If you're not the leader in the field, and won't be able to catch up just by investing, you try to make the leadership in the field (Google's) irrelevant.
If the 2nd-best-by-small-margin base map info is open, having the best one isn't a competitive advantage anymore.
I've been trying to get Google to fix an incorrect path drawn at a state park that I frequent. I've submitted an alternative route twice now, but it's been denied twice with little explanation. The path is a loop, but Google has it missing half of the loop, off by an eighth of a mile or so, and has it drawn where it cuts through private property. In contrast, OSM's data is completely spot on with what my GPS shows.
The park is in a tourist area, and I go to this park often enough that I've actually ran into multiple people visiting who have been standing on the trail with Google Maps open on their phone, thinking they've made a wrong turn.
I've experienced the same thing at GNP in Montana, BWCA in Minnesota/Canada, and all along the Richardson Highway in Alaska. If you're in a rural area or on public land, OSM data is the best available --- even better than what a ranger station would sell you.
It's always interesting to see where my OSM data pops up, as I mapped a number of obscure cliff lines in in accessible bush, which are quite a distinctive feature. For example, participating in rogaining or orienteering events and realising that I drew the base map 4 years before!
While contributing you almost feel like playing a game :)
I'm sure that, for whatever product in the world, you can find a subset of people in the world who will swear that such product is, in they experience, the best in the world.
Which is a subjective factor. "X is objectively better for the categories that I subjectively selected".
Mapping is a subjective topic, simply because there are endless ways to evaluate and compare maps, so attributing any type of weight to any factor is a subjective exercise based on your own personal preferences.
But if you have two maps and they both have a shared subset of layers, you can (for that subset) objectively evaluate which map more accurately represents the real world, eg: has more objects than the other map, and/or has objects marked more accurately.
And what I'm saying is that for the layers that they have in common, I think OSM wins hands down.
Where I went to college, near Rochester NY, housing data is nearly non-existent in OSM, while Google Maps happily provides it and 3D models of them too. Where I am in Seattle, OSM has parking information while Google Maps does not.
Google is basically the de facto map, even as far as many governments are concerned, and so showing localized maps of disputed areas may actually be saving lives.
The tiles served from osm.org don't.
For example, the Indian OSM community have an OSM map, which shows the borders of India as per Indian law (w.r.t. Kashmir)
https://openstreetmap.in/#5/22.150/79.081 vs https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=5/22.167/79.102
I'm sure that's true. Google Maps seems to be better or at least more consistent (and better at routing with real-time information obviously) for the things that Google cares about. Which doesn't include rural areas, hiking trails, etc.
(It's okay though, I'm happy to work toward changing that.)
Plus finding good OSM apps is hard.
I think OSM is a great data source and I always try to contribute at least the business opening hours but it deserves a better application layer on top of it.
Contains ads, in app purchases
If I enter my street address into Google Maps, it shows my house. If I enter it into OSM it says "No results found" and can't even figure out what country or city I am in.
Which country are you in?
Addresses here are written like "220/9 xo viet nghe tinh", which means "go to 220 on Xo Viet Nghe Tinh and turn into the alley there, go to #9 in the alley".
Typing "220/9 xo viet nghe tinh" into OSM results in "No results found". Instead I have to write "hem 220/9 xo viet nghe tinh" for it to find the road; no one writes it that way.
A house address would be "220/9/14 xo viet nghe tinh" meaning "go to 220 on Xo Viet Nghe Tinh and turn into the alley there; go to #9 and turn into the next alley you find there; then go to house #14".
The only way OSM can figure things out is if I write it like "14 hem 220/9 xo viet nghe tinh"
How does https://photon.komoot.de/ do?
openstreetmap.org uses Nominatim:
The photon link uses Photon:
Nominatim processes OSM data, associating items of interest with features like town boundaries that enclose the item, or place markers that are nearby, and then is also a fairly pedantic search interface for that data.
Photon takes the data that Nominatim generates and sticks a more flexible search on top of it.
Checking for/creating an issue for Nominatim describing the address format that doesn't work well would be a useful thing to do, as global support is a goal there.
In a similar situation with Google Maps, you wouldn't even have been given the opportunity.
This kind of patronizing attitude is unnecessary and silly. The vast majority of users of any software product are only interested in being just that: users. And that's totally okay. No need for passive-aggressive shaming.
They said that they checked and it is ok. I asked them how they did this because, well, I actually see the place twice a day. They said that they have ways to check (or smthg like that).
I then sent M their own stree view link and screenshot. Not good enough. So I have up, I do not need the gps to bike there twice a day.
Two years later, suddenly it was approved.
All my corrections are now approved automatically (within an hour or so) so they may have improved.
I also told them to check on OSM where I also updated some information about the surroundings :)
But people mostly don't want three or four different mapping apps to cover their use cases. Having it in one app is a better user experience.
I tried to click/double-click the text "Kölner Dom" (which is how it works on GMaps) on https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=19/50.94132/6.95838 but it doesn't show anything.
By using the 'query features' tool on the right (the pointer with the question mark), and then picking the object you want from the list of objects in that area.
Other viewers of OSM data (like smartphone apps) can have different (sometimes easier) means of accessing that data. OSM is a database intended for use with many clients; https://www.openstreetmap.org is just one.
CityMapper uses OpenStreetMap data for the cycle and walking route planning (even though the GUI is Google Maps). Best cycling directions you can get, full stop. The algorithm is by CycleStreets, a UK academic start-up out of a university.
Maps.me is more user friendly than OsmAnd and feels more like Google Maps, but needs internet and just feels a bit strange to me. Ad supported but you can turn the ads off in the settings.
This is far more cost-intensive, both in upfront as in maintenance, than the translation problem.
Software is easy. The real world is hard.
The real-world constraint of translation software is building a sizeable quality corpus of real-world text with real-world living human translators. We're lucky that the EU employs literally thousands of translators to publish identical texts across languages (for free!!), which has helped make European languages pretty much a solved problem in machine translation. But anything non-european is still hopelessly incomprehensible, simply because we don't have enough real-world data.
For example compare the two following areas :
Google Maps is lacking some details inside the park, you don't have any path, fence, grass, water tap, bench or bin.
The issue for OSM is that some less popular areas are totally barren.
The only major disadvantage of OSM-derived applications is the lack of real-time traffic information. Google Maps harvests data from phones inside cars and some car navigation systems. They also buy it from third parties.
http://opentraffic.io/ is trying to do some data harvesting, but it's still not very good. Another option would be to build an aggregator. Lots of governments publish real-time traffic data, so it should be a matter of integrating that into an OSM layer.
Lastly, there's this old technology called Traffic Message Channel which uses RDS (digital data on FM radio) to broadcast traffic warnings. It's quite popular in Western Europe. There's already a F-Droid application that is trying to provide an interface for that: https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com.vonglasow.michael.qz/
I cannot stress how important live traffic information is. Without live traffic, navigating on densely populated areas is a nightmare. It's the only part of my mobile workflow I can't do using F-Droid applications. I'm currently forced to use a web version of Google Maps.
Aspects of the model like noise reduction, modality classification, and speed distribution estimation also require lots of fine tuning that is specific to the telemetry being ingested & the usage patterns of the output. For example, our speed models learn and correct from observed errors in various situations over time, which is coupled to our internal metrics data.
Cambridge is incredibly atypical, though, given its large number of smart people without much money.
There will always be room for individual contributions, because there are things that the big corporations do not care about. For example, many hiking trails and agricultural tracks good for cycling are missing from Google Maps because they simply do not have a business case for those details. Yet they are on OpenStreetMap because when OSM editors actually walk or cycle those ways, they add them to OSM.
Another example is opening hours for shops. There are only three ways those can end up on the map: 1) the business itself adds them, 2) a large corporation is aware of them and adds them, or 3) an individual mapper copies them off the sign at the shop’s entrance. For a lot of small shops, only 3 is realistically going to happen.
At least I've had rather good experiences using Maps for biking. Even small, unofficial paths were mapped, and travel times indicated that Maps had an accurate idea of their condition.
> At least I've had rather good experiences using Maps for biking.
You wouldn’t in many countries around the world. Google Maps is considerably inferior to OpenStreetMap for cycling in much of the Western Balkans, Africa, and Patagonia.
Specifically, never to assume that "It's like ten meters between these two points... I don't see a reason why we would need to go all the way around".
(There was a 30m deep gorge)
More to the point: Given enough position data, Google should be able to assess all those road parameters you mention, far better than manual entry could ever do at scale. They could easily notice, as but one example, when locals routinely take different routes than they would suggest and modify their data accordingly.
which may well have been explicitly marked, tagged with depth information, in OSM.
They're both significantly worse than maps focused on hikers.
There's an app called OpenVegeMap which shows you vegetarian and vegan restaurants nearby. It also allows you to add and edit this information. Found a nice vegan bistro? You're just two clicks away from adding a missing tag about it to OSM. Just this and nothing else.
But be careful that you don't lead your editors to think this isn't a global database that others use, or other OSMers will be annoyed.,
Unfortunately, the dominance of Google Maps makes 1) more likely to happen for them - more likely even than 3) is going to happen for OSM. Or at least, that's what my gut feeling says.
In my own neck of the woods, if you are cycling around the countryside, you can not only find a nearby convenience store to stop for a drink or snack, you can even know if it is presently open. Meanwhile, Google Maps has almost none of the small shops in this region, let alone their opening hours.
I'm also not quite sure how often large chains are importing their opening hours into OSM? Because quite a few of them probably do so for Google Maps (or at least - Google Maps often has their opening hours).
Very rarely, to almost not at all. Most OSM imports are still either roads, address points or buildings. PoI imports are very rare (to be almost non-existant)
We’ve written a small app that does route calculations for us to make reporting business related driving (you get a refund, but that has to be taxed in specific ways) an automated process. We use OSM in that, but we do pay a company to do the routing algorithm and supply the data in a way that doesn’t abuse the standard OSM api. I’m not sure exactly how they do that, I think they host part of OSM or something like that. There is a big industry for small companies which are specialized in those things in Europe, and they are typically cheaper and easier to use than google.
We also rely heavily on OSM in our GIS department, where we have our own private maps, though they aren’t so much for traffic we have been building our own “street-view” thing, using OSM and our own 360 images.
The disadvantage of OSM is actually the submission process, like if a street is wrong, and you supply the correct information, it’s not always accepted right away. Which is a huge issue if you rely on it for something serious. That hasn’t been an issue for us for two years though, but we did have one week where an elected official couldn’t submit his driving because of a wrong one-way street.
I'm a long time OSMer, and I'm a little confused by this, because OSM is a wiki. There are no data controls. When a user makes a contribution, it's saved into the global OSM database straight away.
Can you explain more about what you've experienced?
In what way does this happen? I haven't experienced it yet and I get the impression my edits are accepted automatically. Is someone reverting your changes with no good justification?
An account vetting system would solve this. Being an official municipality it’s kind of silly that we can change the actual direction of a street, but not use our internal maps as evidence for it. ;)
Most local mappers will gladly work with you in resolving such issues. Try the country-specific subforum on https://forum.openstreetmap.org/ if you get stuck.
There is some opposition within the OSM community from getting big tech corps to do all the work.
Also, Apple gave a talk at SotM about "working with the community" and demanded that that talk not be recorded (unlike all other talks thre) or shared with anyone else. Hardly in keeping with the spirit of "openness".
Facebook's computer vision imports are of dubious use.
When I started working on OSM about a decade ago my area was a greenish blur on the photo underlay and everything had to be manually positioned from GPX tracks. It took hours to map a street and given GPS error margins it was never certain to be exact.
Now anyone can log-in and start tracing roads / paths / buildings and it just takes a couple of physical visits to backfill the enumeration and names.
It also comes with some nice extra features added, but ymmv on the stability of those features
Great for maps in offline environments and/or querying without API limits!
Really think OSM is great.
Do you have a link to some commentary on this?
I'm aware of MS's generated US building footprints but this hasn't (yet) been integrated into OSM (largely I think due to quality and bulk-import etiquette worries). And also StreetSide but this isn't imported into OSM itself, rather it's displayed as an aid for editors.
Facebook is looking at contributions similar to MS's US building footprints (but for roads), but again this is mainly around tooling and generation rather than data sources, and is speculative as far as I've seen.
I started working on this project because I believe that map data should be open as did everyone else on the team. There was (and still is to some extent) a lot of skepticism about whether large corporations have the best interest of the map at heart - and what tools need to be put in place to make sure the quality stays high. It's pretty clear to me that there can be an alignment in goals because whether it's a company, person, or nonprofit everyone prefers accurate map data. The questions are about margins of error & OSM rightfully leans toward only extremely high confidence.
One good thing about Facebook joining in on updating the open map is resources are not much of an issue. Our team was able to just call up and purchase the rights to the satellite images we needed instantly. For quite some time we had working models that generated edits for roads that were missing from the map. Leading up to the yearly conference there was a question of whether we should present all of our findings to the community and see what they thought before making any edits.
No one on the team was willing to push the button on submitting any of our edits because we weren't sure if they were good enough and it would feel shitty to be the one who broke the relationship between Facebook & OSM. Beyond the software engineers even the people who were paid hourly to train the models became invested in believing it was important that Facebook reach a way to channel its massive resources into the project.
Eventually we all gathered up and I just pushed the button to contribute a random 1km / 1km square in Egypt (we'd already computed edits across the country accounting for over 100% increase but things could always get better). Then we waited. No one ever reached out so we started contributing a little more at a steady rate to see if anyone else working in the country noticed (including improving the original 1km / 1km box as the models improved).
We were testing the ML in some of the harshest conditions we could find (low contrast in the desert) so the research team started working on another model for India (winding dirt roads, lots of rivers, tree cover). All of our edits went through street-by-street human approval which was working but slow going since the number of people on the project could fit in a Facebook friend recommendation unit. After not receiving much contact in Egypt (the map community there is small) we received initial positive feedback from local mappers in India and decided to ramp up the speed of contributing which meant getting a war room in Menlo Park and rounding up a larger group of people to review the machine suggested roads.
I ended up gathering a few too many people and myself along with the core team was too hasty in communicating the quality bar for submission. We planned to shadow edits as the week went on to make sure the new members were up to speed but things unfolded much more quickly. Within a few hours we accidentally submitted a few bad roads. A local mapper noticed as he'd just driven the area on his motorcycle the day before. I immediately left a meeting where we were negotiating buying more satellite imagery and jumped on a bike back to the war room. No harm done, we had scripts ready to undo edits.
When I got into the war room things were more problematic. Quite a few of the new folks had made similar mistakes so we paused everything. There was now a small group of local mappers in an IRC channel worried about large scale vandalism (though they quickly realized that wasn't the case). They noticed the breadth of the edits and tracked down the accounts of most everyone in the room. The map community in India is one of the better communities but still a room of this many people making edits at a such a scale was unlike anything you'd normally expect since the ML made editing 10-100x faster than hand tracing imagery.
During the time when the local mappers believed this might be intentional vandalism they escalated to the global community. So that's how a large chunk of the OSM leadership found out Facebook was doing work on the map - some of our worst edits. Shit! It ended up not being so bad however. The entirety of the bad edits were reverted in a few minutes with oversight from the head of the OSM data working group. IMO the situation accidentally showed some of the OSM corporate contribution skeptics that even the worst case wasn't so bad & Facebook was definitely wanting the community in control of any crises.
It wasn't all thought through but it's quite interesting in retrospect how the engagement strategy panned out.
The impact from the massive Facebook edit was more important, I think, and people are still very skeptical about whether massive ML mapping like this can provide value to OSM today. Announcing and discussing the edits first would have been better PR. Recovering goodwill will take a lot of time and effort.
Our guidelines prohibit undiscussed edits like these, and not only the ones that cause trouble. It is not respectful to the unpaid volunteers that cleaned up after this that LukeWalsh seems to think it was "not […] so bad".
All great reasons this data is not present, but that does limit OSM usage in a wide group of cases.
The data that is present, however, is wonderful.
I would recommend using Street Complete, that has a really easy interface to add that kind of information to osm.
It is in beta but still very useful, and does not feel like a beta (really stable)
Apple has an internal volunteer programmer whereby employees can choose to spend their time contributing to OSM—part of employee benefits (which is nice), whereas Microsoft and Facebook are actually contributing mapping data the company has created/collected to OSM.
Furthermore, just 2 of the 3 listed companies are major sponsors of OSM events: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/State_of_the_Map_2018#Sp...
Even google employees have contributed to the project by running internal mapathons in conjunction with organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières...
Will be running some events in my current company in the coming weeks which will be fun!
Don't assume that because a company isn't listed, it doesn't/hasn't contributed.
That is the list of all sponsors for that particular event. Apple did speak at the event, though their talk was the only one not recorded, photos were forbidden, and they uploaded no slides afterward. The topic was their employees' volunteerism.
> The building information was developed with sensors from low altitude aerial imagery.
> The building footprint and height information was captured and developed in 2013.
There's also Atlas, not mentioned in the article, which seems to be a (open-source/non-free??) tool released by Apple for use specifically with OSM data. Really interesting stuff.
Maybe http://opentraffic.io/ ?
OSMAnd and Maps.Me both have poi search and voice navigation.
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Map viewing is wonderful, the best I have experienced on Android. It's very fast and super detailed.
Routing has some issues. The estimates are way off, routing by bike means road bike (not MTB) and the voiceover speaks too early or too late.
osmAnd has a ton of features. maps is more basic but is better for navigation since it has a 3d option
There's tonnes of candidates out there that just lack something small, or are slightly less ideal than someone else... yet still have all the raw talent and potential in the world.
But you can't always hire them because you don't have the resources to up-skill them efficiently. Or you need someone that can more readily contribute to a project.
I've certainly got some people in mind whom I'd love to contact as soon as I start at a different employer, to drag them on board if said employer had the resources to properly develop them.