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Open Source Earth Google Software The Almighty Buck

The Future of Free and Open-Source Maps (emacsen.net) 56

Grady Martin writes: Former OpenStreetMap contributor and Google Summer of Code mentor Serge Wroclawski has outlined why OpenStreetMap is in serious trouble, citing unclear usage policies, poor geocoding (address-to-coordinate conversion), and a lack of a review model as reasons for the project's decline in quality. Perhaps more interesting, however, are the problems purported to stem from OpenStreetMap's power structure. Wroclawski writes: "In the case of OpenStreetMap, there is a formal entity which owns the data, called the OpenStreetMap Foundation. But at the same time, the ultimate choices for the website, the geographic database and the infrastructure are not under the direct control of the Foundation, but instead rest largely on one individual, who (while personally friendly) ranges from skeptical to openly hostile to change."
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The Future of Free and Open-Source Maps

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  • They could have a chat with the what3words folks...
    https://map.what3words.com/kicks.pasta.steer [what3words.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is how a significant chunk of the OSM community reacts to wat 3 words:

      http://www.what3fucks.com/

      • Which honestly makes about as much sense. "Hey, let's make a proprietary database for location, with no relation to anything around it." Never mind latitude and longitude is pretty universal. What3Words is to georeferencing as all-way stops are to intersection design. And the all-way stop is an intersection designed by morons for morons.
    • Oops, there already is a OSM button on the What3words map... My Bad.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You're kidding, right? what three words is just a coordinate system where three words are mathematically mapped to a rectangle in lat/long coordinates. There's no data, no roads, no lines, no nothing, just a formless sphereoid.

      The map data you see on that site is just Google maps.

  • by messymerry ( 2172422 ) on Friday February 16, 2018 @09:51PM (#56139518)
    This is sorta peripheral, butt I have been having fits with my Garmin updates. The maps are definitely not up to date. the last trip I took, the speed limits were wrong more than they were right. With the insulting requirement to buy the same map over and over for the devices I own, and their arrogance, I am considering ditching all my Garmin devices. My better and I spent three months in Chile and we tried using OpenStreet maps. They were unusable. We bought the Garmin S. America set and it was marginal at best. We used Google maps and Waze when we had cell service and the Google maps are much much better. And free... as long as you have cellular service. Question: How is it that Google maps are head and shoulders better than Garmin maps and Garmin charges out the wazoo???
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Google maps are much much better. And free... as long as you have cellular service."

      Google Maps are downloadable for offline use and have been for awhile now. It's a life saver when I'm out of cell range or out of country.

      • Re:Gamin maps... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 16, 2018 @10:35PM (#56139696)

        "Google maps are much much better. And free... as long as you have cellular service."

        Google Maps are downloadable for offline use and have been for awhile now. It's a life saver when I'm out of cell range or out of country.

        But there are significant limitations on what is downloadable compared to OSM, where you can just download the entire country and run it completely offline.

        My solution on trips is to have both.

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          But there are significant limitations on what is downloadable compared to OSM

          A big one is the inability to find an address. I had tried to use Google Maps, and had downlaoded my local area and it was up to date. But it refused to search for an address - it gave me suggestions of a few addresses, but not the one I was looking for.

          The inability to find addresses offline (If it could navigate, bonux, but let's just stick with something so basic...) makes it useless. It's good for a "You are here" pointer, but

      • Thanks, wish I had some mod points. I will look into this and see if they can be used in my Garmins.
    • We used Google maps and Waze when we had cell service and the Google maps are much much better. And free... as long as you have cellular service.

      Welcome to the 21st century!

      We're just surprised it took you this long.

      The only people still using old maps are drivers with big trucks and double-decker buses that don't want to get stuck under a bridge, but even that's becoming a problem since they're taking too long to update them after constructions.

      Question: How is it that Google maps are head and shoulders better than Garmin maps and Garmin charges out the wazoo???

      Have you noticed? A similar tension exists between traditional encyclopedias and Wikipedia.

      On one hand, you have business owners who believe in crowdsourcing and who believe the risks crowdsourcing brings ca

    • Google Maps is able to provide constant map updates because they're constantly harvesting data from you, which they then sell to marketers to make money. Standalone GPSes like Garmin's don't send data about you back to the mothership, so they can only make money from product sales. A map update more or less negates a new product sale, so they have to make up that lost revenue somehow. So you either have to pay for map updates, or pay extra to get a unit with lifetime map updates.

      Remember: If you're ge
      • Google doesn't sell user data. It sells ads instead. User data is its asset.

        It's only going to rent the use of its asset, not sell it outright.

        • The difference between selling user data and selling microtargeted ads based on user data, while existing, is not really relevant here.
          • Sure it is. Google Maps is less a map and more a georeferenced Yellow Pages. That's the extent they care about their map. The fact that it can kinda-sorta be used for navigation, shittily, is purely incidental.
      • Telenav, which uses OSM, does try to get data back. And they abstract that data and OSM's uploaded GPS traces to feed the ImproveOSM JOSM plugin [openstreetmap.org] data.
    • Garmin must have fired or lost some of their key technical employees, and/or decided to let marketing run things, because they have gone straight into the toilet. My first GPS, which I still own, is a Garmin GPS 12. This was one of the early 12-satellite GPSes and it has a serial port connector, which is why I bought it in the first place. It is great in every way for what it is; durable, usable (the UI was good for its day) and above all reliable.

      I also own a Garmin Nuvi 1450LMT. It is a total POS. Touch r

  • They can't take the fork in the road?

  • ? Seems to go against the whole 'open' thing, or perhaps what we really need is FreeAndOpenStreetMaps

  • Open isn't as open doesn't.

    But really. What's to stop someone from forking the whole shebang and then running the fork properly? The nuclear option.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Tooling is. It shouldn't take 2 weeks to import the DB. A 65GB DB shouldn't turn into a 2TB one once restored. Serving tiles shouldn't require a convoluted stack of 20 apps which ultimately take up gigs of RAM and 20% cpu just to sit idle.

    Just for starters...

  • Reading his rant I could identify with many of the problems. But the solution lies with the foundation itself and the board of directors. The board of directors needs to be ran by the president in a professional, transparent, ethical manner, that follows its rules especially as it might relate to conflicts of interest. I suggest finding a way to invoke parliamentary procedure to the board even if they need to hire a professional parliamentarian for meetings. Rewrite the bylaws as necessary to correct the de

    • Well, I guess I agree, especially about the financial conflicts of interest, but the technical issues sound pretty daunting as well. Their database doesn't have a concept of layers - only tags? Node ID's can be reused or repurposed? Non-standardized/enforced/validated data entry schemes?

      I admit I know nothing about mapping software and databases, but these types of features seem pretty inherently obvious to any sort of developer, simply based on how we've seen other map systems work.

  • The quality of the data is very much dependent on volunteers. In the Netherlands, the data is actually pretty good and detailed.

    Certain details are in the map that HERE/TeleAtlas/Google/Waze don't have, like pedestrian tunnels, paths in woods, animal-crossings, etc. There are many people keeping things up-to-date.

    But, if you're somewhere in a third world country, outside of a city, chances are higher that your road is missing or incorrect.

  • Geocoding requires two things:

    1. Accurate and complete data. It is well acknowledged that in many areas, full street addresses are not yet there in Openstreetmap, but you can geocode at street-level. I've had many cases where Google's geolocation for addresses is way out, and doesn't even give a warning that it's only managed a partial match on the geographic centre of the district.
    2. Context. Depending on your application, you may only be interested in the 'Station Road' nearest you. How's the geocoding se

  • some issues as any map. Still it is the good map.

    I use mostly the OpenStreetMap, Maps.ME on smartphone, where I can download the whole country, and I also use Google map.

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