Tool Review: Open Street Map

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I was asked recently to use a service named open street map and explore its Pros and Cons. Firstly before I discuss the Pros and Cons of open street map I will have to explain what it is and I want to describe my own use of the tool.

Open Street Map is a website that provides a world map that all users can edit to create the most accurate map possible. The users will need to gather information about the area they are mapping from roads, forest and even certain buildings. Users can enter any details they want to enter into the map and change anything already entered they believe is wrong.

Users are the only ones who can change the map but non-users can view the open street map as they wish. This is the purpose of open street map which is to provide everybody the most accurate world map possible. As of now the nearly the whole entire map has been filled in and this has effect on my own experience with street map.

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When I downloaded street map I first tried to find a place in my own country to map only to realise that all the roads and most of the buildings have been mapped. Then I decided to look for places that were likely very far from society. I actually tried to map Chernobyl where the place itself and surrounding areas where abandoned and not well known to many people. I found out that the whole place was mapped too and someone even managed to map the radiation pockets.

I checked out many places that where likely not to be mapped but it was proving difficult. I wonder could I change a mistake in the map but everything seemed perfect. I checked my hometown to see if there was anything I could change there. In the area I live there is this old building that used to be a piggery that has been shut down ever since I remember. The building was not highlighted and the route from the town to it was not marked on the map.

I marked the road leading to the piggery on the map then followed with highlighting the piggery as an industrial building with the title “derelict piggery”.  As soon as I made these changes I had the road removed by another user but the not the building.

My Pros with using Open Street map is it is easy to view the map weather you are a user or non-user. The tools to edit the map which is referred to as IDEditor is very simple to use and allows changes to map to be quick and accurate. The map also in terms of accuracy is very accurate to the users who would need a very accurate map that highlights not only roads but areas.

The cons of Open Street map are that since it is user made it is possible that it might not be all that accurate as I have previously suggested. The users have the power to change the map if they wish and it is really possible that some users will purposely cause disruption of the map. A road I made for example was deleted a couple hours after I made it and I had to put it up again.


There is one other thing that I thought of as a Con at first but could be a Pro in reality. Once you make a change on the map the information you change will not appear until it goes through many application using open street map. This process is frustrating for the map editors who want to see their work on the map but at the same time it makes it frustrating for people to disrupt the map all the same.

The implications of my use of open street map resulted in users being provided knowledge of a building and the road that leads to the building. If they wanted to know what the building was later on if they are in the area of the town they can now look it up on open street map and find the route to it.

The whole map is literally done on open street map but if you want to make very small contributions to the map you can join Open Street map on .


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