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OpenStreetMap Baghdad

OpenStreetMap Baghdad is happenning. This is incredible and exciting. And we need your help. Please read on.

OpenStreetMap is an free and open collaborative map of the entire world. We gather GPS tracks and draw maps over them, in an editable wiki style database. And recently we added aerial imagery to our toolbox, thanks to Yahoo!, so dense urban areas and remote locations can be mapped just by tracing streets in the web browser.

This means that OpenStreetMap has the most comprehensive map of Baghdad among any of the web mapping services.

Yahoo has great coverage over Baghdad, and we’ve been tracing. But since we’re physically just about everywhere else in the world but Baghdad, we don’t know the names of the streets or the neighborhoods, and especially what’s changed and still changing during these years of conflict.

So we’re reaching out to find people who could help .. people in Iraq now or have been in Iraq. Data sources, like any old maps or geographic names databases that are permissible to use would be very useful. Or crucially at this point, people who might know people who might know these people and sources. Maybe that’s you.

Our core belief is that open and accessible geodata helps people. The BBC reported on Iraqis using Google Earth to safely travel and avoid violence.

We are well aware of the huge challenges here, culturally and technically. There’s been discussion on how to handle the multiple names of streets .. the old names under Saddam, new names under different factions, and the government. OpenStreetMap can handle all endonyms .. names should exist by use not prescription. And that’s just scratching the surface of the issues. But right now is the right time for proving the open collaborative model for geodata, in the places that need it the most, and OpenStreetMap is ready to take it on.

So any help is welcome .. forward an email, blog post, CNN .. anywhere closer to people that can make OpenStreetMap Baghdad take off. And any comments or discussions, positive or negative, are welcome too.

Good new year from Imi

Hi all,

to fall into line with Steve, I wish you all a good new year 2007.

Although nobody found me at the CCC this year (what a bummer.. but I didn’t prepared any cookies anyway ;-), I still did some coding on JOSM and also made a very small tutorial to demonstrate some of them. Not enough for a new version, but postponed is not abandoned! 😉

The tutorial is flash this time, so you can watch it online too (anyone knows a flash player for firefox/linux/AMD64?)

Get the tutorial at




Dr Muki Haklay from the Geomatic Engineering dept of UCL has very kindly organised with the The Royal Geographical Society some funding for further work on OSM.

I’ve known Muki from when I worked at CASA one summer long ago. OSM started as some conversations with his colleague Martin and also Matt. Muki did a great talk at the first asklater nights about map usability (or lack of it) online. Unfortunately the recording broke but I remember him pointing this gmaps query out and the fundamental lack of DPI problem with showing maps on computers.

A few people on the mailing list are graduates of either UCL or the GE department, and it’s great to be supported by the community, a map company and academia.

SIS OSM Support

Cadcorps big GIS thing, SIS, now has an OSM plugin. You grab data with a fancy dialog box:

and can then overlay it with whatever other data you have, like this:

Neat, huh? Big thanks to Martin Daly at cadcorp for the work. SIS users should be able to get a copy of the plugin soon from here