OSM: A useful tool or a community?

The OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a free and editable map of the world and was in fact, inspired by the success of Wikipedia. It was created in 2004, and now has over 1.4 million registered users. Not only does OSM enable travelers to eliminate some of the dangers they may face in foreign places, but in 2011 when an earthquake hit East Japan, it is proven that the Open Street map played a useful role when it came to examining the changes after the natural disaster. The analysis of the investigation suggests that what is called crisis mapping, was a turning point for expanding OSM activities in Japan. Much of the information that was collected, was used to gain information acquisitions in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Some countries contribute to OSM on a larger scale than others. However, the most thrilling aspect of OpenStreetMap is the fact that it emphasizes local knowledge. I.e., if a family goes on vacation on the other side of the country, they would often ask the locals of that area questions they may have about family activities to do and beautiful places to see. OSM works in that sense, that ordinary everyday people have contributed to a large-scale informative map. Whether it be GIS professionals, engineers running the OSM servers or humanitarians mapping disaster affected areas, OpenStreetMap is a community driven app that holds much significance in its exceptional and original formatting and ideas.

OpenStreetMap has been dubbed one of the most impressive sources of volunteered Geographic Information on the internet. Many people would consider OSM to be a map, when in actual fact it is a database. Above all, however, it is a community. Sure, google maps can give you directions from any one place to another instantaneously, but OpenStreetMap allows you to collaborate and build something that people from all corners of the globe has contributed to. In today’s social and technological climate, people are more inclined to become engrained in their online world or online identity without a second thought. Gaining information about the world when it comes to map, is usually thought to be a monotonous act that requires purely black and white research, but with the aid of OSP, the world has the ability to become connected in a way that is unique.


Imi, Y; Hayakawa, T & Ito, T 2012, ‘Analyzing the Effect of Open Street Map During Crises: The Great East Japan Earthquake’, Commerce and Enterprise Computing (CEC), pp. 126 <http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/xpls/icp.jsp?arnumber=6470787>

Neis, P & Zipf, A 2012 ‘Analyzing the Contributor Activity of a Volunteered Geographic Information Project- The Case of OpenStreetMap,’ International Journal of Geo-Information, Vol. 1, Issue. 2. <http://www.mdpi.com/2220-9964/1/2/146>



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s