Towards Geospatial Architectures of Participation

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  • 1. Towards Geospatial Architectures of Participation
      • Chris Holmes
  • 2. The grassroots remapping can't be stopped
    • Picking up where Schuyler left off
    • Collaborative mapping can't be stopped
    • But can we help it go a bit faster?
    • Stallman started work in January 1984
    • 2004 saw Weber's 'The Success of Open Source'
  • 3. From Rebels to the Establishment
    • It took 20 years for collaboratively built software to achieve mainstream success
    • Open Street Map - started in 2004, amateurs (in the best sense of the word), hobbyists and 'true believers'
    • 'The Success of Collaborative Mapping'? - a diverse commons of mapping data constantly updated by citizens, governments and the private sector
  • 4. How to Speed things up
    • Identify 'tipping points', places it will make economic sense to invest in collaborative mapping.
    • Encourage innovation
      • An Ecosystem of reusable tools, workflows, licenses and communities to evolve the most effective ways to map collaboratively on a wide variety of datasets
    • Clear legal ambiguities
  • 5. Tipping Points
    • Collaborative approaches to digital good production are cheaper in the long run
      • No owner to extract rents above the value of the good. Cut out the middle man.
    • Every organization buying mapping data will have a point where it's cheaper for them to fund improvement to a collaborative map than it is to purchase from a commercial provider for the accuracy they need
  • 6. Tipping Points (cont)‏
    • BUT: the transaction cost of that investment must be low, must be immediate results
    • Funding 'mapping parties'
      • Great innovation by Open Street Map
      • Quite cost effective
      • Takes very enlightened, forward thinking funders - a leap of faith
      • Like the early investors in open source, for most part ended up great investment, but hard for most to argue effectively for it.
  • 7. Potential Business models
    • Decouple functions of commercial data providers so market competes on each
      • Surveying/mapping - contracts to improve a certain area of a collab map
      • Provide Guarantees of accuracy, perform QA
        • ie someone to sue
      • Services and Consulting - contributions to collaborative maps are the 'calling card'
      • Accuracy evaluations of collaborative maps
        • Answer the question of 'should I invest in collaborative mapping?'
  • 8. Micro Tipping Points
    • Good enough for context
      • Most Mashups just need a bit of context
    • High quality in constrained areas
    • Niche verticals
      • Not all uses of maps need all the attributes
    • Good enough for basic car navigation
      • Introduces great feedback loops
    • Services built on top that make money in alternate ways
  • 9. Bounty Navigation
    • Car navigation with feedback loop
      • When the system gets you lost you can log in the change right then
      • Collects GPS data from all cars on the service, automatically extracts vectors and one way info
      • Monthly fee for all, you can reduce your fee and even make money by correcting maps (on the fly or online processing raw tracks)‏
      • Real time bounties for accurate information requested by clients
  • 10. Encourage Innovation
    • Architecture s of Participation
    • There's more to collaboratively map than streets
    • Two big 'commons-based peer production' movements: Wikipedia and Open Source
    • Will mapping look like one or the other? Something in between? Completely different?
  • 11. Wikipedia
    • One project to rule them all. 
      • Works out quite well for a big collective work like an encyclopedia. 
    • Anyone can edit, but also easy to rollback 
    • But a bad edit doesn't break everything, like in software.
    • Highly evolved mechanisms for watching areas and erasing vandalism
    • Automated techniques to get rid of spam
  • 12. Open Source
    • An Ecosystem of approaches
      • Different licenses, different languages, different sets of tools. Encourages alternative innovations, especially for niche areas
    • Very few people can edit an individual project as 'breaking the build' is really bad
    • Quite easy to start a new project
    • Innovation in workflow: FSF was cathedral building until Linus came along and shook techniques up.
  • 13. Collaborative Mapping?
    • We don't know..
    • Clear early leader with OSM
    • May be healthy to have experimentation with niche maps, constrained areas ect.
      • Different licenses?
      • Vetting of contributors?
      • More automation?
      • Alternate tools?
      • Work with governments?
      • Different workflows?
  • 14. GeoServer: CVS for the GeoWeb
    • Easy to install
    • Connects to PostGIS, Oracle Spatial, DB2, ArcSDE, MySQL backends
    • Outputs WMS, WFS, KML, Shapefiles, ect.
    • Editing through WFS-T standard
    • Extended standard for Rollbacks, Diffs, History, Commit comments
    • Soon will have granular security settings
  • 15. GeoServer Collaboration Features
    • Automated validation engine
      • Reject 'Chris Rulez!' over the 48 states
    • Integrate with 'power tools' through WFS-T
      • Many GIS professionals are already passionate about mapping
      • But they want to use the tools they know
    • 'Patches' - a GetDiff result is a WFS-T transaction, can apply it to another service
  • 16. Future features
    • Granular GeoRSS/email notification
      • Watch a bounding box
    • Version aware user friendly web and desktop tools with OpenLayers and uDig
    • KML Superoverlay output (GS 1.5.1)‏
    • Branches/sandboxes/suggest changes?
    • Easy license selection, machine readable
    • Whatever you want, it's open source!
  • 17. Legal Ambiguities
    • No clear licenses for mapping data
      • Software licenses don't work
      • Creative Commons doesn't really apply to data
      • Public domain or don't release? Or use complex contract law
    • Open Licenses for Geodata?
      • What is a derivative work for geodata?
      • What can be copyrighted? Do we need contract law?
  • 18. Clearing Legal Ambiguities
    • Clear terms of derivative rights from major mapping portals
      • With approval from their data providers
      • 'We think you can' isn't good enough for serious work
        • Teleatlas/Navteq will not be pleased with people hand copying their roads
        • What about wikimapia/geonames? Trouble later?
      • Yahoo! is the clear early leader in enlightened approaches to derivative works
  • 19. More clearing
    • Set of licenses with clear terms about derivation and attribution
      • Do whatever you like but don't sue me (BSD)‏
      • Don't sue me and give me credit (Apache)‏
      • Contribute back fixes to the data (LGPL)‏
      • All derived works must be collaborative (GPL)‏
    • Encourage different communities with different licenses and see what works
    • If you're a lawyer let's talk!
  • 20. Thank You!
    • The Open Planning Project:
    • GeoServer:
    • My blog:
    • This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.