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Online Collaboration Creates 'Map-Making For the Masses' 61

The Science Daily site has up a piece on the effect user-generated content can have on map-making. Scientists are appreciative of the data enthusiastic mappers can provide, updating maps on changes in local geographic information. "Goodchild's paper looks at volunteered geographic information as a special case of the more general Web phenomenon of user-generated content. It covers what motivates large numbers of individuals (often with little formal qualifications) to take part, what technology allows them to do so, how accurate the results are and what volunteered geographic information can add to more conventional sources of such information."
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Online Collaboration Creates 'Map-Making For the Masses'

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  • Why, when seeing this story, did I immediately think of the search for the "Time Masheen?"
  • OpenStreetMap (Score:5, Informative)

    by saibot834 ( 1061528 ) on Monday December 31, 2007 @07:31AM (#21864234)
    In TFA, they are refering to OpenStreetMap [openstreetmap.org], a wiki-style project to create free street maps. (though this is not mentioned in the summary)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by grcumb ( 781340 )

      In TFA, they are refering to OpenStreetMap [openstreetmap.org], a wiki-style project to create free street maps. (though this is not mentioned in the summary)

      I love these guys. I live in Vanuatu, a tiny South Pacific country that so far has escaped the attention of the Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft map interfaces. The only way we're going to get decent maps of our towns is by doing it ourselves. Thanks to a few thoughtful people from Australia and the US, we now have a GPS and are mapping all the streets of Port Vila, the capital.

      Few people have computer experience, but we managed to recruit a young man from a local NGO's youth project, and he's been spending

      • The upshot is that it only took 7 minutes to map out the entire island with one of your crazy taxi drivers :-) I kid! I kid!
        • Unfortunately, the map created by one of their crazy taxi drivers was of New York City. The only taxi drivers still at home are their sane ones.
      • by E.R. ( 116391 )
        Even here in Europe where we do have maps from Google, Microsoft, $you_name_it, an open map does have advantages. First, open data allows you to highlight the map features that are important to you. One of the things that seems to become popular in openstreetmap is generating bicycle maps. Likewise, you can make a map that highlights schools and universities, hiking paths or churches. And you are allowed to publish the maps you make, without getting any written permission or paying royalties.

        The second impo
    • The openstreetmap project hasmade quite a lot of progress, For example, they have mapped the entire Isle of man in much more detail than google etc. They have also been donated data to help with the project.
    • OpenStreetMap can be loaded on the iPhone [brainoff.com] and here's the State of the Map Conference wrap up, the OpenStreetMap conference [slashgeo.org].

      And collaborative mapping is big deal. Google recently launched Google Our Maps [blogspot.com], which is basically Google My Maps but with collaboration capabilities.

      From my previous comment [slashdot.org]: There's NAVTEQ's MapReporter [mapreporter.com] tool to submit updates to NAVTEQ's data by the casual user, [and also] Tele Atlas' Map Insight [slashgeo.org] and TomTom's MapShare [tomtom.com].
      • Regarding the map update links, is there any reason to bother submitting new/updated street data? The only benefit is to Nokia and Tom-tom, both large publicly traded companies. Their proprietary datasets costs tens of thousands of dollars to license and you're saving them money in physical mapping costs while getting nothing in return.

        It's not like the updates benefit a publicly accessible database like Tiger or Openstreetmap.

  • Sounds very similar to claims made about wikipedia.

    If http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/full/438900a.html [slashdot.org] is anything to go by I suspect web 2.0 maps will have just as many (few?) errors as the dead tree counterparts.

  • by emj ( 15659 ) on Monday December 31, 2007 @07:56AM (#21864342) Journal
    They have come a long way:
    Birmingham [openstreetmap.org]
    London [openstreetmap.org]
    Stockholm [openstreetmap.org]
    Falköping [openstreetmap.org]

    There aren't that many people maping (1000?), and you can really make a great differance by just adding all pathways you use for your daily strolls..
    • by Bazman ( 4849 )
      I just went for a bike ride and strapped my GPS to the handlebars and set it tracking. When I got back home I cycled round my block a couple of times to get a good track, knowing that the streets aren't in OSM at the moment. I dumped the track to my PC using EasyGPS and added it to OSM using the Java JOSM client, and hit upload.

      Then I looked at how the rest of my bike ride jived with the existing data. For half my ride I should have been under 20 foot of water in the local river, and for the rest of it it l
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by protolith ( 619345 )
        You ran into the fundamental weakness in most GPS Systems. The x and y are relatively easy to get. the z is always less accurate.

        I used to use a Trimble TDC1 ($12,000 near survey grade GPS) with Realtime differential correction.
        With 20 points collected on a position and post processing, the x and y were good to about 10 cm yet the Z was usually only good to roughly the nearest meter.

        In order to get better results. The GPS antenna needed a large plate attached to act as a shield to block the radio waves f
        • by Bazman ( 4849 )
          Ah maybe I wasn't clear. When I said it put me under the river I didn't mean Z-height, just that it had shifted me far enough off the path I was on to think I was in the middle of a 50-metre wide river...

          Anyhow, if you look at multiple GPS traces on OSM, they look accurate to the metre, whereas my track was all over the place. Is it likely that vehicular GPS units snap their coords to their inbuilt road network? I think OSM are happy that this doesn't constitute a 'derived work' of some copyright maps, but
      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
        Your GPS probably lacks WAAS "is WAAS available in the EU?" And or DGPS.
        Both of those will get you down to around 1-2 Meter resolution.
        • The european equivalent of WAAS appears to be called 'EGNOS'. Yeah, my GPS doesn't have it. I bought it very shortly after the US switched off the SA thing and I whooped when I realised I'd get 10m resolution!

          • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
            Well that is your answer. Now some GPS systems with dedicated base stations are now getting down to like 1cm.But they tend to be very expensive.
      • by emj ( 15659 )
        Yes new GPS units have several advantages, one of the greatest is better algorithms for locking on to sattelites, and are very accurate. ATM what you want is a Sirf III chipset, nothing less.
  • by jrcsnet ( 714232 ) on Monday December 31, 2007 @08:30AM (#21864468)
    This was presented at the Volunteer Geographic Information conference in Dec 2007, see http://www.ncgia.ucsb.edu/projects/vgi/ [ucsb.edu].

    The paper that TFA references can be found at http://www.ncgia.ucsb.edu/projects/vgi/docs/position/Goodchild_VGI2007.pdf [ucsb.edu]

    Another presentation on Openstreetmap from the same conference is at http://www.ncgia.ucsb.edu/projects/vgi/docs/present/Coast_openstreetmap-opendata.pdf [ucsb.edu]
  • I've put together a little bookmarklet that lets you use OSM maps on Google maps and Multimap API implementations (and in fact multimap.com [multimap.com]). In fact I updated it today and have a new blog post about it here [johnmckerrell.com].

    It can be really useful when you find a site that has useful data but you want to see that data overlaid on OSM maps. On Multimap's site you can also see routes and lots of other POIs overlaid on the OSM maps too.

  • I like some of the map making efforts that the Brits [speedcam.co.uk] are engaged in.
  • TomTom's "MapShare" technology lets users correct maps and generate their own content. You can actually correct the problems on the TomTom device when you encounter them, so they're applied to your map immediately, and they're uploaded and shared with other users when you hot-sync your TomTom with your PC. Of course you can also download other user's corrections. You can choose to only use corrections you made yourself, or download corrections verified by TomTom, corrections to POIs you subscribe to, corr
  • Two sites (Score:3, Informative)

    by kbahey ( 102895 ) on Monday December 31, 2007 @01:27PM (#21867342) Homepage
    Two sites that are fine examples of collaborative creation of maps and adding info to maps are:

    http://www.openstreetmap.org/ [openstreetmap.org]
    A from scratch volunteer effort to map the world using GPS, as people visit places.

    http://wikimapia.org/ [wikimapia.org]
    An overlay on Google Maps where people can mark their landmarks and comment on others.

    Really really nice efforts.
  • by Terje Mathisen ( 128806 ) on Monday December 31, 2007 @02:55PM (#21868488)
    The Confluence Project http://confluence.org/ [confluence.org] is an international effort to perform a systematic sampling of the Earth's surface, i.e. all those locations where both longitude and latitude has integer values.

    So far more than 10,000 visitors have documented more than 5,000 of these points.

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2006/2006GL027768.shtml [agu.org] is a link to a paper by a Japanese researcher (Koki Iwao) and his associates: They have used the DCP information to check/verify the quality of the various land cover databases:

    Which parts of the Earth is mountains/lakes/forests/rice fields/grassland/etc.?

    What they found is that the best of these databases have a hit ratio of just 60% or less.

    (Scandinavian DCP coordinator)

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson