OpenStreetMap Moves Beyond The Streets, Starts Mapping Amazonia
from the boldly-going dept
OpenStreetMap is fast-emerging as one of the key open projects — so much so, that proprietary rivals in the world of digital maps are evidently getting worried. Just as the LAMP stack — GNU/Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/PHP/Python — provided a robust and free foundation for a whole generation of websites a decade and a half ago, so OpenStreetMap is becoming more widely adopted as part of the mobile web, and as geodata grows in importance for a new generation of software applications aimed at users on the move.
Although OpenStreetMap provides better coverage than well-funded commercial rivals in many parts of the world, with important knock-on consequences, there are still some regions where its maps are largely empty. Take Amazonia, for example. OpenStreetMap shows the main rivers, a few towns, and that’s about it. Nothing if not ambitious, OpenStreetMap has just announced a new project — Mapazonia — which aims to bring its maps here up to the standard of other regions:
The Amazon rainforest includes territory belonging to nine different nations and there are a lot of environmental institutions and governments that need better geospatial data to do their work in that region. Furthermore it’s always good to have quality data in case of a natural disaster or other humanitarian issues. In Brazil there aren’t many editors in this northern region, so there are a lot of towns without any data and some roads to trace.
As that notes, once completed Mapazonia will be an important tool for environmental organizations — for example, those seeking to monitor and reduce Amazonian deforestation — and for humanitarian bodies to use in the event of disasters there. It’s a great example of OpenStreetMap stepping in to fill gaps left by commercial offerings that have no interest in mapping vast areas with few people and little business activity. It emphasizes once more that open projects are not just valuable because they are open, but also because their different priorities lead them to tackle problems ignored by those whose primary motivation is profit.