Yesterday Apple launched iPhoto, its photo management app, for the iPad and iPhone… and we’re rather pleased to find they’re the latest to switch to OpenStreetMap.
The desktop version of iPhoto, and indeed all of Apple’s iOS apps until now, use Google Maps. The new iPhoto for iOS, however, uses Apple’s own map tiles – made from OpenStreetMap data (outside the US).
The OSM data that Apple is using is rather old (start of April 2010) so don’t expect to see your latest and greatest updates on there. It’s also missing the necessary credit to OpenStreetMap’s contributors; we look forward to working with Apple to get that on there.
But we’re delighted to see another prominent map user make the switch to OpenStreetMap, and look forward to many more.
We live in a world dominated by and surrounded by brands. One of the hallmarks of a successful brand is whether it’s able to be immediately recognised as that brand, without necessarily looking too deeply for a brand label. Look at a car and you’ll probably be able to tell whether it’s a Ford or not. Look at a laptop and you’ll probably be able to tell whether it’s Apple’s or one of those faceless, grey, consumer models. Look at an espresso cup and you’ll probably be able to tell whether it’s got coffee from Illy in it.
As it is in the real, offline world, so it is in the digital, online world and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the world of digital maps. Each mapping provider has an immediately recognisable look, feel and style to it. You can tell whether the map is from Nokia or NAVTEQ, from Google, from Mapquest or from OpenStreetMap. Now granted, a digital map is the product of lots of data sources but the map’s style is unique; although OpenStreetMap’s style is almost the exception as there’s several styles you can use.
Ever since the launch of the original iPhone, for Apple that look and feel of their maps have been Google’s. Even before you look to the bottom right hand corner of the map and see the Google logo you’ll know it’s a Google map. There’s also been lots of rumours that with Apple’s acquisitions in the mapping space, C3 and Placebase to name but a few, it wouldn’t be too long before Apple had their own map.
Maybe that time has now come, for iPhoto on iOS at least. Take a look at the screen grabs above. These maps aren’t, at least at face value, Google’s. The map style isn’t Google’s and even more interestingly, there’s no immediately apparent copyright or brand notice anywhere on the map. Is this Apple’s new map or is it another map provider’s under a license that doesn’t need branding?MacRumors. Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)
There have been some weeks now since Bing coverage of Brazil (and probably much more) have been extended, and many places in Brazil (and maybe elsewhere in the world) have turned into a editing frenzy. The map is improving quickly, some places so quickly that we start getting into conflicts because several users edits the same objects roughly at the same time. This is both a positive and negative thing. Positive because the map quickly improves, negative because it increases the possibility of having the same object duplicated sevaral times.
Another reasent development have been the switch of base map in FourSquare from google to OSM. At first several Brazilian cities turned into white spots in FourSquare, but some bright minds have taken unto them to correct this. At least one new active mapper have turned up because of this, helping putting more of Brazil on the map.
The effect this have had on the data is that the size of the XML files of Brazil have increased extremely. I am not able to do a check for all of Brazil (I neither have the bandwidth nor the discspace to do a comparison, nor have historical archives to show me the old sizes) but the state of Espírito Santo have close to doubled since chirstmas. If this is representative for the rest of Brazil than this might become challenging.
When that is said I have discovered another open project called openBmap (check out site) that collects harvested data regarding mobile phone (and wi-fi) coverage based on combining signal strengths with GPS possitions. I have installed their harvesting app on my mobile, and have collected a few points of ViVo coverage near Vitoria. I think I should have this logging running when driving around in the area, for the harvested ViVo data so far only shows 2G coverage, while there are quite lot of 3G coverage in the area. According to what I have read on the project it should be able to log 4G coverage, but to my knowledge this isn't available in Brazil yet.
La nouvelle version stable de JOSM vient de paraître sous le numéro de build 5047.
Il s'agit principalement d'une version de maintenance, où une grosse partie du travail a constitué à "nettoyer" l'ensemble des raccourcis clavier, noyau et greffons confondus. La liste des raccourcis mise à jour est disponible sur le site (en anglais pour l'instant):
Pour plus d'informations sur les autres changements apportés par cette version, je vous invite comme d'habitude à consulter le changelog:
Every map of the world has to take into account that there are land areas and water areas. You could have huge polygons for each continent and paint them on a blue background. But handling those huge polygons is difficult. OpenStreetMap solves this problem by having ways tagged with “natural=coastline” and the convention that the land is always on the left side of this way. So a continent or an island is surrounded by one or more ways in counter-clockwise order. It is much easier to edit those coastlines instead of large multipolygon relations or something like it. Coastlines are the only case where OSM has this special rule.
But to use those coastlines for rendering or anything else, the coastline ways have to be assembled into “proper” polygons. And because those polygons are then too big to be used efficiently for many uses (including the rendering of maps), they have to be cut up into smaller pieces. For years we have been using the coastcheck application for this. Unfortunately coastcheck is quite a horrible mixture of scripts and programs thats difficult to work with and more difficult to work on. And it is slow. But, to be fair, it did it’s job for a long time.
Apart from being slow there are some things it doesn’t do and the problem of amending or replacing it have come up a few times. Most recently at the Karlsruhe Hack Weekend when Sven Geggus needed polygons for the water (and not for the land as coastcheck creates them). I have also wished several times to have nice land polygons to clip administrative boundaries on so that they don’t go out into the sea.
So last week I thought: How hard can it be to re-write all of that from scratch? To a) make it faster and b) allow a few more options in the output. As usual it turns out to be a mixture of “not hard at all” and “suprisingly tricky”. Using Osmium to walk though an OSM file and get all the ways tagged with “natural=coastline” is easy. And assembling the polygons isn’t that difficult either. But I also want to generate reasonably sensible error indications when something went wrong, for instance show the place where there is a self-intersection in one of the polygons. So that needed a bit of experimenting. Also we have to take “holes” into account, ie. bodies of water inside land areas. Normally “natural=coastline” should not be used for those (use “natural=water” or one of a few other tags instead), but there are a few hundred cases (for instance the Great Lakes in North America) so that has to be taken into account.
And the whole thing should be a) fast and b) not use too much memory. I first tried the simple approach of reading the OSM file only once, keeping all node positions in RAM for later use when assembling the polygons from the ways. But that needs about 13 GB of RAM just for those node positions. So I switched to reading the OSM file twice which makes the whole thing a bit slower but not really that much.
I am not finished yet, but I am releasing my OSMCoastline code anyway. It reads a planet file, assembles the polygons, and writes out the coastline and several error files in different formats. It does not fix broken rings (when there are gaps in the coastline), it does not project the coordinates into Mercartor and it does not split up the huge polygons into smaller ones. But it is reasonably clean and documented code, so those things can be added. It takes about 3GB of RAM and not even 20 minutes to run on a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor.
If and when I have the time I’ll add those extra features (and work on the documentation). But if you feel adventurous you can already play around with it (or add some features). You can look at the shapefiles it generates with QGIS for instance. I have supplied a QGIS project file. Just be aware that some of the polygons are huge (the largest polygon – Europe/Asia/Africa – has over 4 million points from over 38000 ways) and even on modern machines it takes a renderer quite a while to display that.
I was positively surprised a little time ago when I opened my JOSM, and discovered that Bing! coverage had been greatly extended. I looked around Espírito Santo and saw that much of what I had been missing have been included, though there are still many areas of interest to me that are not yet included.
A mapping frenzie ensued from this discovery, and much have already been added to the map. I have come to a point where I soon cannot add much very useful information in my short edits anymore, but think I will look into polishing adjoining information as well as information within Espírito Santo (such as improving boundary relations around Brazil, such as municipalities in Rio de Janeiro state, and State and Federal highways in Espírito Santo.
It is desirable to see even further extension of Bing coverage, and guess that might be acomplished again next year (don't hand out too much candy at one time I guess). The map is slowly but surely improving, and already many places OSM shows much better map data then some comersial maps, and google.
Now, with the last improvement in coverage and resulting edit frenzie, the Brazil map is getting so big in OSMAND and other navigator software that maybe it is due time to cut it into state size portions. I browsed Geofabrik and CloudMade and noticed CloudMade already offer Brazilian states for Garmin and TomTom as well as state poli, shapefiles and osm extracts. OSMAND seems to base its chunks on Geofabrik who still only offer entire Brazil. Geofabrik seems to have daily updates while the last update of CloudMade seems to be 13th of December 2011, almost 3 months ago.
The sysadmin team have brought some more hardware on-line for our delight. OpenStreetMap servers are named after dragons, taken from “Here be Dragons” the inscription denoting incomplete / unexplored places on historical maps. Learn more about OpenStreetMap dragons.
We also welcome the two newest members of the server team, Ian Dees (iandees) and Sarah Hoffman (lonvia). They will be maintaining the Java-XAPI and nominatim servers.Photo credit
Photo by Firefishy.
It's nice seeing the OSM.org UI gradually evolving in to something more sleek and attractive. Keep up the good work! :)
Earlier this week FourSquare announced that they switched their website maps from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap data hosted by MapBox. In what has been a growing trend of broader adoption, FourSquare remarks the utility and success of OpenStreetMap. Additionally it’s another movement in the recent switch2osm campaign since Google began requiring paid licensing for high-usage of the once completely free Google Maps.
Currently the switch is only for the website, which I admit I have used less than a dozen times and the mobile application will still be using the native Google Maps libraries. There are a number of valid reasons for this, not least of which is that Google is not yet charging for mobile maps usage, though I imagine it only a matter of time before they do and also for developers to build comparable mobile mapping libraries for OpenStreetMap.Value of the Basemap
There are several intriguing aspects of this announcement as well as the reaction. First is that the change of the basemap, while intriguing to the geospatial and data communities, is likely highly irrelevant to most FourSquare users. Would there have been much news had the switch been to Microsoft Bing maps? Probably not. The interest is clearly impacted by the community, and general good will, of the OpenStreetMap project. Each adoption by a major company further verifies its value, as well as solidifies its continuity as organizations build their own business with OpenStreetMap as a core component.
Second is that there have been a number of companies whose primary, or recent, goal has been to be a trusted provider of OpenStreetMap basemaps. CloudMade, started by one of the founders of OpenStreetMap Steve Coast, was created for exactly this purpose. Additionally MapQuest has been using OpenStreetMap as a tactic to increase adoption of their long-standing mapping platform as well as insure themselves against likely increasing commercial data provider costs. However it was an extremely recent technology, albeit from a longer established company, to be the one to provide the OpenStreetMap basemap for FourSquare.
Development Seed’s MapBox is truly a compelling creation of technology and innovation. They have done extremely well adopting the best of breed software, and the development team that built it, with Mapnik. And they combined it with new technology to make it fast, and a differentiating and compelling story for developers by using Node.js. Technical details aside, the design and thought into the representation of OpenStreetMap clearly was a key differentiator in FourSquare using Mapbox to serve their OpenStreetMap tiles. And I’ll also add that Development Seed is a local DC and East Coast company – something I don’t doubt was interesting to the New York based FourSquare in pushing against the typical Silicon Valley technology scene.
Of course, in the end it is just a basemap. This is the background canvas that contains the actually valuable information that FourSquare has gathered and users engage with. The switch from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap does not in any way change the value or usage of the FourSquare application and community. Technically there is no real difference – it’s possible to restyle most any basemap today, and I imagine the switch from one provider to another was a relatively trivial code switch. FourSquare, or others, could just as easily switch to a new basemap if it was important to them as a business or their community.More than a Basemap
What I am most excited about, and believe FourSquare has an almost unique potential to enable, is the adoption of OpenStreetMap as more than just the canvas for visualizing check-in’s and user activity. OpenStreetMap’s true value is that it is an open, editable, relational database of geographic data – where the basemap is merely one way to access the information. What makes OpenStreetMap the future of location data is that the information can only get better, more up to date more quickly, and better representative of unique and varied views of a person’s place.
Several years ago Dennis and I had a conversation just after the initial launch of FourSquare about the potential of using OpenStreetMap. At the beginning, FourSquare only worked in specific cities, and in his considering how to expand it everywhere the options were between having a blank database and having an OpenStreetMap populated dataset. Obviously the tremendous potential was having the then nascent community of FourSquare users using and updating OpenStreetMap data. Unfortunately for usability and I assume business reasons (e.g. build your own database that you can own) FourSquare didn’t adopt OpenStreetMap at that time.
However, imagine if FourSquare adopted just this technique. Leverage their millions of users to improve the OpenStreetMap database. OpenStreetMap itself suffers from the common platform issue of being everything to everyone. This is confusing for new users that want to contribute to know where to begin. They may just want to include the road in front of their house – or the park down the street and the great coffee shop they frequent. Unfortunately the interface for performing these activities often requires understanding of British terminology of places and an overwhelming choice of categories, tags, and drawing options.
FourSquare by contrast is forced to be simple and focused. Users are quickly engaging and disengaging with the application that should capture the data and reflect it to the user for verification. Because my activity is being tracked, FourSquare can know that I’m on foot in the US and in an urban area, so don’t start by showing me hiking trails, or highways but show me restaurant and relevant places of interest – allowing me to dive deeper if I want to but making it simple for the casual user to improve the data. I believe that only through simple and focused user applications will OpenStreetMap broadly enter into the common use and be able to reach the end tail of location data.
Of course, this assumes FourSquare, specifically the investors and board, don’t see their user collected place data as a key and protected dataset. There have been enough POI selling companies in a dying market. There are now businesses such as Factual, and still CloudMade, who are focused on making this data openly available – though themselves as brokers to the data.
Despite continuing to cross numerous impressive adoption hurdles and over seven years of development, OpenStreetMap is still a young project. Its adoption by FourSquare is indeed another momentous occasion that heralds optimism that it will continue to grow. And as companies like Development Seed, CloudMade, MapQuest and others adopt OpenStreetMap as a core to their business – providing not just services but truly engaging with the community and providing focused context and value, OpenStreetMap will only get better.
February 13th, 2012 - February 27th, 2012
A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap (OSM) world.
Did we miss something? You can contact us via email@example.com
For a moment there I thought JOSM had done something surprisingly cool. I can't make it happen again though so maybe I was dreaming...
When you draw a building using the Buildings tool/plugin, and the building you create contains a POI node such as a pub or cafe or restaurant or bank... should JOSM apply those POI tags to your new building and remove the node?
It is January 12th, 2012, 2 years after the quake, that I started my eighth trip to Haiti where HOT will partner with the Communauté OpenStreetMap Haiti (COSMHA). The project, STM0120, funded by USAID/OTI/HRI. This project aims at building a team of 30 youths from the communes of Saint Marc, Arcahaie and Cabaret as well as mapping the Saint Marc Development Corridor (SMDC) formed by those three communes in the course of the next three months.
The 12th of January is not an ordinary day in Haiti. One thinks about the dead, the injured, the damages, and those who survive, those who continue to live with this recent part of Haiti’s history. One is also forced to contemplate the tremendous effort of global and local unity at work in the immediate aftermath of the quake and after. Lastly, one looks ahead towards the reconstruction of Haiti to pursue and strengthen this solidarity.
The OSM project is one of the examples of this global solidarity at play after the quake in Haiti and now grounded in Haiti. The OSM response has been been timely, massive, relevant and continued. Today it results in a referenced base map which has been widely used by the broad humanitarian system, the government of Haiti and groups of the Civil Society during emergency response to the current early recovery phase. The map has been maintained mostly in Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, but also in Leogane, Jacmel and Gonaives by humanitarian groups, Haitian mappers from COSMHA, as well as international mappers active in Haiti. Paid projects such as humanitarian and baseline data surveys led by the International Organization of Migration ((IOM), the Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI) and Architecture for Humanity (AFH), working in partnership with Haitians from COSMHA and benefiting from various forms of support by HOT, generate incomes which in return allow for some the Haitian mappers to engage voluntarily in community-driven and self managed mapping projects such as Soley Leve and Tap Tap Map). Trainings form the second pillar of the OSM activity in country and have been largely happening from within IOM and UN facilities benefiting all player in the humanitarian system, the Government of Haiti and groups from Civil Society. Aside from those typical humanitarian facilities, the Resource Center of Haiti Communitere (HC) has gained a central position over the last year, offering COSMHA a lab from where meeting, training, designing, planning and implementing projects is possible. Through the facilitation of Jaakko Helleranta, the Ecole Supérieure d’infotronique d’Haïti (ESIH) has developed over the last months as another lab from which further OSM work can develop. Attention to shaping the future of OSM in Haiti guides HOT, COSMHA and internationals into discussing and designing projects around OSM training and data collection to make the system sustainable and grow the community.
The STM020 mapping project that HOT and COSMHA are about to start in Saint Marc results from a long project design phase that started last August between the two organizations and USAID/OTI/HRI. We’d like to thank the initial facilitation role played by Pascale Verly and Leonard Doyle with whom COSMHA and HOT has been working with IOM since a year ago. In the context of the second anniversary of 12-Jan , it’s rewarding for HOT to work on this project as a contractor of COSMHA which is the grantee of this project.
Both structures find in USAID/OTI/HRI a sound partner, understanding of OSM and willing through this project to assess the potential of its approach around building capacities through our Train The Trainer (TTT) scheme and baseline surveys and mapping in the context of local economic development.
A HOT/COSMHA team of ten supported in the initial three weeks by 3 trainers will be based in Saint Marc in a hub of their own both a workplace and a lodging center equipped with adequate hardware and furnished with the right logistics assets to train 30 Youths from the Saint Marc Development Corridor (SMDC) in the art of mapping ala OSM and altogether improve upon the base map of these three communes.
The project will be carried out in close cooperation with SDC communities to ensure relevance of the OSM map in the Corridor. This has been facilitated first hand through the initial ground work laid out by COSMHA, the territorial ties that Levekanpe, the local contractor of USAID/OTI/HRI, has developed in the area, and the 30 Youths representing the various communities from three section communales. Consultation, outreach, awareness, and map releases will be organized. HOT and COSMHA will also be attentively engaged with Local and National Authorities through similar outreach activitties and through ad hoc training based on available resources.
COSMHA and HOT seek to make of Saint Marc a hub for the development of OSM in Haiti and will use the community gained over the last two years within the Haitian GIS world to connect the Saint Marc Youths to the various uses of OSM that have been happening in Haiti, presenting lectures or hands-on sessions on topics such as Geography, crisis mapping, GIS applied to humanitarian, urban planning. This will be done with the view of replicating some successes in Saint Marc after the three months project. Asides from the Youths, what HOT is looking at is to grow the ability of COSMHA to manage such projects and be able to replicate it in a phase 2.0 with USAID/OTI/HRI. The project will also be a working ground for HOT with the hosting of volunteers and interns, who can be acquainted with field work and help the team to meet the challenge.
HOT also has a role to play in this mapping project from afar and after the initial set up the team will respond with ideas of engagement for those who are willing to step in.
Finally, to ensure the widest usability of the map of Saint Marc as well as enhancing the HOT toolsets, data download and web-visualization services will be built. Data download services will be developed to facilitate the generation of OSM extracts (osm, Spatialite and shapefile) based upon preset files. This will foster access to customized data extracts and facilitate the process for COSMHA to make the data resulting from its surveys and mapping accessible to all.
Plane landed a couple of hours ago in Ayiti, more soon.
GIS Corps is joining together with HOT again for a join project. The first collaboration between HOT and GIS Corps occurred during the Samoa exercise that happened earlier this year. Once again we are joining forces to work mapping Padang City in Indonesia. GIS Corps is a volunteer organization that provides GIS Professionals as volunteers. They’ve been in existence since 2003 and have had about 2500 volunteers from 93 countries. We are are excited that 11 of their members are going to join us to help complete the Help Map for a Safer Padang Task (requires OpenStreetMap login). You can read a little bit more about those joining us, such as the countries they hail from on the GIS Corps website.
The goal of the effort is to map all the streets and buildings in Padang so that it can feed into risk models. The Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction (AIFDR) can then use this information as the exposure component for risk modeling. Others can potentially also additionally build on the data easily using Walking Papers in the future as well.
We look forward to moving forward on this. Thanks for the help GIS Corps!
Nestoria have given a very generous donation to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
In a blog post CEO Ed Freyfogle explains:
“…rather than sending our clients and partners Christmas gifts, we’ve instead donated on their behalf to a project we believe has the potential to improve the lives of millions: the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT).”
What a great idea! The total amount was $2000 US. Huge thanks to nestoria, and to all of nestoria’s clients, for this Christmas gift. Nestoria, the property search engine, have been long-time supporters of OpenStreetMap, sponsoring the conferences and (as of recently) using OSM maps on all their sites.
We have fund-raising on our minds as we go into 2012. Significant sums of money often come in the form of funded projects, which present us with wonderful opportunities to get OpenStreetMap out there, but we also hope to raise more funds as with this donation, which give HOT some spending power in its own right, helping us to establish ourselves as an independent entity and allowing us to pursue our own goals more directly, perhaps even to fund our own deployments. Some announcements and more details of spending plans coming soon.
December 12th, 2011 - January 1st, 2012
A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap (OSM) world.
Did we miss something? You can contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org