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Eddy’s Sofa And The Nightmare Of A Single Global Places Register

“Eddies,” said Ford, “in the space-time continuum.” “Ah,” nodded Arthur, “is he? Is he?” 
“What?” said Ford. “Er, who,” said Arthur, “is Eddy, then, exactly, then?”

Why,” he said, “is there a sofa in that field?”
“I told you!” shouted Ford, leaping to his feet. “Eddies in the space-time continuum!”
“And this is his sofa, is it?” asked Arthur, struggling to his feet and, he hoped, though not very optimistically, to his senses.

Jump onto Eddy’s sofa for a moment and fast forward to a possible 2015. 

After the location wars of 2010, the problems of mutually incompatible geographic identifiers have been solved with the formation of the Global Places Register. Founded by a fledgling startup on the outskirts of Bangalore, the GPR offered an open and free way for individuals and corporations to add their town, their business, their POI. All places added became part of the Global Places Translator, allowing Yahoo’s WOEIDs to be transformed into OpenStreetMap Ways, into long/lat centroids, into GeoNames ids or even, for the nostalgic, Eastings and Northings.

With this thorny problem solved, location issues became a thing of the past, no one used the phrase ubiquitous location any more and location really was a key context. 

Until 2014 when, inspired by the move from CDDB to Gracenote, Global Places Pty Ltd promptly ringfenced the entire database under a commercial license and added a mandatory application id to all their APIs. An application id that cost a lot of money in licensing.

Of course, the fact that the GPR was now the sole global source of places doesn’t mean that it’s complete or authoritative. Being controlled by a single corporation, the GPR is an easy and obvious target for hacking and litigation. A dedicated team spends all their time removing places and POIs from the register that have offensive or religious connotations, either as a result of user generated contributions or malicious hacking.

Sadly, the cities of London in Ontario and Ohio are no longer found in the GPR; they’ve had to rename themselves after a successful trademark and copyright case brought by London in the United Kingdom, which is now the sole place in the world allowed to call itself by that name. This does make geodisambiguation a bit easier though.

Likewise, you won’t find any newsagent or newsstand POIs in the GPR; they were all removed following a successful DMCA takedown by the League of Concerned Conservative Fundamentalist Parents, who didn’t want their precious offspring to be able to locate purveyors of potentially offensive adult material on their GPR powered LBS apps on their Android mobile internet tablets.

The same goes for any business with the word jolly in it; they were all removed and forced to rebrand following the success of Jolly Jet trademarking the word jolly and then pursuing an aggressive litigation program against any business unfortunate enough to have that word as part of their name.

This is all just a geographical bad dream. It’s not real. Wake up. Back to 2010 now, safe and secure in the knowledge that this could never happen …

Yet there is a growing clarion call for an open global database of places, POIs and business listings that will allow all of the disparate geographic identifier systems to be rationalised and used interchangeably. It’s the problem of what I’ve started calling GeoBabel but an actual global database of places isn’t the solution to this problem.

State of the Map 2010 – Schedules announced


I know that you have been waiting to see the schedule for State of the
Map 2010. And now I know that you will love it. The SotM team has
done a spectacular job of soliciting and acquiring a great line-up of
speakers and topics. You will want to buy your ticket and book your
trip now.

Day One: Business and Workshop Day

Day Two: Community, Tech, Quality and Scholarship Tracks

Day Three: Tools, Imports, Humanitarian and Cartography Tracks

One sign of an excellent conference program is having too many hard
choices between concurrent sessions. This schedule passes that test.
I’ve made many decisions on which talk I’ll attend, but others I’ll
have to decide at the last minute. This is a conference not to be

State of the Map 2010 – Sponsor update

A couple of additional sponsors have confirmed their return appearance
for State of the Map 2010! Both of these companies are supporting
State of the Map at the Silver sponsorship level.

Returning from sponsoring in 2009:


Curly Brackets

Returning to sponsor SotM for the third consecutive year:


ITO World

There are still a few sponsorship spots available. Act now to meet and
greet with a wide cross-section of the movers and shakers of the
OpenStreetMap community.

Image of the Week: OSM data on a train

From Simon Clayson’s Flickr stream, we learn:

Great Western Trains have some seats with airline style LCD
“entertainment” screens. More interesting than paying £1.50 to watch
an episode of Friends is the “You are exactly here” screen which is
free. And it uses Open Street Map! Good work Volo TV.

Simon also tells us that the maps are attributed. He says, There’s
a big notice as you arrive on the page that thanks the “Contributors
of OpenStreetMap”

Photo of OSM map on VOLO:TV by Simon Clayson.
The photo is licensed cc-nc-nd

OSM HeatMaps in the browser w/ OpenLayers


Felipe Barriga Richards writes on his blog:

After been working sometime with OpenLayers I figure out
how to make heatmaps generated in the user browser. Now I’m using
OpenStreetMap for both map and data.

Another wonderful tool building upon the wonderful tool that is

I can’t wait until Felipe releases his code so I can try this myself.

See the rest of Felipe’s article and more demonstration videos at:…

Icons for data browser pages


Dan Karran notes an improvement in OSM.

I posted a while back about some tinkering I’d been doing
with the OpenStreetMap data browser pages, adding icons to nodes and
ways when they’re shown in a list. I’m happy to see that TomH has now
pushed those changes live.

Nice one, Dan!

See more of what Dan had to say in his post



There are bugs everywhere. There are even some errors in OpenStreetMap
data. OpenStreetBugs is a site that allow folks to quickly report a
problem with or question about specific OSM data. Have a look at OpenStreetBugs
near you and help clear some of the existing bugs by helping the
reporter with a tagging problem, or visiting the site for a quick
survey and re-tagging.

State of the Map 2010 – Concert contest

The upcoming State of the Map conference, 2010 edition is going to be
loaded with great presentations, awesome workshops and more Mappy
Goodness than you can shake a stick at. But it will also be a lot of
fun. Some of the fun will be the ad-hoc enjoyment of a thoughtful
cartography conversation among peers. Some of the fun will be
learning about and enjoying the culture and hospitality of our hosts
in Girona, Spain. And some of the fun will be singing songs about
maps at the top of our lungs.

The SotM 2010 organizing committee sends us the following contest challenge:

Do you remember the 2008 Limerick Limerick contest?

And the 2009 Amsterdam Haikus?

Then you should be asking yourself “What kind of poetry will we have
to master this SotM10?”. Unfortunately for you, this year there won’t
be a poetry contest.

This time we’ll be doing something different. As the State of the Map
2010 venue is actually a concert hall, we’ll host the first official
OpenStreetMap Concert Contest.

The rules are simple:

* Make a song, or change the lyrics of an existing song. The song
must be about OSM, maps, GPS, GIS software, or cartography.
* You may assemble a band to play the song together (or play solo).
* You may use the concert hall A/V facilities (amplifiers, audio
inputs, video playback, etc). Please do talk with the SotM10
organising committee if you plan to.
* You will be required to play the song during SotM10.

Get the full details and sign up for a spot on stage:

Concert photo by Foxtongue is
licensed CCBY