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OpenStreetMap, how collaborative maps work

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is the project that gave life to the idea of crowdmapping. We are talking about an online platform where maps of the planet can be shared with a vast community, detailed and in a manner completely free.

The system uses shared geospatial data and especially, open source that allow users to use themOf modify them e di distribute them freely and therefore without being subject to restrictions due to licenses of any kind.

It is an ambitious project that since 2004 has involved a large number of people around the world who continue to collaborate to advance the platform, ensuring maps that are increasingly detailed and full of information, considered one of the most valid alternatives to Google Maps.

Let’s find out more about OpenStreetMap and how it works.

How OpenStreetMap works


Using OpenStreetMap users collect geographic data via GPSthe aerial images and any other source useful for the purpose, to create extremely precise and complex maps.

This data is “positioned” to highlight points of interest, streets, buildingactivity commercial e geographical featuresso as to bring a map into the hands of the end user with everything that characterizes a particular place.

Everything that is uploaded to the platform can be enriched and modifiedfrom other users in order to simplify the “construction” of the map itself, in a real one editing process based completely on collaboration between people from all over the world.

Furthermore, as evidence of the great potential of this open source project, each collaborator can label what is present on the map, describing any element precisely which characterizes a certain place, such as a building, for example, a watercourse and so on.

The idea behind OpenStreetMap is collaboration, a system that guarantees continuous updates and many innovations to share with the entire community

All information on the platform can also be used by third parties and be inserted on sitesapplications for satellite navigationsoftware for urban planning and any system needs to use a map with this level of definition.

As mentioned at the beginning, it is an open source platform and, therefore, anyone can access, modify and use the data within it as long as the source is cited.

Then, using the API (Application Programming Interfaces) of OpenStreetMap it is possible to give great help to application developers, who in doing so can freely use the platform’s data to bring their creations to life (always keeping in mind to cite the source).

Key uses of OpenStreetMap


A platform like OpenStreetMap has many key uses that can prove crucial in different contexts.

As already mentioned, the possibility of carrying on third-party applications maps with such a high level of detail allows developers to make the most of the potential of their projects and, clearly, without having to go through expensive licenses and constraints of any kind.

At this point we cannot help but talk about the “chapter“, from the local or regional organizations who are committed to promoting the use of OpenStreetMap in their area of ​​reference.

These chapters can be non-profit groups or organizations with the purpose of promote their territoryusing a shared solution e open source.

And it is precisely thanks to the chapters that the platform’s API can be used by millions of people all over the world (translated into more than 50 languages) to bring your own custom applications to life.

Precisely for this reason the developers were able personalize your software to the maximumstarting from freely editable maps that can be easily adapted to various needs.

Using free, open source software is an excellent way to develop applications that are efficient and customizable according to your needs

It doesn’t matter the end use, what matters is that OpenStreetMap maps can be completely modified for any type of need, highlighting for example the geography of a place, or the urbanization, the public transport network and much more .

Being a collaborative experience, this solution allowed users to map even remote areassuch as rural areas, where classic mapping systems may struggle to reach or simply may not have an interest in defining such places.

Furthermore, the idea of ​​a community platform, as always happens in these cases, also acts as a thruster for the projectamplifying the developers’ desire to always do better and develop new ones innovative solutions that they can profoundly influence digital cartography and, of course, simplify the development of innovative solutions related to it.

Finally, the idea of ​​being able to use all these particularities and in a way completely free it is an excellent incentive to improve the application and what it can offer, prompting many to invest their time in this ambitious project.

OpenStreetMap, the global impact


Over time (and after 19 years of continuous support) it is clear that OpenStreetMap has become a very solid reality, with a community of enthusiasts e di experts very prepared and truly ready to give her all for the success of the project.

It is therefore clear that a solution of this kind has had (and will also have in the future) a great impact on a global level and its “universal” nature depends, naturally, on its server which are distributed throughout the world.

A choice like this reinforces the idea of ​​communityeven because there is no central server which hosts all the data, but the various “pieces” of the project are stored in various regions of the world so that the data can be easily accessed and used from anywhere.

Furthermore, the main site is hosted on cloud servers managed by organizations and volunteersso as not to centralize “power” within a company solution that could reserve a monopoly on this precious information.

This system, therefore, also represents the guarantee of a free software and open to alllasting just like the community and ready to welcome an ever-increasing number of users and developers with their ideas.


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