opensource Thoughts

OpenStreetMap and the Rabbit Phone problem..

This week the innovative guys as Nestroia have launched an experimental version of their great real estate aggregation site using OpenStreetMap mapping as an alternative to the usual Google Map Tiles. This is great vote of confidence for OpenstreetMap, but it also highlights some of the problems creating geodata from the cloud.

Where OSM data is comprehenive the map tiles are often more detailed than those Google supply which are based on commerical available datasets. For example this section of tiles covering my childhood neighbourhood in London is truely beatiful, in many ways a better map than the commerical websites.


However the problem is that the coverage for OSM data is not yet complete, and where there is incomplete coverage, for this type of application, its use is a problem. Look at these examples from Wokingham, West of London and part of the UK’s silicon valley.

The Google maps tiles using Tele Atlas data are pretty much complete..


However the OSM version has a lot of missing detail..


Mapping data really does need to offer complete coverage for it to be really useful, some may remember in the UK in the early days of mobile phones there was an alterative system based on local hotspots called Rabbit. This failed becasue you had to be within 100m or so of a hot spot, unlike the wider coverage of the early analogue mobile systems.

Mapping data needs to be as comprehensive, with no coverage gaps, what is great about Nestoria’s early exposure of the data in a real application is to highlight where more volunteer work needs to be done to complete the work.. If this is achieved by the OSM community, the critic’s of open source geodata will be silenced.

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

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