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Why the World Needs OpenStreetMap 162

An anonymous reader writes "Over the past six months, we've all grown a bit more skeptical about who controls our data, and what they do with it. An article at The Guardian says it's time for people to start migrating en masse away from proprietary map providers to OpenStreetMap in order to both protect our collective location data and decide how it is displayed. From the article: 'Who decides what gets displayed on a Google Map? The answer is, of course, that Google does. I heard this concern in a meeting with a local government in 2009: they were concerned about using Google Maps on their website because Google makes choices about which businesses to display. The people in the meeting were right to be concerned about this issue, as a government needs to remain impartial; by outsourcing their maps, they would hand the control over to a third party. ... The second concern is about location. Who defines where a neighborhood is, or whether or not you should go? This issue was brought up by the American Civil Liberties Union when a map provider was providing routing (driving/biking/walking instructions) and used what it determined to be "safe" or "dangerous" neighborhoods as part of its algorithm.'"
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Why the World Needs OpenStreetMap

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @09:06PM (#45960191)

    The level of detail is just fantastic, and I can carry the entire map on an sd card for offline use, including routing. It's plain awesome.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @09:44PM (#45960495)

    Sure, that would be really nice. But as we all know it's totally racist to admit that black people commit crimes. So we can't do that.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @09:45PM (#45960509)

    The level of detail is just fantastic, and I can carry the entire map on an sd card for offline use, including routing. It's plain awesome.

    Detail? Not so much.
    Side by side comparison: Zoomed to my town. Entered search term: Starbucks

    Google Maps: Showed every starbucks in my town
    OpenStreetMaps: Showed nothing in my town, but listed some in Japan, an ocean away.

    Zoomed to Seattle. Repeated same test.
    Same results. Openstreetmaps can't find a Starbucks in Seattle.

    Keyed in a random address: 521 N 1st st, new york, NY
    Google: Bam, direct hit.
    Openstreetmaps: Nothing. Not a single thing.

    This is probably where 50 people jump on me and suggest I should fix the maps and contribute.
    Yeah, that will work.

  • The race is on (Score:5, Informative)

    by ras ( 84108 ) <russell-slashdotNO@SPAMstuart.id.au> on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:05PM (#45960629) Homepage

    If Google isn't careful, they will loose this race. Right now it is a bit of a toss up. It wasn't always so. A few years ago OSM was just toy, and the Android Google Maps app did a reasonable job of offline maps and searching the local area. My how things have changed.

    On the one hand Google has been busily removing features from it's Maps app. I think they were trying to make it easier to use. Whether they achieved that is debatable, but what they done is make it less useful. You can't measure distances now, the search for local places of interest is all but useless, there is no way to find out what maps are available for offline use.

    OsmAnd+ on the other hand has acquired one big missing feature - directions, navigation and voice. Amazingly its point of interest search works much better than Google, possibly because the locals enter the point of interest data. And it always had a number of features Google Maps doesn't:

    • Measure distances.
    • Add way points for navigation.
    • Directed Address Entry.
    • Display custom underlay / overlay maps.
    • Record / display GPS tracks.
    • Totally offline operation.
    • If something is wrong or missing, you can add it.

    Normally I would not bet against Google. But collecting traffic and public transport out of the realms of possibility for Osm. If that happens, I can't think why anybody would choose to use Google Maps over OSM.

  • by websitebroke ( 996163 ) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:10PM (#45961061)
    Try Starbucks Seattle [openstreetmap.org]. Turns out there are a bunch of them. Yeah, not even close to as nice as defaulting to finding things right nearby your location, but not completely useless, either.

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