OpenAerialMap is a site for collecting, hosting, and mapping freely available aerial imagery. The project comes at a good time. There is increasing interest in DIY aerial imagery. DIY Drones is a community started by Chris Anderson for aerial imagery enthusiasts. Commercial venture Pict’Earth offer aerial imagery systems that includes their custom geopositioning software. And of course Make has had a project for aerial photography via a kite for a while.
You can view any uploaded imagery set on a map. You can apply an OpenStreetMap layer if desired. Current sets include: Burning Man 2007, Afghanistan, San Diego 2003, and the San Diego Widlfires of 2007 (pictured above).
Anyone can register as a datasource. You can then upload and geoposition your imagery using the site’s tools. Though the project idea has been around for a while it was only recently put together by Chris Schmidt, an OpenLayers (Radar post) contributor and MetaCarta (Radar post) employee. Chris has made the site’s code available.
Why is the project necessary? Though the imagery that Google, Microsoft, and others make freely available is excellent in its quality and coverage, you are only able to use it under their terms. This project makes imagery fully available and in one place. Also it can take 6 months or longer for an area to have its imagery updated on the larger sites – in the case of certain events you may want to capture a change now. I would love to see this project scale out like Open Street Map has, but that will take a while as the barrier to volunteer is much higher.