Mappa Mercia Demonstrating the Power of Open Street Maps

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….

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3 Responses to Mappa Mercia Demonstrating the Power of Open Street Maps

  1. peterinscotland says:

    How can he do that without using copyrighted data from other mapping? Even if he walked down the street writing down the house numbers he’s not going to know the shapes of the houses without either OS mapping or satellite data or both.

    • alastaira says:

      OSM has long had an agreement with Bing that you can use Bing’s aerial imagery to trace the outline of features in the OSM Potlatch editing software.

      • peterinscotland says:

        Excellent, that’s really great to know! I might do some stuff locally if you can point me to the URL of the agreement so I know exactly what is allowed.

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