While learning more about GPS on Linux, I’ve came across OpenStreetMap, a community project to create free maps for everyone to use. Since the maps is one of the biggest problems I’ve found with my TomTom (not being up-to-date, not including almost none off-road paths, being too expensive to update, etc), I’m starting to record my routes to upload them there and help thus in the creation of the free map of the world.

I haven’t really looked yet at the details on how you edit the routes, but the theory seems quite easy:

  1. You record your routes with your GPS unit in GPX format
  2. You load that GPX file into one of the OSM editors. With this, you add information to the route you just created, like identifying streets, paths, motorways, etc
  3. You upload the resulting file to OSM and that gets included in the full map

One of the nicest things, in theory still, seems to be osmarender, which is a tool to create a SVG file out of the OSM data created with the OSM editors. This means you can create a map out of a GPS track, or, that is, create your own maps!

Right now, Britain seems to have the best coverage, Spain being just partially covered. So, while the map itself is still not too useful (at least for me), it looks a very promising project, which just needs people all over the world to contribute to the map. So, if you have a GPS unit that can record routes to GPX, please start doing so whenever you can. If you are lazy enough to not want to learn all the process, just send me the GPX files or wait until I learn and I describe the process here.

More to come as I learn more about the whole process…