[Talk-in] OSM: License and other issues

Kai Krueger kakrueger at gmail.com
Wed Oct 28 22:47:13 GMT 2009


H.S.Rai wrote:

 > Which are the good solid point which make OSM better than Google
 > inspite of above observations.

I can currently think of two main advantages. For one, there is the 
potential for the crowd sourced approach of OSM to provide more detailed 
  and accurate maps than the commercial providers such as TeleAtlas and 
Navteq that google maps mostly uses. And in a few places like perhaps 
e.g. Germany, some parts of the UK, Romania or Cypress and probably some 
other places, OSM overall has already reached a higher coverage and 
uptodateness than google maps. Unfortunately India probably doesn't 
belong into this category quite yet.

But I think the real selling point of OSM is the free access to vector 
data and its resulting flexibility. Although the benefit of free vector 
data might not be immediately obvious to the joe public (potential 
future mappers), the products and applications it enables hopefully are 
and there is an constantly growing ecosystem thriving around the usage 
of OSM data that give real benefits in comparison to google maps. The 
ones I can currently think of roughly fit into three categories.

1) Mobile or Handheld navigation devices: Perhaps the most prominent 
example hereof are the routable garmin maps, that allow you to put free 
worldwide OSM maps on most garmin GPS devices, something you can't do 
with google maps. Likewise, there are many apps for mobile phones that 
allow you to use OpenStreetMap for maps and navigation. And although 
Google Maps also has a mobile application, it always needs connectivity 
to the internet and needs to download significant amount of data through 
the mobile network, which can be problematic if network connectivity is 
patchy, or data (roaming) charges are high. Apps based on OpenStreetMap 
in contrast can use the data offline. E.g. OffMaps and Roadee for 
iPhone, GpsMid or WE-travel for java based phones and many others such 
as Navit for a variety of other platforms that aren't available to 
google maps such as e.g. car-PCs or Sony PSPs.

2) Inovative new uses of geodata. One nice example that fits into this 
category is perhaps MonopolyCityStreets. An massive online version of 
monopoly played on a whole world map. This is actually a very curious 
example, as it uses google map tiles to display the board, but uses 
OpenStreetMap vector data for the entire backend game database and 
without this, the game wouldn't have been possible. Other nice examples 
  are the use of OpenStreetMap data in rendering background scenery in 
flight simulators or other games. Without OpenStreetMap these innovative 
ideas wouldn't have been possible, as data from TeleAtlas or Navteq 
would have been to expensive for these usages and Google maps only 
provides rendered tiles, which aren't suitable for this.

3) Styling and customizing maps. Unlike Google maps that only provides a 
single style, with OSM one can create as many different styles as one 
wants. E.g. a special map style for India, or the cyle map, the public 
transport map, the skiing piste map or just simply different colours 
that e.g. go better with the website into which one wants to embed to 
map. And with the style editors of CloudMade, there are actually some 
nice simple tools to create new style, if one doesn't want to get into 
the more flexible but more difficult process of writing own mapnik style 

So I think there are hopefully plenty of good examples of why 
contributing to OSM is worth it and what it has to offer on top of 
google maps. And imho flexibility and variety are the key selling points.


P.S. Sorry for breaking the mailinglist thread, but I am not subscribed 
to talk-in. Nevertheless I felt like adding my 0.02$ into the discussion 
of how best to convince people of the benefits of OpenStreetMap

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