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Almost-Satnav For Cycling 119

An anonymous reader writes "A couple of guys (us) in Cambridge have written a cycle routing system, CycleStreets.net, based on open data, and have now released it as a free iPhone app. It's been done on a shoestring, in spare time. There's an API and some disruptive tech in the form of a photo submission screen where street problems can be submitted directly. Because it's open data, you don't have to wait 6 months for the routing to be fixed if there's a bug. Android and .mobi versions are in the works, with the apps being done on GitHub."

The State of Mapping APIs, 5 Years On 100

macslocum writes "Map APIs took off in 2005, and during the ensuing years the whole notion of maps has changed. Where once they were slick add-ons, map functionality is now a necessary — and expected — tool. In this piece, Adam DuVander looks at the current state of mapping and he explains how mobile devices, third-party services and ease of use are shaping the map development world."
GNU is Not Unix

Can an Open Source Map Project Make Money? 304

Roblimo writes "Bing and Mapquest both use output from OpenStreetMap.org. Mapquest supports the project with money for equipment and access to the code they've written to integrate OSM's work with their display. Bing? They just take from the project and do nothing for it in return. This may be okay in a legal sense, but it is a seriously nekulturny way to behave. Even so, having Microsoft's Bing as a reference might help the project's founder make money. They've put a lot of work into this project, and it's doing a lot of people a lot of good, so they certainly deserve some sort of payback, either direct or indirect. They have a few ideas about how they might legitimately earn a few bucks from their project while remaining free software purists. Do you have any ideas, yourself, about how they might turn a few bucks from OSM?"
The Internet

Ushahidi Crowd-Sources Crisis Response 71

We mentioned late last year how open source software called Ushahidi — which means 'testimony' in Swahili — developed for election monitoring in Kenya was being used to similar effect in Afghanistan. Now reader Peace Corps Online adds a report from the NY Times that Ushahidi's is now becoming a hero of the Haitian and Chilean earthquakes. "Ushahidi is used to gather distributed data via SMS, email, or web and visualize it on a map or timeline. The program was developed after violence erupted during Kenya's disputed election in 2007. Ory Okolloh, a prominent Kenyan lawyer and blogger, had gone back to Kenya to vote and observe the election. After receiving threats about her work, she returned to South Africa where she posted her idea of an Internet mapping tool to allow people to report anonymously on violence and other misdeeds. Volunteers built the Ushahidi Web platform over a long weekend, and the site began plotting on a map, using the locations given by informants, user-generated cellphone reports of riots, stranded refugees, rapes, and deaths. When the Haitian earthquake struck, Ushahidi went into action receiving thousands of messages reporting trapped victims; the same happened following the Chile earthquake. The Washington Post also used Ushahidi during the recent blizzards to build a site to map road blockages and the location of available snowplows and blowers. 'Ushahidi suggests a new paradigm in humanitarian work,' writes Anand Giridharadas. 'The old paradigm was one-to-many: foreign journalists and aid workers jet in, report on a calamity, and dispense aid with whatever data they have. The new paradigm is many-to-many-to-many: victims supply on-the-ground data; a self-organizing mob of global volunteers translates text messages and helps to orchestrate relief; then journalists and aid workers use the data to target the response.'"
Open Source

Open Data Needs Open Source Tools 62

macslocum writes "Nat Torkington begins sketching out an open data process that borrows liberally from open source tools: 'Open source discourages laziness (because everyone can see the corners you've cut), it can get bugs fixed or at least identified much faster (many eyes), it promotes collaboration, and it's a great training ground for skills development. I see no reason why open data shouldn't bring the same opportunities to data projects. And a lot of data projects need these things. From talking to government folks and scientists, it's become obvious that serious problems exist in some datasets. Sometimes corners were cut in gathering the data, or there's a poor chain of provenance for the data so it's impossible to figure out what's trustworthy and what's not. Sometimes the dataset is delivered as a tarball, then immediately forks as all the users add their new records to their own copy and don't share the additions. Sometimes the dataset is delivered as a tarball but nobody has provided a way for users to collaborate even if they want to. So lately I've been asking myself: What if we applied the best thinking and practices from open source to open data? What if we ran an open data project like an open source project? What would this look like?'"

OpenStreetMap Sends UK Volunteer Mapper To Antigua 52

Gerv writes "When Google launched their Map Maker community mapping tool last year, they included loads of Caribbean islands. This led Ed Parsons (chief Google Maps guy) to say that he was sad there wasn't any fieldwork involved. Well, now OpenStreetMap have gone one better — following a successful Pledgebank pledge, they have got together the money to send one randomly-chosen guy to Antigua for a week to work on the OpenStreetMap map!"

Submission + - OpenStreetMap buying satellite images to map Gaza (brainoff.com)

LeedsTracker writes: "Recognising that current online maps of Gaza are not great, Mikel Maron is leading a project within OpenStreetMap to put that right. Monies have (mostly) been raised to buy satellite pictures, and OpenStreetMappers have volunteered to trace features from the imagery when it arrives. They're going to need help from people familiar with Gaza's geography who can match names to traced roads, buildings, towns etc. Obviously, people actually in Gaza have higher priorities at present, but ex-pats and aid workers (for example) could be helpful here."

Open US GPS Data? 327

tobiasly writes "I read an article today about a map error on the popular Garmin GPS devices which often leads to truckers in a particular town becoming trapped. From my own experience, every electronic map I've ever seen (Google, Mapquest, my Mio GPS) has the layout of my neighborhood completely and frustratingly wrong. A quick search turned up only one open-source mapping project, but it's for New Zealand only. Why are there no comparable projects in the U.S. or elsewhere? Obviously such a project would need a good peer-review/moderation/trust system but I'd gladly put in the time necessary to drive around town with my GPS in "tracking" mode, then upload, tag, and verify my local data. Has anyone with more technical knowledge in maps and auto-routing looked more into this? Are there technical limitations to such a project? Should the government subsidize a project to create open, free, up-to-date electronic maps? Surely there is a public benefit available from such a project."
The Internet

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."

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten