Open Street Map – Review

As part of my second assignment for my Digital Tools and Methodologies module, we were told to review OpenStreetMap. This is an open source mapping website that allows registered users to contribute to the website. If you’re not signed up, then all you can do is view what has been contributed by many others.


My process: 

First of all, I visited http://learnosm.org/it/editing/id-editor/ to learn how to edit the map. Like any new toy, you read the instructions first. It was very visual, which I found to be extremely helpful.

I decided to start off with my own hometown, since I would have more information about it, but it seemed to be mapped pretty well. My own estate was mapped but wasn’t named, so I decided to add that in. My area mustn’t have been updated in quite a while because Eddie Rockets, in Blackpool, has been replaced by a diner called Rockin’ Joes. So I made a few changes, also moving Lifestyle sports to the correct building.

I then decided to see if my primary school and secondary school in Glanmire were mapped. This area didn’t seem like a lot of focus went into it. My primary school wasn’t even acknowledged, so I decided to add it in.Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.19.00Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.18.45


Then I checked my secondary school and realised that there was a “h” missing at the end of the name, so I fixed that. Also, the school cafeteria was named as a gym so I had to change that, and I also added in the swimming pool as a building.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.23.25


Going through this whole process I’ve noticed a few pros and a few cons.

Pros

  • The user interface is attractive, and is very visual with icons.
  • The tools, eg: using a polygon to add a line or area, is very easy to use.
  • It allows anyone to contribute, once they have an account.
  • There is a delay from when you change something, to when it actually appears on the map for viewers, because it has to be reviewed. So information added as a joke, won’t be as funny if it takes a while to show.
  • Various options to choose from, to describe the area/building you’re mapping

Cons

  • As it is a crowd sourcing project, it allows anyone to contribute, once they have an account. Which in result, could lead to a lot of wrong information being added.
  • Whatever you add, can be changed by another person that might think that they’re right.

What i’ve learned from this experience: 

I’ve learned how to use this mapping tool, by reading the guidelines and contributing my bit to this project. It’s helped me understand the importance of mapping things correctly, because tourists or even local people that want to find their way around their area , could get lost. And also, the importance of leaving the correct information behind us, because this could be used in the future.

This is the third mapping tool i’ve encountered during my time in this Digital humanities module. I also did a review for my first assignment on a mapping tool called SepiaTown. Mapping tools seem to have grown because of the amount of interest invested in them. People like to know where things are.

How you feel you might be able to apply the spatial or the crowdsourced initiatives in your own work – now or in the future: 

I will be able to use SepiaTown in the future if i’m ever looking for a historical image that applies to whatever project i’m involved in.

I’m not sure yet what I would use Open Street Map for, but it’s seems like a reliable enough source that I could use any data it displays and be sure that it’s credible. Thus, using it in whatever project i’m involved in.


I do find these digital mapping tools to be very interesting, and I’m positive I will be searching for more spatial and crowdsourced initiatives to expand my knowledge for future projects of mine.

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