6 months ago | (#46104513)

I consider "render it how they like" the equivalent of freedom to choose your own clock face and size rather than the time the clock displays.

 

Re:It's OK (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about 6 months ago | (#46104523)

It's not as good as Google Maps in the things Google Maps is really strong in, but it has different strengths. Take offline mapping: the Google Maps application on Android lets you store a few megabytes of map data for offline use. I have the full OpenStreetMap data for four countries stored for offline use with Locus Pro, taking up about 1.3GB on the SD card.

Re:It's OK (1)

fatphil (181876) | about 6 months ago | (#46104653)

No similarity at all.

When it came to local time, you had to conform to it. Time is a purely abstract quantity which can be labelled arbitrarily, there is no surefire way of knowing if a time given to you with the assertion "this is now" is right or wrong.
However, you have freedom over which application you wish to render your map data. If you consistently chose a program which renders things in a way which is not in your interest, then perhaps OSM is not the problem, but you yourself are. Nobody is imposing a map on you when you have that freedom. If somebody gives you a localmap and asserts "you are here", and it doesn't appear to correspond to reality, then the best thing to come to your aid is - guess what - Open Street Map, with your own preferred front end.

What you view as a weakness is in fact one of its strengths.

Google maps or whoever do not solve your apparent problem. If the same guy gave you the same localmap and he'd photoshopped "Google" at the bottom, you'd not be in any better position. If anything you might be in a worse position, as you were trusting his data as being from google.

Re:It's OK -but needs help. (2)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46104753)

I can't speak to the edit/delete wars issue, because I don't know the rules under which it operates.

But without resorting to the use of hugely expensive satellite imagery, and official sources, and mapping that to known points, openstreetmaps misses a lot of the less traveled roads, even in countries like the US where everyone is carrying a cell phone with GPS turned on. Look into south america and the quality drops off quite a bit.

Enthusiasts may run mapping apps and contribute, but until they can get a large segment of people doing so they will always be behind the curve.
There are some mapping track submission apps for Android [google.com] and probabl for IOS, but these are fairly crude and battery hogging things. They are unwieldy, and more than a little geeky to use.

What they really need is something that will track your location and speed on your phone. Anything over 15 to 20 indicates some sort of vehicle. Just record that on your phone, and not upload it. Then, (when connected to wifi or on the charger perhaps), download just those map segments needed and compare that to the recorded track. Any travel at speed NOT on a known road, would periodically submitted. When there is enough evidence to suggest a road from enough different users, they could add the road to the map.

That way, they can make up for the lack of official sources and satellite imagery by using the power of thousands of phones without users having to do anything other than install the app, and key in some random digits to use for anonamizing the submissions.

Google gets real time traffic data via this method, so we already know it works.

Re:It's OK -but needs help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46104867)

Bing has been providing satellite imagery for several years.

A better track collection story is a good idea.

Re:It's OK -but needs help. (2)

tpstigers (1075021) | about 6 months ago | (#46105053)

You're jumping to unwarranted conclusions. OSM usually has better detailed and more accurate data than Google Maps. Don't take my word for it, though - look for yourself: OSM: http://www.openstreetmap.org/#... [openstreetmap.org] GMaps: https://www.google.com/maps/pr... [google.com] OSM: http://www.openstreetmap.org/#... [openstreetmap.org] GMaps: https://www.google.com/maps/pr... [google.com] OSM: http://www.openstreetmap.org/#... [openstreetmap.org] GMaps: https://www.google.com/maps/pr... [google.com] OSM: http://www.openstreetmap.org/#... [openstreetmap.org] GMaps: https://www.google.com/maps/pr... [google.com]

Re:It's OK -but needs help. (1)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46105213)

Way to cherry pick your area:

https://www.google.com/maps?q=... [google.com]

http://www.openstreetmap.org/r... [openstreetmap.org]

Re:It's OK -but needs help. (2)

tpstigers (1075021) | about 6 months ago | (#46105527)

Whatever point you were trying to make failed in the delivery. Check your links.

Re:It's OK -but needs help. (1)

adolf (21054) | about 6 months ago | (#46107929)

Whatever point you were trying to make failed in the delivery. Check your links.

Links work fine for me. Check your browser. (Also, note that Slashdot seems to have recently grown the habit of truncating long URLs in comments, while leaving the HREF intact. Firefox dropping the status bar into oblivion in does not help clarify things, either. PEBKAC.)

And...a bit of whitespace would've been preferable in the presentation, but it's not so bad.

That said, I clicked the links, I briefly compared these maps OSM/Google of places that I am not familiar with, and I still don't get the point.

Every map has problems. Every modern electronic map has a mechanism in-place for those problems to be fixed. In terms of navigating roadways, the degree of accuracy depends more on the area and the familiarity of the folks working on it than anything else.

Each of Waze, OSM, Google allow users to edit maps with varying degrees of limitation and peer moderation. For the sake of completeness, I've fixed all three of these maps for my hometown...and submitted changes to Garmin for their own map, which got folded into the next release.

If even a small percentage of geeks here spent a bit of time scoping out their usual stomping grounds for even just the most egregious of map errors and fixed them, these maps would all be in fine navigable shape in no time for even the least-traveled of crossroads.

And then, the end-user can pick the best system for their particular application....which is how it's supposed to be, right?

For my own purposes, I use Waze like a religion when driving because it sends data home. And by virtue of sharing this data, it helps me get from A to B faster and with fewer headaches. I sometimes instead use an old standalone Garmin because it is a totally self-contained, offline solution (at least aside from GPS availability) -- something that is likely to work, when other things are failing. (And I keep a paper road map in the car, just in case.)

I don't use Google Maps much at all, because there is no public transportation here and everything else it does overlaps with Waze. And I don't use OSM at all because their dataset is huge, hard to manage and perhaps too-complete, and trying to navigate with it and keep it updated and massage it is frustrating when all I really want to be doing is driving the car and be reminded of my next turn.

The mileage of others may (should!) vary.

Re:It's OK -but needs help. (1)

marcroelofs (797176) | about 6 months ago | (#46108523)

He doesn't mean the links are dead, but that they fail to prove your point. The OSM map in your example is still more detailed than that in Google Maps.

Re: It's OK -but needs help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46107785)

The probem with OSM is not the data, it is the application presenting it.
Google maps even today gives best user experience in UI

Re:It's OK -but needs help. (1)

dr_blurb (676176) | about 6 months ago | (#46107943)

Don't take my word for it, though - look for yourself:

Better still, look here: Map Compare [geofabrik.de]

(side by side comparison of OSM, Google Maps, Bing Maps, etc.)

Re:It's OK -but needs help. (1)

SWroclawski (95770) | about 6 months ago | (#46108805)

I can tell you, because I wrote a blog post about it:

http://blog.emacsen.net/blog/2... [emacsen.net]

(I'm the author of the original article- ie I'm the guy in the video)

Re:It's OK (5, Informative)

tpstigers (1075021) | about 6 months ago | (#46104757)

You obviously know nothing about maps or data. GMaps is a mapping product. OSM is a data storehouse. It has a minimal map structure to facilitate editing data. The idea behind OSM is to provide data which we can freely use to make our own maps. If you need to see examples of pretty maps made with OSM data, just look at Mapbox (https://www.mapbox.com/tour/).

Re: It's OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46105211)

Rudy, Serge addressed the edit wars question in another post: http://blog.emacsen.net/blog/2014/01/17/edit-wars-in-openstreetmap/

Basically, due to the nature of the data being gathered, edit wars are far less prevalent in OSM than in Wikipedia. I know he and the rest of the DWG recently had to deal with an edit war in Jerusalem, but that's the only one I've heard about this year.

Missing satellite view (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#46104367)

The other guys have that.

Re:Missing satellite view (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46104439)

The other guys also won't give you access to their data.

Re:Missing satellite view (1)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46104781)

Really?

I seem to get a hell of a lot of detail for the princely sum of zero on Google Maps. Right down to lot lines in residential areas.

Re:Missing satellite view (1)

segedunum (883035) | about 6 months ago | (#46105123)

No, they don't give you access to their data. Read what was written.

Re:Missing satellite view (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46106077)

So if that wasn't data, what is?

Re:Missing satellite view (4, Interesting)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 6 months ago | (#46106909)

What he's saying is you can get a pretty picture but you can't actually get the data that makes up those pretty pictures.

For example, I have a little bike computer that uses OpenStreetMap. It will tell me what street I'm on and what intersection I'm approaching and whether that intersection has a traffic light or a stop sign. No map. Just data.

Google will be happy to send me a pretty map with my present location and the next intersection all drawn out. Which is nice if I don't mind squinting at a map while riding a bicycle and trying to read a street name sideways. But if I actually want the data about a street and what other streets intersect it? Google won't tell you. They'll just give you a map.

Re:Missing satellite view (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46107283)

Here's access to some of that data.
https://developers.google.com/... [google.com]

Re:Missing satellite view (1)

goldfndr (97724) | about 6 months ago | (#46108353)

Could you be more specific about how one gets "the data about a street and what other streets intersect it" from the Google Maps API Web Services? I'm not seeing it.

Re: Missing satellite view (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46107417)

Which bike computer does this?

Re:Missing satellite view (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 6 months ago | (#46107237)

Rendering of the data. I doubt you can use the rendering freely either. You get to look at it. Distribute it and if the big G catches you, you will have some explaining to do.

OpenStreetMap Server (5, Interesting)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 6 months ago | (#46104403)

I actually pushed to add OpenStreetMap tile support to our geo-spatial stuff at work. I even went and made a VM with the world database and pre-compiled metatiles so I wouldn't hammer their official servers. It's definitely nice to have imagery (even if it isn't satellite) even if you're on a standalone network and don't have internet access.

When anyone can download a few hundred gigs and build their own maps server I see that as a good thing (TM).

Re:OpenStreetMap Server (2)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46104819)

When anyone can download a few hundred gigs and build their own maps server I see that as a good thing (TM).

Let me know when that happens.
Never mistake your (company supplied) hardware and paid "fun time" and your technical expertise for something "anyone" can do.

Re:OpenStreetMap Server (1)

segedunum (883035) | about 6 months ago | (#46105161)

Let me know when that happens.

It's happened because it's possible, just as open source software has. You are somewhat missing the point here.

Re:OpenStreetMap Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46105309)

It wouldn't take much. The OsmAnd mapping app for Android is practically already there. It provides a handy interface for downloading OBF (compressed vector) files of regions of the world, does all the rendering, and can even do neat things like routing. If you slapped an HTTP interface onto it to request rendered tiles, "anyone" really could have a map server. Sure there are practical problems with the setup (I saw those eyes of yours roll at the thought of running a map server on Android!) but you asked for easy, not scalable ;)

Re:OpenStreetMap Server (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46106073)

OsmAnd routing may exist but it isn't very good.

tracking-safe... (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 6 months ago | (#46104405)

Sure google/apple won't know which map you are looking at...
They'll just know everyting else about your trip, from researching information on logistics to points of interest. And that's before you go there and get tracked in real time. Then when you're back, they'll have all the extra comments you attach to your pictures, just in case your best friend is going around phone-free.

thank heavens for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46104417)

flashblock - i'd lose my lunch if /'tard goes to video

invaluable (1)

flok (24996) | about 6 months ago | (#46104421)

openwlanmap.org [openwlanmap.org] uses it to display maps of wifi-war-drived-data when you submit any. I scanned wifi-access points while driving to France for a holiday; amazing how many access points you detect even in the middle of nowhere!

Also my toy-project O2OO [vanheusden.com] uses its api (very simple to implement!) to draw car-sensor data of a trip you made on a map. Nice to see how e.g. the load of the engine changes when taking a corner or driving uphill ("duh" I hear you say, but it is nice to see how much it changes).

Re:invaluable (1)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46104875)

openwlanmap.org [openwlanmap.org] uses it to display maps of wifi-war-drived-data when you submit any. I scanned wifi-access points while driving to France for a holiday; amazing how many access points you detect even in the middle of nowhere!

Pathetic pikers compared to https://wigle.net/ [wigle.net]

http://openwlanmap.org/northam... [openwlanmap.org]
https://wigle.net/images/rigle... [wigle.net]

Re:invaluable (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46106049)

I thought that said openlawnmap.org and thought it could have been people uploading maps of the back yards.

it's no good for geeks (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about 6 months ago | (#46104475)

unless it maps basements

A solution in search of a problem (1, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 6 months ago | (#46104483)

The OpenStreetMap people are trying to fix problems that don't actually exist.

"Who decides what gets displayed on a Google Map? The answer is, of course, that Google does. I heard this concern in a meeting with a local government in 2009: they were concerned about using Google Maps on their website because Google makes choices about which businesses to display.

So what? When I search an address, Google shows me where it is. By looking at the map i can see that I need to take street A to Street B and turn left on street C. I don't need a big label that says "LOLS HEREZ TEH PLACE UR LOOKING FOR".

"It seems inevitable that Google will monetise geographic searches, with either premium results, or priority ordering, if it hasn't done so already (is it a coincidence than when I search for "breakfast" near my home, the first result is "SUBWAY® Restaurants"?)."

If you're too stupid to look past the first search result, that's your problem.

Who defines where a neighbourhood is, or whether or not you should go? This issue was brought up by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) when a map provider was providing routing (driving/biking/walking instructions) and used what it determined to be "safe" or "dangerous" neighbourhoods as part of its algorithm. This raises the question of who determines what makes a neighbourhood "safe" or not – or whether safe is merely a codeword for something more sinister.

Yes, because god forbid we should actually tell the truth about something and admit that certain areas have much higher crime rates than others. If you don't like an area being designated as "unsafe" feel free to ignore it and go about your business. What happens after that is your problem, not mine.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 6 months ago | (#46104583)

I disagree. I recently went to New Zealand where I had no cell service (I'm on Sprint and they don't do CDMA). I downloaded New Zealand on OsmAnd and the only problem getting around is that there weren't enough waypoints on the south island. But I just went on Google maps and looked up the Lat/Long and navigated using that. Offline GPS FTW. There is no other way I could have done this without service.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (4, Interesting)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 6 months ago | (#46105117)

I used this for navigating all around cities in Europe. The data set over there is very complete.

Frankly, having a smartphone which can't operate it's most useful and potentially life-saving features without a data connection just seems retarded - and I'd regard having very completely world maps on the device as a critical aspect of that.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46104881)

The OpenStreetMap people are trying to fix problems that don't actually exist.

"Who decides what gets displayed on a Google Map? The answer is, of course, that Google does. I heard this concern in a meeting with a local government in 2009: they were concerned about using Google Maps on their website because Google makes choices about which businesses to display.

So what? When I search an address, Google shows me where it is. By looking at the map i can see that I need to take street A to Street B and turn left on street C. I don't need a big label that says "LOLS HEREZ TEH PLACE UR LOOKING FOR".

I don't think they were talking about search results. Rather, what businesses are displayed on the basemap. Business owner goes to the city website and sees their competitor displayed on the map but not their own business. Now it looks like the city is endorsing one over the other. Lawsuits ensue. Or just petty bickering. Whatever. The point is that if you have all the data behind the map you can make these decisions for yourself instead of just taking whatever $company gives you.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (0)

segedunum (883035) | about 6 months ago | (#46105183)

----------> Point








------------> Your head

Re:A solution in search of a problem (2)

mars-nl (2777323) | about 6 months ago | (#46105601)

The OpenStreetMap people are trying to fix problems that don't actually exist.

Google Maps: Google decides what is displayed on the map. Google owns the data. We can't do anything with the data.
OSM: You and me decide what is displayed on the map. We own the data. We can do whatever we want with the data.

I'm sorry if you can't see the disadvantage of having your life (Google Maps, Google Search, Google Books, Google Mail, Andoid, Chrome...) owned by some company whose only interest it is to please shareholders. I'm sorry if you cannot appreciate freedom.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46106605)

When I search an address, Google shows me where it is.

And while you're looking at that map they also label the location of businesses that you didn't search for, that have paid extra to be displayed. *That* is what the original quote was about.

In whom? (1)

hooiberg (1789158) | about 6 months ago | (#46104549)

In some more than in others.

Unstable identifiers problematic? (1)

aharth (412459) | about 6 months ago | (#46104627)

OpenStreetMap identifiers are not stable (at least according to a 2011 post [openstreetmap.org] ), which makes reusing and linking OpenStreetMap data a bit challenging. Did that change?

Re:Unstable identifiers problematic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46104743)

No, there are no guarantees about object ids. There is even an influx of mappers that are naive to their existence.

But a spatial query and some filtering should reliably return a thing that exists at a place.

No embedded video in beta slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46104675)

Which is sucky since the RSS feed links randomly to the beta version of articles.

Downloading maps doesn't hide your location (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 6 months ago | (#46104723)

Downloading maps doesn't hide your location. Your cell phone is still pinging off cell towers and can be triangulated fairly accurately by by the cell towers using only signal strength, which is information it already has in hand in order to handle tower handoffs. If you are talking about a non-communications enabled navigation device, then you might as well buy a Garmin or one of the others, which already have the maps data internally.

Re:Downloading maps doesn't hide your location (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46105587)

No, but looking up a location in your own copy of the map does hide which locations you are interested in going to

Re:Downloading maps doesn't hide your location (1)

SWroclawski (95770) | about 6 months ago | (#46105695)

You don't need to use a phone. You could use a GPS, or use a tablet without a cell phone. Or you could put your phone in Airplane mode

i like openstreepmap (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 6 months ago | (#46104727)

it performs better in my browser than google maps, i can glide from place to place by dragging the map around in my browser, google maps is a slow bloated piece of crap because of all the features google bloated their map up with, so yeah i am in favor of openstreetmap surviving

Why's Obi Wan Kenobi on this call? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46104961)

Why's Obi Wan Kenobi on this call, watching from the bottom right?

Why's Obi Wan Kenobi on the call? (1)

FredMastro (1238062) | about 6 months ago | (#46104991)

Why's Obi Wan Kenobi on the call, watching from the bottom right?

Re:Why's Obi Wan Kenobi on the call? (1)

Roblimo (357) | about 6 months ago | (#46105785)

I'm not Obi Wan. Really.

Not written for the Guardian (5, Informative)

SWroclawski (95770) | about 6 months ago | (#46105159)

I wrote the article, but I didn't write it *for* The Guardian. They picked it up and syndicated it, as did Gizmodo ( http://gizmodo.com/why-the-wor... [gizmodo.com] ), but the original is still on my blog: http://blog.emacsen.net/blog/2... [emacsen.net]

Re:Not written for the Guardian (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 6 months ago | (#46106947)

Did the summary change from something else to "an article Serge wrote for his blog that The Guardian picked up"?

Also, are you aware that the things you write might get syndicated? My blog doesn't do that, and I would shit myself out of surprise if someone syndicated something that I wrote without me knowing.

Also, are you aware of what happens when you syndicate things? Maybe you are now, but were you?

In other words, you seem surprised. But not as surprised as I would be. So your objection seems just a little out of sorts. I grew up with syndicated writers in the newspaper, and it never once gave links to the original blog. Many citations to columnists list a syndicated source rather than the original, which is perfectly legitimate if that's your source.

I suppose now I'm just as confused as you are, but for different reasons.

Re:Not written for the Guardian (1)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about 6 months ago | (#46107533)

I can't imagine he's all that surprised, since his website says people are "actively encouraged" to syndicate its content.

The syndicated columns of our youth were a bit different, though. Newspapers had to contact the syndicating companyto seek permission and pay money for the right to reproduce the column for a certain period of time, and some writers (like Dave Barry) had their home paper mentioned at the beginning or end of each column. It wasn't a free-for-all where for-profit papers just copied the columns each week without contacting or compensating the creator, as is becoming the norm now.

Re:Not written for the Guardian (1)

SWroclawski (95770) | about 6 months ago | (#46108629)

In my case, the only things I require are that the work cite me as the original author and that they are distributed under the same terms. I don't require explicit permission, nor do I ask for any money. I do also ask that the original article is linked to, and that my twitter name is mentioned. Those aren't required, but they're pretty small accomodations to make. That's just so that I can try to build an audience.

Re:Not written for the Guardian (1)

SWroclawski (95770) | about 6 months ago | (#46108621)

Yes, it originally said I wrote it for the Guardian. I asked Roblimo to change it, and he did. No harm, no foul.

I just want to make clear to anyone who wants to use my post (this or others on my blog) that they're free to do so under the same terms (CC-BY-SA).

END FLASH ON /. NOW (4, Insightful)

SD-Arcadia (1146999) | about 6 months ago | (#46105179)

Fascinating topic, and I'd love to check it out but TOO BAD the video requires the craptastic Adobe Flash plugin. It's 2014, Flash is dying and HTML5 is the real way of doing things now. And Slashdot is supposed to be the home of FOSS-friendly early-adopting geeks? WTF?

Re:END FLASH ON /. NOW (3, Interesting)

Roblimo (357) | about 6 months ago | (#46105763)

I totally agree with you, and I have asked management over and over to make the (I believe minor) code changes that would allow Slashdot to display HTML5 videos.

OpenStreemap in disaster response (3, Informative)

caseih (160668) | about 6 months ago | (#46105313)

In recent years, OpenStreetmap has been used more and more in disaster response. This is because the data can be updated easily by volunteers on the ground, and it can easily serve as the basis for custom maps. A number of organizations have been in the news in recent years with their work in disaster response and OpenStreetmap. For example, MapAction.org, iMMAP.org, and SahanaFoundation.org, and probably others. I'm sure they use google maps too, but the OpenStreetmap source provides flexibility that none of the other commercial mapping sources can.

Re:OpenStreemap in disaster response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46105783)

USAID is another recent example: http://blog.usaid.gov/2014/01/usaid-welcomes-the-crowd-to-use-geo-mapping-tools-for-open-source-development/

Re:OpenStreemap in disaster response (1)

bluegutang (2814641) | about 6 months ago | (#46108101)

The next step is to anticipate disasters (when possible - hurricanes yes, earthquakes no) and begin the mapping effort even before the disaster arrives...

Does OSM hold more temporary data? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46105739)

What I would love to see, is something like OSM but with a much more temporary dataset.

Right now there are a lot of apps that let you enter road hazard or police data. The trouble is that's only going up to one server, not helping the people that use all the other apps.

I would love to see some centralization, or more likely federalization of this data - so that you could use and contribute to temporary road condition events while helping (and being helped) from a much wider pool of people.

OSM needs better software. (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46105967)

I've been trying out OsmAnd+ and its route calculation is a bit shit.
On my way home from work it tells me to exit the motorway, go through the intersection then go back on the motorway. wtf?
Even trying to get out the city, it kept telling me to turn off the street I was on, which is a straight one-way street that goes directly to the motorway and go back through the city to take another onramp.

Going in to work it tries to take me through the most narrow and congested streets possible.

Re:OSM needs better software. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46106107)

There are settings to toggle between shortest / fastest route and to prefer motorways (in your example I would still expect 'fastest' to always stay on the motorway. If it doesn't that's some kind of bug.).

There is also a setting to specify your driving region. I believe this changes the routing rules to account for regional differences (what a surprise!).

I'm not sure how the defaults are set. They might give you better routing.

Re:OSM needs better software. (1)

Askmum (1038780) | about 6 months ago | (#46107711)

The point made by viperidaenz is valid, OSMAnd has this flaw and it does not seem to be possible to change settings to fix it. OSRM [project-osrm.org] has the same bug. The issue has been reported over and over again, with proposals for fixes, but for some reason the makers of these applications are not able or willing to solve the issue. The underlying problem is that their route calculation says it is the fastest road, so they show it. The problem is that they do not give proper penalty for taking an offramp and/or intersection.
Which is strange, because I never had those kind of issues with Garmin or TomTom.

Re:OSM needs better software. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46106327)

Route calculations are only as good as the data. When you look at the map, you see colored lines. Underneath are data points required to determine intersections, one way streets, directions of travel, etc.

Re:OSM needs better software. (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 6 months ago | (#46108063)

Yep, OsmAnd+ sucks. Unfortunately it is the only semi-usable bicycle navigation and it is even kinda sorta usable offroads.

Try Mapfactor Navigator Free. It is closed source and with ads, but it does use OSM as their map source. Way better routing than OsmAnd.

No video in beta-slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46107933)

Weird, I don't see any video in this post when I'm using the new beta layout.

OSM has a big problem in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46108333)

A few years back - a little before Google released free SatNav software for mobile phones - I made some significant progress in writing a SatNav app of my own. But the further I got with it, the more I realised that it couldn't easily be effective in the UK. Because in the UK postcodes (ZIP codes to you Americans) are not freely available. You have to buy the database for thousands of pounds (which is also thousands of dollars) from the Royal Mail.

There are websites like http://www.freethepostcode.org/ that are trying to create a free version of the database, but the quality there is terrible. So low, that it can't be successfully used for SatNav purposes.

If OSM is to do much better in the UK, we really needs a legal reform to declare that postcodes are owned by the public - which they really should be.

OSM - Maps+ (1)

coofercat (719737) | about 5 months ago | (#46109055)

I checked out OSM after the last /. story on the subject after years of forgetting about it. I checked out where I live (a small village), and sure enough there were some crazy errors (eg. a circular road not connected to any other - I'd love to see something like this in real life!), but a couple of minutes with the mouse and they're all fixed now. I also added in some extra detail I happen to know quite well.

What I'd like to see is what my TomTom and g-maps and as far as I know everyone else lacks - I'd like to add some meta to the roads. For example, a road might have a 30mph speed limit, but it's got mountainous speed humps every 50 yards, so it's a really crappy cut-through. Roads near me often lack pavements - that could be really handy to know when I'm out running, or taking the kids out in their push chair (or in the future, on their scooters, roller-skates or whatever). Single track roads can either be easy or hard to drive down - if there are lots of good sized passing places that aren't a matter of trying to put your car into an overgrown hedge, then it's easier than those roads that have high hedgerows either side and very few passing places. I could go on to poor visibility junctions, blind corners where people driving in the opposite direction always seem to be in the middle of the road, and countless other phenomena that would be really great to know about on a map. I'm sure you get the idea.

So anyway... I've told the Internet what my wishlist is. I dare say it'll all be implemented by the end of the week ;-)

Other alternatives to Google exist as well (1)

Thomasje (709120) | about 5 months ago | (#46109229)

I use Sygic for navigation. They have iOS and Android apps. The apps use maps that are loaded on the device, so they take up a good chunk of space, but on the other hand this means you don't need an Internet connection to navigate (if you've ever been hit with international data roaming charges, you'll really appreciate this), and the app doesn't phone home to Google every time I use it.

They use the same map provider as TomTom. Whether that's better than OpenStreetMap or not probably depends on where you are... I've personally never had issues with map accuracy from any providers, but my travels so far have been exclusively in densely populated parts of Europe and the U.S., which are probably well mapped in any case.

N.B. I don't mean to advertise Sygic specifically; I'm sure other stand-alone navigation apps exist that are just as good. My point is that if you don't want Google to always know where you are, and are leery of the accuracy of community-provided maps, there are good alternatives.

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