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…

5 thoughts on “OpenStreetMap”

  1. It looks like yahoo allows you to use their satelite photos to create maps. That is much faster than GPS. We should all thank Yahoo for this 🙂

  2. Well, the problem with that is that Yahoo photos might not be as accurate as someone taking the route itself and recording it (of course, once there is coverage for everywhere 🙂 Also, it does not include information such as speed limits, one-way/2-ways, the name of the street/road/motorway, etc, etc

  3. I’ve been contributing to OSM for about a year, so..

    Just some more info:
    gpsbabel can help users convert any of their GPS tracklogs (Magellan .log, etc) into GPX files.

    OpenStreetMap encourages users to upload their GPX logs to their server aswell, to assist with future edits, and to show proof of how the data is sourced.

    A lot of the hard work is collecting street data, you have to note everything down by hand! (because the majority of sources use copyrighted data)

    I hope you enjoy contributing to OSM.

    Yahoo imagery is a good help in cities due to problems with gps inteference in urban areas, information still needs to be collected by hand.

  4. These days I seem to spend most of my time tracing Yahoo aerial imagery.

    But keep in mind the Y! imagery isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. You get very little metadata from them. You don’t get street names, you can’t see which junctions are mini roundabouts, which have traffic lights etc., you often have parallax problems with tall buildings. And tall buildings cast long shadows.

    In short, to get a good map you will still end up having to travel all these places with a notepad or dictaphone.

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