I’m SUPER excited about the Atlanta Mapathon being held this weekend. Not because I care about Atlanta all that much even though my in-laws are from Atlanta. No, because I suspect that a huge mapping party, like a code sprint, is the most efficient way to get an entire city mapped. There are only 30 big cities in the USA. If we can withstand the surge of new OSM mappers, and we have enough experienced mappers to be able to scale the process, we can get an (open) street map of the USA finished within a year.
Probably not necessary to explain why it’s so important to have it be open. Probably is necessary to explain why the public domain doesn’t suffice. There are maps of the US already, produced by the USGS, in the public domain. The trouble with the public domain is that it’s not enough. You need a community who cares enough about the data to keep it up to date.
I’m a board member of the Open Source Initiative. We spend a lot of time dealing with licenses, to ensure that the code is “free enough”. We actually have a definition of “free enough”, which is the Open Source Definition. But free isn’t enough by itself. We have over a decade of experience, all of which tells us that free isn’t enough. Free software, or free data, or public domain data, isn’t sufficient. You need an open community of contributors.
And hopefully this weekend’s Mapathon will jumpstart that community within and without Atlanta!