2012 – The Year of OpenStreetMap? Yes.

OpenStreetMap has been in the news a lot lately, and rightfully so.

Has the geospatial world reached the tipping point? Are users, developers, and society as a whole now more accepting of open-source spatial information? Are we now confident in the crowd sourced masterpiece that is OSM?

Yes, yes, and yes.

So, now two full months into 2012 I’m calling it.  2012 is the year of OpenStreetMap.  But why now?  I think it is due to a few reasons:

  • Quality and Coverage Improvements:  When OSM started many parts of the world were under-mapped, but once the community of users developed so did the maps.  Over time, and with great publicity during certain global events, the coverage and quality of the maps drastically improved.  In 2012 the data in OSM is now equal to, or better than well known web mapping tools.  For example, check out the coverage for North Korea.
  • Development of the Contributors Community: When I first learned of OSM several years ago I was skeptical of the random people creating this global street map, just like I was skeptical of Wikipedia.  Well, I was proven wrong (I’m still skeptical of Wikipedia…).  Even though there has been instances of tampering of OSM, its contributors have proven to be a consistent and reliable source of quality data.  I often spot check locations that I am familiar with to see if anything is amiss or needs to be updated, and thankfully I rarely have to make edits.  The growing and dedicated user community has really driven the quality, which is a great thing!
  • Credibility: Credibility is tough to earn, but through the efforts of users, developers, and the map using public, many reputable organizations trust the data available in OSM.  As OSM’s credibility grows a wider variety of well known organizations will start to use their data.  I’m guessing the next “big” mapping application that hits the market will be have an OSM back-end.
  • The Paywall: If you had a choice between spending something on a service or spending nothing on a very comparable (or perhaps better) service which would you select.  I would pick the equally as good free service.  You’ll see this with OSM.


So, there you have it.  I think you’ll hear a whole lot more out of OSM in 2012, whether it is about new and exciting applications built using their data, or companies switching their services from one of the major players to OSM.

There it is, my reason calling 2012, the Year of OpenStreetMap…two months late 🙂

Now, go host a mapping party!

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