OpenStreetMap ( OSM ) is a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. The creation and growth of OSM has been motivated by restrictions on the use of satellite navigation devices. [6] OSM is considered a prominent example of volunteered geographic information .

Created by Steve Coast in the UK in 2004, it was inspired by the success of Wikipedia [7] and the predominance of proprietary map data in the UK and elsewhere. [8] Since then, it has grown to over 2 million registered users, [9] who can collect data using manual survey, GPS devices, aerial photography , and other free sources. This crowdsourced data is then made available under the Open Database License . The site is supported by the OpenStreetMap Foundation , a non-profit organization registered in England and Wales.

Rather than the map itself, the data generated by the OpenStreetMap project is considered its primary output. The data is Then available for use in Both traditional applications like ict use by Craigslist , OsmAnd , Geocaching , MapQuest Open, JMP statistical software , and Foursquare to replace Google Maps , and more unusual roles like Replacing the default data included with GPS receivers. [10] OpenStreetMap data has been favorably compared with proprietary datasources, [11] though data quality varies worldwide. [12] [13]


Steve Coast founded the project in 2004, initially focusing on mapping the United Kingdom. In the UK and elsewhere, government-run and tax-funded projects like the Ordnance Survey have created massive datasets but failed to freely and widely distribute them. In April 2006, the OpenStreetMap Foundation was established to encourage the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data and provide geospatial data for anybody to use and share. In December 2006, Yahoo! Confirmed that OpenStreetMap could use its aerial photography as a backdrop for map production. [14]

In April 2007, Automotive Navigation Data (AND) Donated a full road data set for the Netherlands and trunk road data for India and China to the project [15] and by July 2007, When the first International OSM The State of the Map conference Was Held, there were 9,000 registered users. Sponsors of the event included Google , Yahoo! And Multimap . In October 2007, OpenStreetMap completed the import of a US Census TIGER road dataset. [16] In December 2007, Oxford University became the first major organization to use OpenStreetMap data on their main website. [17]

Ways to import and export data to grow – by 2008, the project developed tools to export OpenStreetMap data to power portable GPS units, replacing their existing proprietary and out-of-date maps. [18] In March, two founders clarification needed ] annoncé That They Have received venture capital funding of € 2.4  million for CloudMade, trading company That uses OpenStreetMap data. [19] In November 2010, Bing changed their license to allow use of their satellite imagery for making maps. [20]

In 2012, the launch of pricing for Google Maps led several prominent websites to switch from their service to OpenStreetMap and other competitors. [21] Chief amongst these were Foursquare , Craigslist who adopted OpenStreetMap, and Apple , which has a self-built mapping platform that uses TomTom and OpenStreetMap data. [22]

Map production

Map data is collected from scratch by volunteers performing systematic ground surveys using tools such as a handheld GPS unit, a notebook, digital camera, or a voice recorder. The data is then entered into the OpenStreetMap database. Mapathon competition events are also held by OpenStreetMap team and by non-profit organizations and local governments to map a particular area.

The availability of aerial photography and other data from commercial and government sources. Special processes are in place to handle automated imports and avoid legal and technical problems. [23]

Software for editing maps

Editing of maps can be done using the default web browser editor called iD , an HTML5 application using D3.js and written by MapBox . [24] The earlier Flash-based application Potlatch is retained for intermediate-level users. JOSM and Merkaartor are more powerful desktop editing applications that are better suited for advanced users.

The GNOME Maps Developed for the GNOME desktop environment, qui Many runs on Linux operating systems, will as of Version 3.20 include the option to edit OSM.


The project has a geographically diverse user-base, due to emphasis of local knowledge and ground truth in the process of data collection. Many early contributors are cyclistsWho survival with and for bicycles, charting cycleroutes and inland trails. [25] Others are GIS professionals who contribute data with Esri tools. [26] Contributors are predominately men, with only 2-5% being women. [27]

By August 2008, shortly after the second The State of the Map conference was held, there were over 50,000 registered contributors; By March 2009, there were 100,000 and by the end of 2009 the figure was nearly 200,000. In April 2012, OpenStreetMap cleared 600,000 registered contributors. [28] On 6 January 2013, OpenStreetMap reached 1 million registered users. [29] Around 30% of users have contributed at least one point to the OpenStreetMap database. [30]

Surveys and personal knowledge

Ground surveys are performed by a mapper, on foot , bicycle, or in a car , motorcycle or boat. Map data are usually collected using a GPS unit, but this is not strictly necessary if an area has already been traced from satellite imagery.

Once the data has been collected, it is entered into the database by uploading it onto the project’s website. At that point, no information about the kind of uploaded track is available – it could be eg, a motorway, a footpath, or a river. Thus, in a second step, editing takes place using one of several purpose-built map editors (eg, JOSM ). This is usually done by the same mapper, sometimes by OpenStreetMap.

As collection and uploading data is separated from editing objects, contribution to the project is possible also without using a GPS unit. In particular, placing and editing objects such as schools, hospitals, taxi ranks, bus stops, pubs, etc. Is based on editors’ local knowledge.

Some committed to the task of mapping all towns and cities, or organizing mapping. A large number of less active users contribute corrections and small additions to the map.

Government data

Some government agencies have issued official data on appropriate licenses. This includes the United States, where the federal government is placed under public domain . [31]

In the United States, OSM uses Landsat 7 imagery satellite, Global Shorelines Prototype from NOAA , and TIGER from the Census. In the UK, some Ordnance Survey OpenData is imported, while Natural Resources Canada ‘s CanVec vector data and GeoBase provide landcover and streets.

Out-of-copyright maps can be good sources of information about features that do not change frequently. Copyright times vary, but in the UK Crown copyright expires after 50 years and hence Ordnance Survey maps until the 1960s can legally be used. A complete set of UK 1 inch / mile maps from the late 1940s and early 1950s has been collected, scanned, and is available as a resource for contributors.

Route planning

In February 2015, OpenStreetMap added road planning to its official website. The OSRM , GraphHopper and MapQuest . [32]

There are other routing providers and applications listed in the official Routing wiki.

Map usage

Software for viewing maps

Web browser
Data provided by the OpenStreetMap project can be viewed in a web browser with JavaScript support via Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) on its official website.
OsmAnd is free software for Android and iOS mobile devices that can use offline vector data from OSM. It also supports OSM vector data with prerendered raster map tiles from OpenStreetMap and other sources.
GNOME Maps is a graphical front-end written in GNOME 3.10. It provides a mechanism to find the user’s location with the help of GeoClue , finds directions via GraphHopper and it can deliver a list as answer to queries.
Marble is a KDE virtual globe application which received support for OpenStreetMap.
FoxtrotGPS is a GTK + -based map viewer, which is especially suited to touch input. [33] It is available in the SHR or Debian repositories. [34]
Another GTK + -based map viewer. [35] [36]

The web site provides a slippy map interface based on the Leaflet JavaScript library (and formerly built on OpenLayers ), displaying map tiles rendered by the Mapnik rendering engine, and tiles from other sources including [37]

Mapnik, MapBox Studio, Mapzen’s Tangrams.

OpenStreetMap maintains open source routing engines available, such as the Open Source Routing Machine . [38] OSM data is popular with routing researchers, and is also available to open-source projects and companies to build routing applications (or for any other purpose).

Humanitarian aid

OpenStreetMap Philippines GPS map, an end-product of over a thousand crisis Haiyan humanitarian activation. [39]

The 2010 Haiti earthquake has established a model for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to collaborate with international organizations. OpenStreetMap and Crisis Commons [40] using satellite imagery [41] to map the roads, buildings and refugee camps of Port-au-Prince in just two days, building the most complete digital map of Haiti’s roads. [42]

The resulting and data and maps-have-been used by Several providing good Relief aid organizations, Such As the World Bank , [43] the European Commission Joint Research Center, [44] the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs , [45] UNOSAT [45] And others. [46]

NGOs, like the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and others, to work with donors like United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to map other parts of Haiti And build capacity of local people. [47]

After Haiti, the OpenStreetMap community continued mapping to support humanitarian organizations for various crises and disasters. After the Northern Mali conflict (January 2013), [48] Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (November 2013), [49] [50] and the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (March 2014), [51] the OpenStreetMap community HAS shown It can play a significant role in supporting humanitarian organizations.

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team is an interface between the OpenStreetMap community and the humanitarian organizations.

Along with post-disaster work, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team HAS Worked to build better risk models and grow the local OpenStreetMap communities in multiple countries Including Uganda , Senegal , the Democratic Republic of the Congo in partnership with the Red Cross , Doctors Without Borders , [ 52] World Bank , [53] and other humanitarian groups. [54]

State of the Map

Since 2007, the OSM community has held an annual, international conference, the State of the Map. Venues have been:

  • 2007: Manchester , UK [55]
  • 2008: Limerick , Ireland [56]
  • 2009: Amsterdam , Netherlands [57]
  • 2010: Girona , Spain [58]
  • 2011: Denver , USA [59]
  • 2012: Tokyo , Japan [60]
  • 2013: Birmingham , UK [61]
  • 2014: Buenos Aires , Argentina [62]
  • 2015: [no State of the Map was held in 2015 ] [63]
  • 2016: Brussels , Belgium [64]
  • 2017: Aizuwakamatsu , Japan [65]

Legal aspects

Licensing terms

OpenStreetMap was originally published under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (CC BY-SA) with the intention of promoting free use and redistribution of the data. In September 2012, the license was changed to the Open Database License (ODbL) published by Open Data Commons (ODC) in order to more specifically define its bearing on data rather than representation. [66]

As part of this relicensing process, some of the data was removed from the public distribution. All rights reserved. All rights reserved. It also included any data that was not compatible with the new terms. Estimates suggest that over 97% of data would be retained globally, however certain areas would be affected more than others, such as in Australia where 24 to 84% of objects would be retained, depending on the type of object. [67] Ultimately, more than 99% of the data was retained, with Australia and Poland being the most severely affected by the change. [68]

All data to the project needs to have a license compatible with the Open Database License. This can include out-of-copyright information, public domain or other licenses. Contributors agree with a current license. This may involve examining licenses for government data.

Software used in the production and presentation of OpenStreetMap data is available from many different projects and each may have its own licensing. The application – what users access to edit and changelogs is powered by Ruby on Rails . The application also uses PostgreSQL for storage of user data and edit metadata. The default map is rendered by Mapnik , stored in PostGIS , and powered by an Apache module called mod_tile . Some parts of the software, such as the map editor Potlatch2 , have been made available as public domain . [69]

Commercial data

Some OpenStreetMap data sources or which sources OSM contributors can trace roads and features.

Notably, Automotive Navigation and data of trunk roads in China and India. In December 2006, Yahoo! OpenStreetMap was able to make use of their aerial imagery and this photography was available within the editing software as an overlay. Their Contributors Could create vector based maps as a derived work, released with a free and open license, [14] up to the shutdown of the Yahoo! Maps API on 13 September 2011. [70] In November 2010, Microsoft announced that the OpenStreetMap community could use Bing vertical aerial imagery as a backdrop in its editors. [71] For a period from 2009 to 2011, NearMap Pty Ltd made their high-resolution PhotoMaps (of major Australian cities, plus some rural Australian areas) available for deriving OpenStreetMap data under a CC BY-SA license. [72]


While OpenStreetMap aims to be a central data source, its map rendering and aesthetics are meant to be only one of many options, some of which highlight different elements of the map or emphasize design and performance.

Data format

OpenStreetMap uses a topological data structure , with four core elements (also known as data primitives ):

  • Nodes are dots with a geographic position, stored as coordinates (peers of a latitude and a longitude ) selon WGS 84 . [73] Outside of their use in ways, they are used to represent features of mountain peaks.
  • Ways are ordered lists of nodes , representing a polyline , or possibly a polygon if they form a closed loop. They are used for such linear features as parks, parking areas and lakes.
  • Relations are ordered lists of nodes, ways and relations, where each member can optionally have a “role” (a string). Relations are used for the relationship of existing nodes and ways. Examples include turns on roads, roads that span several existing ways (for instance, long-distance motorway), and areas with holes.
  • Tags are key-value pairs (both arbitrary strings). They are used to store metadata about the objects and their physical properties. Tags are not free-standing, but are always attached to an object: to a node, a way or a relation. A recommended ontology of map features (the meaning of tags ) is maintained on a wiki .

Data storage

The OSM data primitives are stored and processed in different formats.

The main copy of the OSM is stored in OSM’s main database . The main database is a PostgreSQL database, which has a table for each data primitive, with individual objects stored as rows. [74] All edits happen in this database, and all other formats are created from it.

For data transfer, several database dumps are created, which are available for download. The complete dump is called planet.osm . These dumps exist in two formats, one using XML and one using the Buffer Binary Format (PBF).

The LinkedGeoData [75] data uses the GeoSPARQL and well-known text (WKT) RDF vocabularies to represent OpenStreetMap data. It is a work of the Agile Knowledge Engineering and Semantic Web (AKSW) research group at the University of Leipzig , a group mostly known for DBpedia .

Popular services

Moovit Navigate

A variety of popular services incorporates some sort of geolocation or map-based component. Notable services using OSM for this include:

  • Apple Inc. unexpectedly created an OpenStreetMap-based map for iPhoto for iOS on March 7 , 2012 , and released the maps without properly citing the data source – though this was corrected in 1.0.1. OpenStreetMap is one of the many sources for Apple’s custom maps in iOS 6, though the majority of the data is provided by TomTom .
  • Flickr uses OpenStreetMap data for various cities around the world, including Baghdad , Beijing, Kabul , Santiago, Sydney and Tokyo. [76] [77] [78] In 2012, the maps switched to use Nokia data base, with OSM being used in areas where the commercial provider lacked performance. [79]
  • MapQuest announced a service based on OpenStreetMap in 2010, which eventually became MapQuest Open. [80]
  • On 29 February 2012, Foursquare started using OpenStreetMap via MapBox’s rendering and infrastructure. [81]
  • Craigslist switched to OpenStreetMap in 2012, rendering their own tiles based on the data. [82]
  • In 2015, Mapworks incorporated the OSM Data set for rendering under a vector publication method. This allows basic GIS analysis capabilities to be performed at web clients supporting HTML5 .
  • In September 2009, Hasbro , the toy company behind the real estate-themed board game Monopoly , lancé Monopoly City Streets , a massively multiplayer online game (MMORPG) qui allowed players to “buy” streets all over the world. The game used maps and maps from OpenStreetMap. [84] The online game was a limited time offering, its servers were shut down in the end of January 2010. [84]
  • Moovit uses maps based on OpenStreetMap in their mobile application for public transit navigation. [85]
  • TCDD Taşımacılık uses OpenStreetMap as a location map on passenger seats on YHTs .
  • Wikipedia uses OpenStreetMap data to render custom maps used by the articles. Many languages ​​are included in the WIWOSM project (Wikipedia Where in OSM), which aims to show OSM objects on a slippy map, directly visible on the article page. [86]
  • Wikivoyage uses OpenStreetMap as a locator map for cities and travel points of interest.
  • Dublin -based indie games developer Ballardia launched World of the Dead: Resurrection in October 2013, [87] which has incorporated OpenStreetMap into its game engine, along with census information to create a browser-based mapping over 14,000 square kilometers of greater Los Angeles and survival strategy gameplay. Its previous incarnation had used Google Maps, [88] which had proven incapable of supporting high volumes of players, so during 2013 they shut down the Google Maps version and ported the game to OSM. [89]
  • Geotab uses OpenStreetMap data in their Vehicle Tracking Software platform, MyGeotab. [90]
  • Strava switched to OpenStreetMap rendered and hosted by Mapbox from Google Maps in July 2015. [91]
  • Table has integrated OSM for all their mapping needs. Its been integrated into all of their products.
  • MAPCAT uses the OpenStreetMap database in 2017.

See also

  • Collaborative mapping
  • Comparison of web map services
  • Counter-mapping
  • mapillary
  • Neogeography
  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • Volunteered geographic information
  • Alternatives: Google Map Maker , Wikimapia , Yandex Public Map  ( ru )
  • Mobile applications: Karta GPS , MAPS.ME , OsmAnd , Oruxmaps


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