beingopen - openstreetmap

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Author: harry-wood

Post on 16-Apr-2017




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Harry Wood

Not for profit

For the benefit of the entrepreneurs in the room, let me kick off by pointing out that OpenStreetMap doesn't have a business model. It doesn't make profit. It doesn't need to.

There's a small registered organisation which is not-for-profit but essentially OpenStreetMap is a loose-knit community of thousands of volunteers collaborating to build maps.


> 350,000 registered users

How many volunteers?

we're approaching 350,000 registered users

Building a map from scratch

On the ground surveys

Lot of work (needs lots of people)


And we need a lot of users because we're doing this crazy thing... Building a map from scratch.

wikipedia of maps

You may have heard openstreetmap described as the wikipedia of maps.

Openly Editable

It has an edit tab like wikipedia.

When you click the edit tab, you see a vector based editing environment. It's a little complex but we try to make it simplified stripped down GIS system which anyone can understand.

...results in a map on

...and many other sites


Open Licensed

XML API. Download a bbox

Download the whole planet! (14GB)

Openstreetmap's mission is to release map data for free.

This means free as in zero costAnd free as in freedomaccess to the raw data, with an open license, means developers have the freedom and flexibility to use map data in new and exciting ways.

Map data is generally owned by somebody, and raw map data is normally expensive.

Mostly we need to build a new map from scratch without copying anybody elses.


OSM and Ordnance Survey



Low quality

High quality



This is an old slide explaining what's basically going on with OpenStreetMap in relation to Ordnance Survey.

As OSM quality improves, at zero cost, it exerts a downward pressure on the price of traditionally licensed datasets

OSM and Ordnance Survey



Low quality

High quality

OS MasterMap


OS StreetView

OS Landranger

The situations a bit more complicated than that of course

This year Ordnance Survey released some of their datasets for free. StreetView is perhaps the most useful. Whether OSM is better or worse than Streetview is debateable, but when you consider that StreetView is a raster map, OSM is potentially much more useful (all depends on your use case)

They definitely have NOT released all their dataset for free. The popular landranger, still charged for. MasterMap is the super-detail dataset which you still pay through the nose for as part of the planning process. OSM isn't really trying to reach the level of detail of MasterMap, but may perhaps exert a downward pressure on their price point.

Destroying business models?

Destroying monopoliesDisruptive techNew geodata nichesEnd users of maps

So in a way it's all about destroying business models. Map providers have a great business model. Licensing their maps. It's monopolistic.

OpenStreetMap is disruptive technology which drives a wrecking ball through that. In its wake it leaves behind interesting new geodata niches. Small companies can get involved map service provision, but I'm not going to lie to you. It's tricky to find a money-making niche.

The people that undoubtedly benefit are the end user maps. Businesses / website ideas which make use of maps tangentially to their business model.

Use the maps

Take the free data

Take regular updates

Feed your data in?

Work with the community


So I'll end with some ideas for ways you might think of using OpenStreetMap

First of all the basic mashup approach, using the rendered map tiles on your website. Dead easy. Please do it!

You can download the free data and think of services to build on it. The data is improved all the time by the community though, so think about pulling in regular updates.

If you have a business which involves geo-located data, maybe there's some data you can feed back to the community. This may even form a virtuous circle as the community improves your data.

Finally communicate with the community and work with them. This can be quite tricky because it's a chaotic community. Lots of busy channels. 10 different answers to any question. Feel free to ask questions via someone like me.

@harry_wood on twitter

Harry Wood has been an OpenStreetMap enthusiast, and contributor since 2006. He works as a senior software engineer at on projects relating to transport and GPS data analysis. Previously he worked in a technical and OpenStreetMap community development role at CloudMade. In 2011 he has continued to volunteer for the project in several roles, as mapper, developer, documenter, community coordinator, promoter, and the chief London event organiser.

These slides are (of course) freely re-usable under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 License

Map images cc-by-sa2 contributors.,,,,, .Wrecking ball photo by Rhys's Piece Is. Adapted free clipart from