Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

November 14, 2006

OpenStreetMap: Creating a free map of the planet

Filed under: Interesting Sites,Tech Related — Suramya @ 12:26 PM

This is a really interesting idea. It uses the power of open source/wiki/group efforts to create a free map of the planet. Now you might ask why do we need a free map of the world? Can’t we just use Google Maps or Yahoo Maps to get a map? After all they don’t charge us for access…

Well yes and no. In the open source world there are two kinds of free: “free as in beer” and “free as in speech”. Google Maps are free as in beer, not as in speech.

Basically since Google has to pay for the mapping data it can’t make it available for free. So even though I can access it for free online and get directions I can’t export the map data and create a map to be used on a GPS from it. That would violate Google’s copyright. You can’t copy it to your local system and fix a street name that they got wrong or add new items to the map.

To fix this issue OpenStreetMap was born. It uses GPS coordinates fed to it by users to a Wiki like system and allows users to fill in information like street names etc. Which gives us surprisingly accurate and upto date data as whenever anything changes (e.g. a new street is added) anyone can edit the map and make the changes.

Check it out here: OpenStreetMap.

I think I will be using my GPS on my trips from now on and upload the tracking data collected to the site.

Thanks to TechRepublic for the link.

– Suramya

1 Comment »

  1. Fantastic site! I really like what you have done with it. If you get a chance, check out my site on FREE GPS Map Downloads. We are the top-rated GPS Map Download Source on the net!


    Comment by Got GPS Maps? — April 2, 2007 @ 11:05 PM

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