Interesting Facts and Stats about OpenStreetMap
OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a collaborative project aiming to create a free, editable world map. The project was founded in 2004 by Steve Coast and has grown to become one of the world's most prominent and widely-used open-source mapping projects. The data in OSM is collected by a global community of volunteer mappers who use GPS devices, aerial imagery, and other sources to contribute information about roads, buildings, landmarks, and other features to the map. The resulting map is free to use, distribute, and modify under an open license and can be accessed through a variety of web and mobile applications.
OSM is often compared to other mapping services, such as Google Maps and Bing Maps, but several key differences set it apart. One of the most important is that the data in OSM is entirely user-generated, which means it is constantly being updated and improved by the community. This makes OSM an ideal choice for applications that require up-to-date and detailed local knowledge, such as navigation and location-based services. Additionally, the open nature of OSM means that anyone can use the data in any way they want without having to pay licensing fees or ask for permission.
The OpenStreetMap Foundation supports the OSM project. This not-for-profit organization provides infrastructure, legal support, and other resources to help the community maintain and improve the map. The foundation also works to promote the use of OSM data and to encourage the development of new and innovative applications that take advantage of the map.
Quick OpenStreetMap facts
- As of 2021, the OSM database contains over 6 billion nodes (points on the map) representing features such as buildings, roads, and landmarks.
- OSM has more than 5 million registered users, who have contributed over 4 billion changes to the map.
- The OSM community is truly global, with contributors from nearly every country in the world.
- OSM is used by a wide range of organizations, including governments, humanitarian groups, and businesses. Some examples include the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Red Cross.
- OSM data has been used in a variety of innovative ways, such as creating maps for use in disaster response, tracking the spread of diseases, and building self-driving cars.
- OSM data is used to power many popular applications, such as OpenRouteService, OsmAnd, and Maps.me.
- The OSM project is supported by a large number of individual and corporate sponsors, including companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple.
- The OSM project has been recognized with several awards and honors, including the Free Software Foundation's Free Software Award, the Linux New Media Award, and the Access to Learning Award.
These are just a few examples of the many interesting facts and statistics about OpenStreetMap. The project is constantly growing and evolving, so these figures will likely change over time.
How does OpenStreetMap work (facts)?
Before we dive into the fun facts and figures about OpenStreetMap, let's look at how it works and some statistics about its usage.
- OpenStreetMap is a community-driven project, which means that the data is contributed to and maintained by a large group of volunteers from around the world.
- The data in OSM is collected through various methods, including GPS devices, aerial imagery, and manually entered information.
- The data is stored in a database that can be accessed and edited through a web-based editor, such as iD, JOSM, and Potlatch.
- The data is available under an open license, meaning it can be used, modified, and distributed freely by anyone.
- The OSM community reviews and validates changes made by other users, fix errors and inconsistencies and contributes their local knowledge.
- OSM's data is constantly updated and improved, making it an ideal choice for applications requiring up-to-date and detailed local knowledge.
- OSM data is used by a wide range of organizations, including governments, humanitarian groups, and businesses.
- The OpenStreetMap Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, provides infrastructure, legal support, and other resources to help the community maintain and improve the map.
How does OpenStreetMap work?
OpenStreetMap (OSM) works by allowing users to contribute geographic data to a map of the world that is stored in a database. The data is collected using a variety of methods, including GPS devices and aerial imagery, and manually entered the information.
Users can access the OSM database through a web-based editor called iD, JOSM, or Potlatch and can add, edit, and delete data on the map. For example, a user can add a new road by tracing its path on an aerial image and then adding details such as the road name and type. Users can also add points of interest, such as buildings, parks, and landmarks, and additional information, such as the name and address of the feature.
Once the data is added to the OSM database, it is available to anyone under an open license, which means that it can be used, modified, and distributed freely. The data can be accessed through a variety of web and mobile applications, such as the main OpenStreetMap website or via APIs.
OpenStreetMap is supported by a large community of volunteers who help to maintain and improve the map. They review and validate changes made by other users, fix errors and inconsistencies, and contribute their local knowledge. Additionally, the OpenStreetMap Foundation provides infrastructure, legal support, and other resources to help the community maintain and improve the map.
Overall, OpenStreetMap is a collaborative and constantly evolving project that relies on the contributions and engagement of its community to make a detailed, up-to-date, and accurate map of the world.
Downsides of OpenStreetMap
While OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a powerful and valuable resource, it does have some downsides that should be considered. One of the main downsides of OSM is that because it is based on user-generated content, the quality and completeness of the data can vary greatly depending on the location and the level of involvement of the local community. The map may be highly detailed and accurate in some areas, while it may need to be completed or updated in others. This can make it difficult for some users to rely on OSM for critical applications, such as navigation or emergency response.
Another downside of OSM is that it is an open-source project and is backed by different resources and infrastructure than commercial mapping services such as Google Maps or Bing Maps. This means that OSM may have a different uptime, scalability, or customer support level than these services. Additionally, OSM has a different level of coverage than commercial mapping services, which could be a problem in less developed or remote areas.
Another downside of OSM is that because it is based on volunteer contributions, it may not have the same level of consistency as commercial mapping services. Some features may be mapped differently by different users, which can lead to consistency in the data. Additionally, because the data is constantly being updated, it can be challenging to know exactly when a particular piece of information was last verified or updated.
Finally, while OSM is freely available to anyone, it is free of cost. It requires servers, storage, and internet bandwidth, and costs are involved in maintaining, updating, and running the website. The OpenStreetMap Foundation and other organizations rely on donations from individuals, businesses, and organizations to cover these costs.
In summary, OpenStreetMap is a valuable resource that can be used for a wide range of applications, but it does have some downsides that should be considered. The data quality and completeness may vary, it may have a different level of coverage or consistency than commercial mapping services, and costs are involved in maintaining, updating, and running the website.