Category Archives: talks

Open Data from Toronto

Mark Kuznicki hosted the Toronto Open Data Lab at the Toronto Innovations Showcase this week.  This was the official launch of, and the release of several open data sets.

I was pleased to meet so many folks working at the city of Toronto and at the province of Ontario who showed so much interest in Open Data.  There were many great conversations going on, from the exhibition floor at the city hall rotunda to the mixer at a local pub later.  All of these are great signs of a new open-awareness at the city and I see it as overwhelmingly positive.

Being new to the world of Open, the city wanted some feedback regarding for what applications people would use this newly available data.  As Toronto Transit Commission data, addressing data and road centrelines were all released I thought immediately of the travel planner for London from mySociety.

I had that chance to talk to many folks about OpenStreetMap through the course of the day and I was pleased to share my enthusiasm for a travel planner like this using the Toronto data.

Travel planner using Toronto Open Data

The data we have now is imperfect but rather than critiquing the quality of the dance steps of this bear, let’s marvel that Toronto released open data at all.  Most of the data sets grew up in separate silos in Toronto departments.  The folks at the city are as new to these data sets from other departments as we are.  They’ll get used to working with each other in an open environment and that will move them to more of the open tools, standards and practices that we take for granted.  I’m sure we’ll see a bug tracker soon.  We’ll see increased use of open formats rather than proprietary lowest-common-denominators.

Bravo, Mayor Miller, for recognizing the benefits of Open.  Bravo, Mark Surman for challenging Toronto to become a city that thinks like the web,  This is an important step along that way.

Toronto City Hall Photo is licensed cc-by-nc-sa by Vlastula on Flickr

London Travel time map is licensed cc-by-sa by Tom Carden.

MetaPlaces in San Jose

Check out the MetaPlaces conference in San Jose in September. Good crowd of speakers including yours truly.

As Tyler Bell of Yahoo! is quoted on the website:

“I’m delighted to see this focus on an holistic location aware experience and business. The future of geo technologies has very much outgrown its origins in the traditional automotive sector.”

The State of the Map Quick Links

There’s not long to go until the State of the Map 2009. Here’s a quick update on places you can find out how to participate in the greatest open geo bonanza in the world:

Discounts available for OpenStreetMappers to attend Where 2.0

The title says it all. The guys at O’Reilly have given a generous 20% off the ticket price for this year’s Where 2.0 conference to anyone involved in OpenStreetMap.

OpenStreetMappers always make a prominent appearance at Where 2.0 and this year is no exception. To get your discount, use the code “whr09osm”.

Fun at Where 2.0

If you’re in the Bay Area for Where 2.0, make sure you come along to WhereCamp, the unconference for geo-hackers, mappers and location people. You can find out more about WhereCamp here.

Call for Presentations for the State of the Map 2009 Closes Soon

The call for papers for the State of the Map 2009 closes on the 3rd May.  You have just over one more week to get your presentations in.  As a reminder, here are the themes for this year’s conference:

  • OSM 2011 – How do we take OpenStreetMap from 100,000 to 1,000,000 contributors?
  • New Mapping Frontiers – Learn how OpenStreetMap is expanding into new communities, new regions and mapping new features.
  • OpenStreetMap Application Development – Hear about the latest and greatest applications developed by the OpenStreetMap community
  • Tools Tips and Techniques – Get expert advice from the people who created the tools!  Learn about editors, map renderers and more.

We had some fantastic submissions and ideas so far, on subjects ranging from how OSM can combine data from other sources to create a richer map, exploration of the quality of OSM data, how we’ll build the community out to 1,000,000 contributors to building the next generation of slippy maps that will render vector data in the browser.  If you like OSM, you’ll love the State of the Map.


The Crowd Sourced Approach Gathers More Supporters

The Geographers, GIS buffs and spatial analysts at UCL have always been big supporters of OpenStreetMap.  Over the last few years more and more of their attention has been turning to the study of crowd sourcing as a way of creating geographic information.  One great example of applying academic research to OSM is Muki Haklay’s 2008 OSM Quality Evaluation work, in which Muki compared OSM data to data sets produced by the UK Ordnance Survey (OS) – the UK Government body charged with mapping the UK.  The OS has a fierce reputation for for producing some of the most accurate and most detailed maps in the world, so its impressive to hear that: “The positional accuracy [of OSM] is about 6 metres, which is expected for the data collection methods that are used in OSM. The comparison of motorways shows about 80% overlap between OSM and OS…”.  Of course OSM moves quickly – there are now more than 100,000 OSMers around the world compared with 35,000 this time last year – so when I spoke to Muki earlier this year I was excited to hear that there is more OSM data analysis on the way.  Watch this space and in the meantime, take a look at this recent presentation.

A team of UCL Geographers are taking their interests in crowd sourcing on the road, speaking at the American Association of Geographers annual meeting in Las Vegas next week (22nd – 27th March).  Papers include: “Neogeography: Crowdsourcing and Mapping for Masses” – something that should be of interest to any OSMers in the area.  Another interesting looking title comes from TeleAtlas Chief Scientist Don Cooke talking about “Neogeography and Crowdsourcing: the View from a Walled Garden“.  I got the opportunity to talk to Don after giving a presentation about OSM and crowdsourcing at last year’s Where2.0 conference.  He was a big fan of OSM and the crowd sourcing model.  One thing’s for sure – the often distainfuly labelled “paeleo” generation are not going to roll over and die.  Guys like Don Cooke or the UCL geographers are veterans of an industry that has created vast data sets, empowered millions of people to make better decisions, as well as creating companies with multi-billion dollar price tags.

How will OpenStreetMap react when the “walled garden” approach to crowd sourcing puts the power to edit and create maps in the hands of everyone with a mobile phone or a sat-nav?  To make sure that the open approach to crowd sourcing keeps on producing data sets that can be favourably compared with those of the walled gardens we need to keep one step ahead.  Learn from the acheivements and mistakes of companies like Tom-Tom, who are embracing crowd sourcing.  Openess alone isn’t going to build a free world map.  We need to expand the reach of OpenStreetMap – attract 900,000 more mappers in more places of the world and help them produce better maps.

Call for Papers for the StateoftheMap 2009 is now open

What are the burning OpenStreetMap issues that you want to talk about?  Have you been working on the next killer OpenStreetMap application?  Have you been promoting mapping and opengeodata, holding mapping parties and tirelessly mapping in the sun, rain, wind and snow?

The call for papers for the third international StateoftheMap conference is now open.  The OpenStreetMap Foundation invite contributions from mappers, geo-hackers and open geodata supporters around the world.  If you are involved in OpenStreetMap mapping, coding or community organization – or if you want the chance to present your ideas or opinions to the OpenStreetMap community, you should submit a paper to the StateoftheMap 2009.

Themes for 2009 are:

OSM 2010 –
Taking OSM from 100,000 to 1,000,000 contributors

OpenStreetMap has come a long way in a very short space of time.  With 100,000 contributors all around the world, OpenStreetMap has its future ahead.  But there are also some big challenges ahead.  How can OpenStreetMap continue to support new mappers around the world?  How can the successes of mappers from well mapped countries be repeated in the unmapped world?  What will a community of 1,000,000 mappers look like and what technical infrastructure needs to be put in place to support OSM’s growth?  What are the new challenges that the OSM community must rise to in order to attract more mappers from diverse cultural backgrounds?  What lessons can be learned from other open-source and open content communities who have made the transition from bedroom projects to world renowned successes?

New Mapping Frontiers – Expanding OSM into new communities, new regions and mapping new features with OSM

OSM started with some roads and footpaths in central London and now includes 1000s of different types of geodata around the world.  As OSM continues its goal to provide a free map of the world, where will the line be drawn between “mappable” and “unmappable”.  The third and fourth dimensions, indoor mapping and historic mapping are all there for the taking.  What about aerial imagery?  Will UAVs and community contributed aerial data provide detailed, open datasets?  Is there really such a thing as “ground-truth”, or is all mapping subject to interpretation?  What about subjective data: where do reviews, ratings and personal opinions fit in the OSM database?  As OSM is taken up by new communities, what are the cultural barriers that need to be broken to make sure that new mapping frontiers are crossed?

OSM Application Development – Building applications that use the OSM APIs

OSM’s APIs provide a great base for all kinds of application development.  What are the killer apps of 2009?  Will this be the year of the OSM Mobile Editor?  How can OSM’s trailblazing cartography continue to break new ground?  What are the “enterprise” tools and services that are bring OSM maps to new users around the world?

Tools Tips and Techniques – Practical workshops that take a deep dive into a specific area of OSM

Are you power user of an OSM tool?  If you’d like to share your expertise with OSM editors, cartography tools or OSM APIs, you can propose a session to host.  Maybe you want to learn more about a particular area of OSM – if so you can also request a session to be given.

Session Formats

  • Talk – present your paper in either a 15 or 30 minute slot with time for questions afterwards
  • Discussion Sessions – Groups of 5 – 15 people hold an informal group discussion of a special interest topic
  • Lightening Talks – 5 minutes to say your piece.  Sign up on the day
  • Workshops – 2 hour sessions that give OSMers the chance to take part in an in depth tutorial

The call for papers closes on the 3rd May 2009, so you have just over 6 weeks to get your abstracts in.  A provisional program will be published in mid May 2009.

To submit your paper, follow this link.  If you need any more information about submitting a session, contact Nick.

To register for the StateoftheMap 2009, click here.

The State of the Map 2009 is Coming to Amsterdam

It was the first country to be completed in OpenStreetMap, its the home of TomTom, TeleAtlas, AND, a thriving OSM community and now its hosting the State of the Map.  This July, Amsterdam will host the greatest gathering of OSMers the world has ever seen.  The State of the Map 2009 will build upon the success of the last two events by adding a third day to the event.

Friday 10th July will be themed “OSM In Business” and will feature demos and presentations from some of the increasing number of commercial and governmental organisations who are using OSM.  This will be a must-see event for any business or governmental organisation who are using OSM or are considering using it in the future.

Saturday 11th – Sunday 12th July will feature the winning formula of the last two years, with presentations, lightning talks and workshops from the OSM community.

We’ll be launching the SOTM website and the program of the Friday “Business Day” in early January.  But don’t wait until then to book your flights.  The dates are 100% confirmed, so book cheap flights now to avoid disappointment!

The call for papers will be announced in early 2009, with a range of themes and tracks, including “Hacking on OSM”, “OSM 2010″, “A freely mapped world” and “OSM in Business”.

Stay in Touch

See you all in Amsterdam :-)

Early Bird Registration for OpenStreetMap State Of The Map 2008

Just one day more for early bird registration for OpenStreetMap’s second international conference in Limerick, Ireland on the weekend of 12-13 July 2008.  Drop everything and go to registration.

If you need some general travel orientation, there’s a SOTM 2008 travel page.

Limerick is 25 km from Eire’s Shannon International Airport and it is a 30-minute journey to Limerick by connecting bus running every hour (timetable) throughout the day.  If you are coming in from Shannon, Dublin or Cork airports and want or can offer a ride see our ride-sharing page.

The main venue has accommodation available for our special rate of ‚¬70 single and ‚¬100 for double/twin per night including breakfast – email and quote “Open Street Map” – or here are some lower cost options nearby.  This WikiTravel WikiVoyage link also has more on bus, train and car hire plus other accommodation options and what to see.

The venue itself is The Kilmurry Lodge to the east of the town centre [map].

A great opportunity to meet your fellow mappers from all over the world.

See you there.