Disability Mapping with OpenStreetMap

Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

We’re gathering map data related to disabilities within OpenStreetMap, and because the map is openly editable, you can help!

Edit the map of your neighbourhood to add details on wheelchair accessibility, and the presence of things like tactile paving for blind people. Details of the world which we may not imagine to be important, can be very useful things when presented on a map to help people with a variety of disabilities. We have OpenStreetMap “tags” for them all, from gluten-free food outlets, to more simple things like steps and toilets. It’s a lot of detail, but with thousands of people all mapping their own neighbourhoods we can map the world for disabled people.

A number of projects are delivering very interesting custom map applications, of a kind which would only be possible with free open access to raw geo-data:

WheelMap.org provides a great interface into wheelchair accessibility data, presenting a traffic-light colour coding of accessibility, and inviting you to help categorise more map features in this way.

wheelmap-screenshot-en

Researchers at the University of Heidelberg have produced a prototype wheelchair routing service. This German language only service is available at rollstuhlrouting.de. The routing for wheelchairs takes into consideration maximum slope angle, the type of surface (e.g. cobbles vs asphalt) and the height of kerbs; all this information can be mapped and added to OpenStreetMap.

In France mappers conducted an extensive detailed mapping of accessibility features for railway stations, with funding from the french national railway company SNCF as part of their initiative to support open data. A talk by Christian Quest at our annual State of the Map (SOTM) conference, gives more details.

Also at the SOTM conference we had a talk about Haptomai, one of several experiments looking at supplying maps to blind people. Check out our OSM for the blind wiki page for links to other projects, and details of the kind of map contributions which can help.

Many of these projects are in the early stages of development, and welcoming new contributions to develop the ideas further. OpenStreetMap can offer a wealth of detailed data feeding into these innovations, but only in the neighbourhoods where this data has been added. So on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, there’s lots of interesting ways to help with OpenStreetMap!

Weekly OSM Summary #82

November 4th, 2013 – November 18th, 2013
A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap world.

Authors: Pascal & Dennis – (thx @ “Wochennotiz”)

Weekly OSM Summary #81

October 21st, 2013 – November 4th, 2103
Special issue – A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap world.

Authors: Pascal & Dennis – (thx @ “Wochennotiz”)

Upgrading from Google v2 API? Free yourself and upgrade to OpenStreetMap

google-v2-javascript-no-longerHave you received an e-mail like this?

“We cannot guarantee that your maps will continue to function. We highly recommend that you migrate to Google Maps v3 before November 19.”

Yes, Google Maps are shutting down their old JavaScript Map API (v2). They recommend that you spend a lot of time rewriting your code to switch to the newer v3 API.

But why not spend that time switching to something better?

OpenStreetMap is the map made by experts – the locals who know their area intimately. It has footpaths and bike paths, alleyways and waterways, green spaces and public places, along with the roads and railways you expect. It’s updated every minute of every day, not just next time Google sends out a StreetView car. No wonder big names like Foursquare, Github and Mapquest have already made the switch to OSM.

Switching from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap is easier than you think. If you’ve struggled with the old Google Maps APIs, you’ll find our equivalent, Leaflet, a breath of fresh air. Its smooth presentation will give a real lift to your site’s appearance, and on mobile it’s as fluid as a native app.

And if you want to go further, OpenStreetMap lets you build your own, beautiful custom maps from our data. You’re not limited to the same Google styling that everyone else uses. Because it’s all open source, you don’t even have to pay us anything for ‘premium’ services.

So how do you do it? The OpenStreetMap community runs the switch2osm.org website which offers several recommendations for switching to using OpenStreetMap. Check out the ‘Basics’ and ‘Using Tiles’ sections to find how to switch your JavaScript to OSM. If you want to build your own custom maps, you’ll find full details there too.

Because ultimately, OpenStreetMap is much more than a Google Maps API replacement. We offer something rather different: free and open access to raw map data. This empowers developers to unleash a wave of innovation and creativity which goes beyond embedding maps on a website. Best of all, when people use OpenStreetMap on their websites, more people see the map; more people join in with mapping efforts; and the community-created map gets even more detailed. By using OpenStreetMap you are supporting it, and helping us with our not-for-profit mission to create the best free and open map of the world.

switch2osm.org

Weekly OSM Summary #79 & #80

September 23rd, 2013 – October 21st, 2013
Special issue – A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap world.

Authors: Pascal & Dennis – (thx @ “Wochennotiz”)

Weekly OSM Summary #78

September 9th, 2013 – September 23rd, 2013
A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap world.

Authors: Pascal & Dennis – (thx @ “Wochennotiz”)

The “PD checkbox”

If you signtickbox-distorteded up for an OSM account after May 2010 you may have noticed a check box with the label

“in addition to the above agreement, I consider my contributions to be in the Public Domain”.

Many years ago when the discussion started on the new licence for OSM data, one of the larger issues was if we should not adopt a very liberal (as in free) stance and use something close to a public domain distribution instead of the share-alike provisions we had in the existing CC by-SA licence. In the end, as you know, last year we switched to a licence with strong share-alike provisions, the ODbL, We did however add the “PD checkbox” in an attempt to span the gap between the two camps.

Unluckily what ticking the box would actually imply was, and continues to be, rather unclear; interpretations range from participating in an informal survey to actually giving permission to use the data on PD (or similar) terms. On top of that, at least for some time, there was a design issue with the specific page that potentially led to new contributors selecting the option inadvertently. Not to mention that the explanatory text changed multiple times in different locations.

To make a long story short: it is a mess.

In June MapBox asked the board for a list of the users that had checked the “PD checkbox” on sign up or later, see board minutes 2013-06-20. After some discussion and feedback from the LWG WG minutes 2013-06-25 the board decided to publish overall numbers on the one hand to give an answer to a not unreasonable information request and further to try and lay this issue at least partly to rest:

Data per 19th September 2013

“PD check box selected” all active accounts: 37%

“PD check box selected” active accounts with at least one edit: 44%

As outlined above, the numbers can at best be taken as an indication of sentiment.

If it wasn’t clear from the discussion of the quirky history of the checkbox and the legal uncertainty that surrounds it: this does not imply that an extract could be made from OSM data that contains a substantial amount of “PD” data. Outside of the already mentioned issues, edits from accounts with this flag set are intermingled with edits of those that don’t have it set, and as the statement from the licence working group says: there is no guarantee that a user actually only contributed and continues to only contribute data from sources that are compatible with a PD distribution.

To conclude: while a significant minority of our contributors would prefer a less restrictive licence, and this will not be ignored in future discussions, we are currently obliged to operate within the spirit and letter of our current licence.

New Humanitarian Style

We’ve added a new map style option to the OpenStreetMap front page. Feast your eyes on the new “Humanitarian” style:

This style has been developed by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team to support their work, highlighting features they are most interested in, as well as just providing a contrasting stylisation of the map. The developer Yohan Boniface explains:

“OpenStreetMap data is as rich and varied as the real world. And, just as when you look through a window you can’t take in the whole world, so it is with a map based on OSM data: you can’t show it all. This is why we decided to provide the view from another window, through our own map and cartography, focusing on the world as seen through HOT’s community.”

“You may have noted that the colour scheme is light and pastel. This is certainly an aesthetic choice offering a nice contrast with the “standard” OpenStreetMap style. Consistency in the colour is also key to the readability of a map. But there was another goal for this. Now maps are everywhere, whether it is online or printed. But a generic map like the one we are building is generally only part of the message: whether it is online or printed, maps are often used with some custom data on top of them. For example, markers can be added to an online map to show specific points of interest. But also, more simply, they can be printed in order to draw on top of them. This could be details of a trip, a vaccination campaign, or additional map data when mappers are surveying. In all those situations, the map should do its job, providing geo information, but also leaving visual space for the main message.”

Read more about the new style on the HOT blog.

You can access this new style along with our other featured tiles any time you’re browsing the front page map, by clicking the layer icon on the right hand side.

Weekly OSM Summary #77

August 26th, 2013 – September 9th, 2013
A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap world.

Authors: Pascal & Dennis – (thx @ “Wochennotiz”)

Foundation AGM and board election results

The State of the Map conference in Birmingham is winding down (although today there’s a very lively room full of fifty OpenStreetMap hackers in way number 32637693) We’ll bring you a summary of all the SotM excitement soon. But before that… some OpenStreetMap Foundation business.

On Saturday we held the Foundation Annual General Meeting.

State Of The Map

Simon Poole, chairman of the board, conducted proceedings and gave his summary of the past year’s foundation news, and then we held a vote.

Board election results:

As Frederik announced on the mailing list, Dermot McNally and Oliver Kühn were both re-elected to the board. Congratulations to them. And they are joined by Kate Chapman.

Kate Chapman said in her manifesto: “Generally I would like to see the OSMF assist OSM in becoming more diverse, I think my experience through the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (H.O.T.) can help make that happen”.   Welcome to the board Kate!

The vote counts looked like this:

  • Kate Chapman 114
  • Dermot McNally 85
  • Oliver Kühn 57
  • Roland Olbricht 54
  • Kai Krueger 42
  • Gregory Marler 40
  • Marek Strassenburg-Kleciak 13

Thank you to all of the candidates for taking part in this process.

Articles of Association

We also voted on adoption of new Articles of Association, and 92% voted in favour, and so this is accepted.

On the issue of whether to allow corporate members to vote, opinions were a little more divided. The count was: For:75; Against:59; Abstain:14. This means a 58% yes vote, and the target of 75% has not been reached, so the amendment is not accepted.

You can read a little more about the points discussed at the AGM, in the draft meeting minutes.