OpenStreetMap is a free, worldwide, crowd-sourced map. It’s an extraordinary community running a fantastic project. We are proud to use it and support it, and encourage everyone to participate in their fundraiser.
Why a crowd-sourced map?
Why rely on Google and the likes to map the world? Whether it’s your own street, the place where you work, or where you last went on holidays, all of us have small parts of the world we know like the back of our hand. So why not share that information and make it available to everyone?
Put together, our collective knowledge has the potential to create the most accurate and complete map of the world. Furthermore, we can ensure that the information and the map remain freely available to everyone, without bias or cost. These are the great ideas that underpin OpenStreetMap.
Most importantly, this kind of mapping can really make a difference to people’s lives. For example, the humanitarian response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010 was hugely aided by an amazing community-based effort to map the country. This great video shows the response. And here’s an excellent write up on mapping in Haiti from the HOT: the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. The Crisis Mappers network also does some fantastic work in using technology and crowd-sourcing to help with humanitarian crises.
How you can help
Free stuff costs money. Servers are the biggest cost for OpenSteetMap (OSM), and they’re currently fundraising to be able to run bigger and better ones. If you can, join us in supporting their fantastic work and contribute. Any amount you can donate, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated.
If you’re strapped for cash, you can help in other ways, like promoting the fundraising drive on Twitter, Facebook, etc. and encouraging others to help out. You can also promote and recognise the amazing work of some the top contributors to OSM – the guys that spend time mapping out distant and frontier regions for nothing more than helping others.
And of course, you can use OpenStreetMap, and sign up for an account to make some edits yourself, and continue to expand, improve, and update OSM.
And next time you see a road or a building that is slightly off, or an area of the map without much detail, take a few minutes to sign in and edit it yourself. It’s a great feeling to know that your little effort can have such great effects.