[OSM-talk] Area mapping density gap - Was: Wikipedia article

Florian Lohoff f at zz.de
Sat Oct 26 18:38:24 UTC 2013


On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 02:25:37PM +0200, Christoph Hormann wrote:
> I think this is an important point - OSM does and will for the 
> forseeable future contain both extremely well and extremely sparsely 
> mapped areas ('areas' being meant here both spatially and 
> thematically).  One of the major tasks will be to keep both the well 
> mapped parts up-to-date and improve the sparsely mapped parts.
> Although this is difficult to back up with numbers i have the impression 
> the gap between well mapped and badly mapped areas in Openstreetmap is 
> widening even though you would think it is much easier to improve a 
> badly mapped area than a well mapped one.  When during use of 
> Openstreetmap i look at some area (because i read about it in a news 
> report or whatever reason) i am frequently amazed by the detailed 
> information i find there but i am equally often appalled by the lack of 
> data.  One of the motivations in Wikipedia for having notability rules 
> certainly is to address exactly this kind of problem and to focus 
> efforts on those parts considered important.  Openstreetmap obviously 
> should not follow a similar path, especially considering how it proved 
> damaging in Wikipedia but just attracting additional contributors is 
> not enough. In my opinion there is need for a more active discourse on 
> gaps and uniform quality of the data.

But isnt the widening gap a very natural thing to happen for a geo
database? In the end your mappers are distributed unevenly so your pace
is distributed unevenly. Not everything can be done with armchair
mapping so we as the one living in the very good mapped areas can't help
to create a complete map of very sparse mapped areas.

I dont see this as a problem at all. I for example have an emotional
link to Madagaskar. I typically explain the value of OpenStreetMap with
it. I always tell people that there is no economic value for anyone
commercial to map Villages where all of the 500 People dont own a car.
Although there is a road, this road will most likely never appear in any

With OpenStreetMap we dont need an economic return of invest. We dont
need an economic reason to map this street. We map because we want
completeness, a beautiful map,  fairness and equality of all the worlds
people or whatever reason. So suddenly there is a map showing how to
reach these villages. And for these areas we dont need the same
completeness, level of detail or the same speed of updates.  Even if the
bend of the street has changed, or a bridge has flushed away and is
replaced with a ford the map still shows how to reach these villages.

Maybe i am to optimistic but i was a very early adopter of Linux and 
i have now used it for nearly 20 years and nobody could imaging its
success in the early '90s.

OSM will be THE source for geo data in the future. It will be the most
up to date, most detailed, most used data world wide. There is no way
around - we simply have to be patient, wait and probably develop more
and better tools for processing and editing of OSM Data.

One day - probably 20 Years from now we will discuss whether we want to
map the gras middle strip of the road in some unknown Village in
Madagaskar and whether it'll be cut by a cow or mower.

The gap will probably exists as long as we have an economical gap,
so fight the G8, Globalization and probably US Aid.

Florian Lohoff                                                 f at zz.de
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