It is a bright and chilly October morning in Edinburgh and the second day of the OpenStreetMap ‘State of the Map Scotland 2013’ unconference. This event, now in its third year, gathers open street mappers based in Scotland. Not having as much experience in this field as I would like, and with Open Glasgow collaborating, I went along to find out more.
Last month’s OpenStreetMap (OSM) event was hosted in the stylish Inspace building on the corner of Pottersrow and Crichton Street. Check it out on OpenStreetMap. The space will soon be turned into a robotics laboratory, so the unconference is looking for a venue for next year. Comment below if you have any suggestions of new Scottish locations!
1.4 million contributors
OSM is a wiki map: free and open source. The data project started in 2004. Since then, 1.4m volunteers the world over have added huge amounts of accurate geographic information. Sign up here to become one of them.
A wealth of local information
Bob Kerr, an OSM volunteer well known for his work mapping the Craigmillar housing estate in Edinburgh, started off the day. In his introduction he demonstrated the whole OpenStreetMap itself and the level of detail available. Simply choose a particular layer to discover Edinburgh’s festival venues, bus stops, post-boxes, even streets with no names. We could also see the rain over the map of Glasgow and snow in Moscow (yes, it is possible to map weather!).
The volunteers know their areas so well that the M74 extension in Glasgow was up on OSM before Ordnance Survey (OS) added it to their map. The police found it useful to have this area at their disposal.
And further afield
When the 2010 earthquake destroyed Haiti, aid workers found themselves with no reliable map of the city, of the refugee camps and no clear view of where other aid groups operated. See how quickly volunteers put the map together using satellite images. ‘Humanitarian OSM’ was born.
And with Typhoon Haiyan causing tragic destruction in the Philippines, there is currently a relief effort underway. Read more here and get involved if you can.
In the UK, 97.81% of streets are mapped. In Scotland this number is 97.97%. Across the UK, six councils are complete. However, Glasgow is still under-mapped.
Helping tourists navigate the city
Engineer Ian Elder presented how Skyscanner Geo Project is looking to use open data to build a more joined-up view of the city for visitors: find a hotel by a river, a restaurant in a park, see how the airport is connected to the rest of the city. He also shared some challenges he faced in finding a suitable host map.
More OSM inspiration
The other presentations from the day:
– Make the most of your gadgets by stormchasers Julian & Eileen Gibson
– Make your own OSM tiles by Fraser Kilpatrick
– Build a 3D community via CAD processing by Duncan Bain of MAKLab
– What shouldn’t be possible on maps by Robert Scott
– Mappers Like Me: See your OSM stats & what next by Gregory Marler
– CycleStreets: Journey planning with OSM data by Martin Lucas-Smith
– Sustaining Dunbar by Morag Haddow
– Mapping the Black Isle by Peter Elbourne
Resources from all the presentations are available on the State of the Map Scotland 2013 page on OSM.
Can you help?
There is still a lot to do, join the OSM volunteers on Tuesday, November 19th 2013 at the CCA, 350 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow G2 3JD.