GeoData Explorations: Open Street Map's Growth

Open Street Map (OSM), the open data mapping project, has grown a lot over the past year. It now has almost 80,000 users and 800 million data points.

OSM’s data is still freely available, but commercial services around it have sprung up. Cloudmade is a startup that recently moved from the UK to San Francisco to be closer to investors and try to build up their US data. GeoFabrik is a German startup with similar plans (just focused on Germany). Flickr has been making use of it lately to supplement Yahoo’s Mapping data (specifically Black Rock City, Beijing, Kabul and Baghdad).

OSM year 2008

The above image is Planet – A Year Of Edits On OpenStreetMap. It was generated on November 23rd, 2008 by Peter Ito. Most of the growth occurred in Europe (where the project originated) and the United States (where the founder has moved). The US community has really picked up the pace and has started replacing the US government’s free TIGER data set. You can see images of the data edits in the US for October and November and an animation of the world’s edits.

OSM POI Cartogram

This cartogram shows the distribution of POIs (Points of Interest) in the OSM data set. The UK and Germany have a disproportionate amount of data compared to their land mass (but obviously not compared to their OSM users). This image was released on 11/7 on the Cloudmade blog.

If you’re not familiar with cartograms go explore Worldmapper, it’s an amazing site filled with them. Or make your own with the same software.

OSM users nd trackpoints 2008

The above graph shows the number of registered (and presumably contributing) OSM users and the number of uploaded track points. The user growth is similar to the early Wikipedia years, but it’s uncertain whether OSM will be able to match Wikipedia’s amazing growth. Uploading GPS tracks or editing geo data is a higher user barrier than editing an article. The user’s have to register and use complicated tools (though Potlatch, the online editor, attempts to even the playing field).

If you want to see the people behind the map all of their names are available in this short animation. You can see other OSM stats in their wiki.

This is the latest GeoData Explorations post, also see GeoData Explorations: Google’s Ever-Expanding Geo Investment. If you have geodata to share (for a future post) let me know in the comments.

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