Earlier I came across a post on the mappa mercia site that really demonstrates the power of the collaborative nature of Open Street Map compared to other web mapping providers. One determined user has chosen to explore and map all the features in a particular UK postcode area, B72, in Birmingham. And when I say “map”, I don’t just mean the road network… the Open Street Map of this area now shows 3500 individual labelled residential properties, including gardens, almost 300 named retail units, 100 commercial buildings, together with all the normal OSM details of bus stops, litter bins etc. The level of detail in the resulting map is remarkable.
For reference, here’s a screenshot from Bing Maps’ roadmap view of a small area in the B72 postcode area:
Here’s Google Map’s, marginally more detailed, view of the same area:
And, largely based on the efforts of one person, here’s the Open Street Map version (click to enlarge):
Note the house numbers, additional detail of the shape of roads, boundaries of properties, every individual retail outlet listed separately… just brilliant.
This is only a small area of one country but, with the coordinated effort of talented users on the ground, it’s easy to see how OSM’s collaborative model can create more accurate, more up-to-date mapping information than the commercial data providers used by Google, Bing, Yahoo, and the like could possibly match. The future looks bright for mapping….