OpenStreetMap and CycleStreets: collaborative map-making and cartography in the age of the internet


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Abstract: The arrival of web-based mapping from Google and others has revolutionised, in the space of only five years, the way many people interact with maps and map data. And the success of projects such as Wikipedia highlight how collation of small amounts of information from large numbers of people - an approach called 'crowdsourcing' - can challenge traditional models of data collection and ownership. Bringing these concepts together is OpenStreetMap, a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. Well-established enterprises such as the Ordnance Survey are coming under increased pressure from this new model, and large companies such as MapQuest and Microsoft are starting to use and invest in it. Martin Lucas-Smith, Webmaster in the Department, and one of two main developers of the leading UK-wide cycle journey planner website, CycleStreets, will discuss OpenStreetMap, its use within a wide range of systems (from cartography, routing, and even its central role helping deal with the Haiti disaster) and discuss the challenges it poses to traditional forms of cartography and data collection.

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OpenStreetMap and CycleStreets: collaborative map-making and cartography in the age of the internet

  1. 1. OpenStreetMapand CycleStreetsCollaborative map-making and cartographyin the age of the internet Martin Lucas-Smith Department of Geography University of Cambridge
  2. 2. “OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a collaborative project tocreate a free editable map of the world.” - WikipediaCollaborative:  Jul 2007: 9,000 people; December 2010: 333,000Project:  Not just a map - mass of ideas, processes, data, outputsFree:  Free financially and Free as in openEditable:  Constantly changingOf the world:  Global, not just UK where it started
  3. 3. OpenStreetMap“OpenStreetMap creates and provides freegeographic data such as street maps to anyonewho wants them.“The project was started because most maps youthink of as free actually have legal or technicalrestrictions on their use, holding back peoplefrom using them in creative, productive, orunexpected ways.”
  4. 4. OpenStreetMapUK – Ordnance Survey:High quality, but ...Cost can be prohibitive  (particularly voluntary sector)Derivative data restrictions  Ordnance Survey claims derived data rights when you place something over one of their maps  Incompatible with direction of the Internet, where data is being ‘mashed’ together to make useful information and visualisationsCentral control – change can be slow
  5. 5. Crowdsourcing principle“Crowdsourcing is the act of taking a jobtraditionally performed by a designated agent(usually an employee) and outsourcing it to anundefined, generally large group of people in theform of an open call.” knows a little bit about something intheir area. Put that together and you get:
  6. 6. OpenStreetMap OpenStreetMap website default style
  7. 7. OpenStreetMap Cloudmade ‘Fresh’ style (#997)
  8. 8. OpenStreetMap Cloudmade ‘Googley’ style (#5138)
  9. 9. OpenStreetMap OpenCycleMap
  10. 10. OpenStreetMap OpenCycleMap
  11. 11. OpenStreetMap CycleStreets data view
  12. 12. OpenStreetMap CycleStreets data interrogation
  13. 13. OpenStreetMap
  14. 14. OpenStreetMap Glosm 3D (Russia)
  15. 15. OpenStreetMap
  16. 16. OpenStreetMap
  17. 17. OpenStreetMap
  18. 18. OpenStreetMap
  19. 19. OpenStreetMap Urban accessibility of Castelfiorentino
  20. 20. OpenStreetMap Bike Hub app, uses CycleStreets routing
  21. 21. OpenStreetMap First tactile map based on OSM data published on May 12, 2009
  22. 22. OpenStreetMap OpenPisteMap
  23. 23. OpenStreetMap Marikina Mapping Party cake (4th Mapping Party in the Philippines)
  24. 24. CycleStreets Journey planner
  25. 25. Data collection  Structured ground surveys  Ground surveys, performed by a mapper  On foot, bicycle or in a car or boat.  Usually collected using a GPS unit  Government data sources  Landsat 7, US TIGER data, OS OpenData  Commercial data sources  AND from Netherlands  Traced from satellite imagery  e.g. Yahoo!, Microsoft Bing have donated
  26. 26. Objective data  OSM is a store of objective data  Everything must be verifiable  Subjective data is not welcome  Subjective assessment is the realm of the user of the data  E.g. Cycle journey planner decides on the likely niceness of a street based on objective attributes like speed limit, width, surface quality  My cycle to work would be different to my mum’s: we have different preferences for a ‘good’ route
  27. 27. OpenStreetMap ITO World animation OSM 2008 - A Year of Edits
  28. 28. Data collection Mapping takes place individually or in groups
  29. 29. Ground surveys Individuals or groups survey using GPS and taking notes Made easier by GPS technology  2000: Bill Clinton switches on wider GPS availability  Mid-2001: GPS units available for $100  2004: GPX standard (GPS data transfer) widespread
  30. 30. Mapping parties A group of openstreetmappers and novices Go to area & map it exhaustively, usually over a weekend Dividing up an area between participants and mapping it Mapping by car, cycle or walking Social aspect important: people can meet up and talk (usually at a pub) between mapping sessions
  31. 31. Mapping parties  e.g. Walking Papers: Print current state, annotate, load back in 
  32. 32. Social context Social context important  Community decides on data collection and structure norms appropriate to their situationThe mapkibera project istraining locals people ofKibera, Nairobi to create amap with OpenStreetMapTechnologies used dependon circumstances
  33. 33. Social context Importing other people’s data?  Massive debate within the OpenStreetMap community  (Assumes donated data is compatibly licensed)  One view: importing data gives the impression that an area doesn’t need to be mapped in person and reduces volunteer input  TIGER data import in US very problematical  Another view: importing data gives a massive head-start and means we can get into much more detailed mapping  Data creators vs Data consumers have different perspectives  CycleStreets needs a reasonably complete map!
  34. 34. Social context Is objectivity always possible?  WikiProject Gaza  Practical issues  How do you represent a location where only some people can enter/exit?
  35. 35. Social context How do you represent a location where only some people can enter/exit?
  36. 36. Social context Crisis Mapping: WikiProject Haiti Before January 12, 2010 Then NOAA, GeoEye, DigitalGlobe flew planes over the area, and donated their imagery for tracing purposes  People around the world at their computers contributed to effort Roads, buildings and refugee camps of Port-au-Prince mapped in just two days “The most complete digital map of Haitis roads”
  37. 37. Haiti The resulting data & maps have been used by several organisations providing relief aid, such as the World Bank, the European Commission Joint Research Centre, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNOSAT, others
  38. 38. Data collection
  39. 39. Informal data structure No formal specification of how to represent things  No database schema – just key-value pairs Reflects the social context of the users  Users make it up as they go along  Communities of interest  norms  Conventions established, then stability  User/collector cycle embeds the convention
  40. 40. Informal data structure Nodes & Ways, Tags describes the (many) conventions formed so far Examples  Motorway represented as: “highway=motorway”  Local street: “highway=residential”  Guided bus! “highway=bus_guideway”  Fence: “barrier=fence”  Cycleway: “highway=cycleway”. But what type?  “cycleway=lane”  “cycleway=track”  “cycleway=opposite_lane”  POIs: “amenity=postbox”, “shop=charity”  Not to forget... “amenity=pub”
  41. 41. Adding data Potlatch 2 – (
  42. 42. Adding data Potlatch 2 – (
  43. 43. Potlatch 2 editor [Quick demo]
  44. 44. Adding data JOSM – Java OpenStreetMap Editor – advanced users
  45. 45. Adding dataThe ArcGIS Editor provides:• Simple tools to upload and download OSM data• An OSM-compatible geodatabase schema to locally store OSM data• An OSM symbology template for faster editing• Conflict-resolution tools for reconciling data back to the OSM database ArcGIS plugin for OpenStreetMap (free)
  46. 46. OSM vs Google MapsGoogle often doesn’t have information needed bycyclists/walkers – park paths, cut-throughs, pubs!Google doesn’t provide any data – just a picture OSM Google maps
  47. 47. OSM vs Ordnance Survey Depends what scale Question is intended use “Good enough” notion  OSM will never be good enough for utility companies needing exact location of pipes  But for many other uses, appropriate and good enough Sutton Coldfield B72:
  48. 48. OSM vs Ordnance Survey Costs money – not free Big difference is the license – not free (libre) Plot points on a map and the OS claim some rights to that  Derivative data issues  Major problem in the age of the internet, where data is being shared, mixed, repurposed By contrast, OSM uses a Creative Commons license
  49. 49. Challenge to traditional mapping agencies OSM and internet sharing more generally forcing a change in business models Ordnance Survey seeing more competition Lowering data use costs Lowering data collection costs Forcing derivative data restrictions to be removed Challenge in the small scale map data area
  50. 50. Opens new opportunities Businesses like Microsoft, Google and others presumably spend a small fortune on mapping data Bing Maps (Microsoft) and MapQuest (AOL) now actively putting money and resources into OSM project  OSM provides them with a cheaper way of providing data with far fewer restrictions
  51. 51. Quality assurance issues Can we trust the data?  Depends whether it’s ‘good enough’ for your use Can we trust formalised data?  Tales of lorry satnavs for instance Balance between accuracy and speed/volume  Arbury Park was in OSM as it was built – OS slower Quality around the country variable  How can we ascertain this? Vandalism  But there’s the ability to watch an area for changes  More people = more vigilance or more vandalism?
  52. 52. Challenge to traditional cartography Cartography is a major area of interest within the OpenStreetMap community Cartography is becoming more automated as Web 2.0 steams ahead 
  53. 53. Cloudmade map renderer demo [Quick demo] Click ‘Edit map style’ Click on a design to start from Click ‘Clone Style’ in the bottom-right Use the ‘Object Visibility’ box on the right to remove/add features
  54. 54. OpenStreetMap ecosystem At the heart of the OpenStreetMap project is a database holding all the map data that people work with. Left: editors people use to enter data into the database Right: all sorts of interesting uses for the data, e.g. ...
  55. 55. OpenStreetMap uses Non-commercial Commercial / profit-making use absolutely fine  As long as people adhere to the license, i.e. give attribution and allow downstream users to share/re-use the data Maps of very many kinds Web routing SatNav devices Data analysis (e.g. accessibility analysis) Placefinding GPS background Humanitarian ...
  56. 56. CycleStreets Cycle journey planner
  57. 57. Journey planner: features Plan route from A-B, anywhere in UK Simplest possible interface  Click-click-plan, and simple Namefinder Gives set of route choices  (fastest, quietest, balanced) Takes accounts of hills (uses NASA SRTM) Turn-by-turn directions Photos-en-route
  58. 58. CycleStreets Journey planner [Quick demo]
  59. 59. Journey planner: features Shows distance, time, CO2, soon: calories Google Street View at any point Feedback system Localised versions for easy linking  E.g. Link methods  E.g. ‘Fly in Google Earth’ Export to GPS
  60. 60. Photomap
  61. 61. Photomap: features Icons on map (per type of feature)  Click to view image and info Add photo  Crowdsourcing: lots of people, but each donating a small effort Categorisation  E.g. “Show me all the cycle parking problems in Cambridge”
  62. 62. Mobile Key features on small screen iPhone app out Android under development Generic mobile web version under development
  63. 63. Mobile Other apps now incorporating our routing Data interface Bike Hub – great world-first iPhone bike real-SatNav In the leading Boris Bike app, ‘London Cycle’
  64. 64. Why? Fundamentally, we want to see “More people cycling, more safely, more often” New cycle users face many challenges in UK:  Poor infrastructure, traffic hostility  Confidence cycling (address with training)  Cultural/identity issues: not yet mainstream  Lack of utility bikes in shops  Routes – different to car routes! We try to tackle the last problem ... and the first (through the Photomap)
  65. 65. How it works (briefly) 1. Data comes from people collecting data on-street for OpenStreetMap  Factual data only – e.g. presence of road  NOT “This is a nice cycle route” 2. We take OSM data ‘off the shelf’  Though we’re part of the community in practice  Import each week (daily in ideal world): fresh data  Conversion process is complex – understanding the data
  66. 66. How it works (briefly)3. Score each type of path:4. Take account of hills (add/remove penalty)5. Account for turn delays (work ongoing)6. Take account of detailed cyclist behaviour (ditto)
  67. 67. How it works (briefly) 7. Compress the network, to make the system much faster (system called ‘Cello’): A A 9 8 4 9: AC 10 7: AD,BD D 3 B B 6 6: BC C C 9 Park: 4 nodes & 7 ways After: 3 nodes & 3 ways
  68. 68. How it works (briefly) So each path / road / shortcut / etc. now has a score  Higher score = worse for cycling (more ‘friction’) 8. Find the lowest total score from A to B  Standard problem in computer science, we use A* method 9. Route is found 10. Repeat for quietest, fastest modes – each have different scores 11. Routes shown to user
  69. 69. Route feedback goes to OSM contacts
  70. 70. OpenStreetMap Lots of different renderings  We are using OpenCycleMap by Andy Allan  Cloudmade serves ‘tiles’ which form a static background once a route has been planned – i.e. we just put this behind a line we have calculated
  71. 71. CycleStreets: history Cambridge-only cycle journey planner Originally written for Cambridge Cycling Campaign Launched June 2006 Google Map –based  5,000 lines drawn over satellite imagery  Google doesn’t give you data: just cartography 47,000 journeys planned 15,000 photos added
  72. 72. CycleStreets: history Lots of requests for same thing in other places around the UK Result is CycleStreets We are using OpenStreetMap for our data  We don’t have money for an OS license Went to public beta in March 2009 Over 500,000 journeys planned Promotion ramping up this year  Key deficiencies being fixed
  73. 73. Transport Direct CJP£2.4 million (from tax) £28k92,000 journeys planned 458,000 journeys planned (dated Jan 2011) (dated Jan 2011, reached 500k on 22nd Feb 2011)£26.09 per journey 6p per journey£1m – budget for 2011 £130k needed32 areas (professionally surveyed) UK-wide (but depends on OSM completeness)
  74. 74. UKGovWe think cycle journey planning is more effective whendone by local people using Open DataSo we are working to ensure that CycleStreets is thesolution of choice
  75. 75. Big Society –compliantWe tick all the boxes: Collaborative: involves local people Low cost: datasets have no license fee, agile delivery Trusted: for the people, by the people Open Data Citizen involvement: combines skills and input of large numbers of people (collecting data) Quality delivery: problems can be fixed easily Transparency: more people oversee the data and spot problems or potential improvements Cabinet Office
  76. 76. Currently main feature on!
  77. 77. Local Authorities
  78. 78. Difficulties we face with OSM Lack of static IDs – unique numbers for features change – potential issue for the future Lack of quality control: makes harder to engage Local Authorities Coverage not uniform Vandalism a concern for some Ability to engage local mappers when an area is deficient Subjective data? Many of these problems will go away as OSM matures
  79. 79. OpenStreetMap: Summary Applies the Wikipedia approach of crowd-sourcing Extremely flexible Free (cost) and Free (libre) Challenging traditional map agencies / business models and government funding models Communities of interest and norms  Much scope for research Varied uses: maps, electronic devices, humanitarian, .. CycleStreets using it As more data goes in, more uses, so more people add data, so more people use it, so ...
  80. 80. David Earl Martin Lucas-Smith, Twitter: @cyclestreets