[OSM-talk] Facebook mapping highways using AI in collaboration with OpenStreetMap

Joseph Eisenberg joseph.eisenberg at gmail.com
Thu Aug 1 04:16:17 UTC 2019

Besides the tech boosterism, another issue is that it's disingenuous
if Facebook claims to be strongly supporting OSM, while continuing to
keep their valuable user-provided data in a separate, proprietary

Facebook and Google have the two best lists of POIs like shops and
restaurants, and an extensive database of customer photos and reviews
which they control. While Facebook has decided to use OSM for road,
street and waterway data (which they couldn't easily have users add),
they keep this data for themselves. Were Facebook interested in
improving OSM, they could share their POI data, including when a
feature was last visited and notes about which feature no longer
exist. This could add millions more OSM contributors for features like
shops and restaurants, which are not yet completely mapped even in
well-developed OSM communities in Europe, and it would be
revolutionary in Indonesia and Thailand.

Only a few people will every become hobby mappers, adding waterways,
highways, landuse and such for fun, but every business owner wants to
see their shop or office on Facebook, so these POIs would be added and
kept up-to-date by users.

I don't expect Facebook to share this data for free, because a large
part of their business model is recording your geodata and using this
to maximize profit for their shareholders, but if they ever decide to
really prove "we're not that evil", sharing their data could go a long
way to changing Facebooks poor reputation for corporate responsibility
and transparency.


On 8/1/19, stevea <steveaOSM at softworkers.com> wrote:
> (I chose the wrong source email address; apologies if anybody gets this
> twice).
> Thanks, Jóhannes.  I did try FB's tool myself and was pleasantly surprised
> it does a "looks OK for now" job of how Mikel put it earlier:  "a balance
> between turbocharged and exploitation."  I hear you as you say that
> mapwith.ai has, as I described, a comfortable workflow of "AI suggests,
> human maps, human checks that what is acceptable can be uploaded, human
> uploads."  That's fine, it does indeed have "a human in the loop" and the
> human checks for quality, the human is not just being there for the sake of
> being there.  This aspect of "humans, not AI, determine quality" is a
> critical component of what I am saying.
> What I believe raised ire here was the BBC botching the "press announcement"
> as a stilted and seemingly uninformed "cheerleading" piece that made AI
> sound as if it were a "magic bullet" that was going to save mapping in OSM
> somehow.  It isn't (magic) and it won't (though AI is an important tool
> going forward, especially as it is coupled with human wisdom and a hawkish
> eye towards high quality).  OSM is, and will always be, a
> human-participating project, with all of the social and "get outdoors and
> map" project as one (human) might like it to be.  AI can and does help,
> that's fine, as long as humans are always "in charge."
> Again, it sounds like there is a lot of agreement here.
> SteveA
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