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.

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Filed Under: amazon, amazonia, mapping, open access, open data, open street map
Companies: openstreetmap


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  1. icon
    Patrick Durusau (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:18am

    Non-profits will benefit? Can you say for-profits will benefit?

    I'm not sure where Glyn gets:


    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.


    Accurate maps are the basis for more access to the Amazon, not less. By comparison, why do you think the Afghanistan warlords fought so hard against better and more roads in Afghanistan? If you guess it would make it easier for a mechanized enemy to control the areas in question, take a gold star! Right in one.

    Political corruption is enabling deforestation of the Amazon now, yes? So how is having better maps of the Amazon going to reduce political corruption? Simple enough question. If better maps are not going to reduce political corruption, which we have agreed enables deforestation, isn't better mapping going to facilitate more deforestation?

    I don't doubt the good intentions of OpenStreetMap or its participants but in their rush to do good, they are over estimating the forces of evil seeking to damage the Amazon. Recall that deforestation wasn't an issue until the arrival of modern transportation and technology. That battle was lost long ago. Why lose another battle by making exploitation of the Amazon by oil, mining, timber and other robbers of natural resources easier?

    Disruption of the links in the chain that enable deforestation and exploitation of the Amazon would be a far better use of time and resources than depending upon some day using moral suasion to defend it.

    Peril to the Amazon increases with every new data point in OSM.

    Patrick

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