It’s very interesting observing and participating in the OpenStreetMap community .. it’s one of the most frustrating and inspiring groups I’ve ever come across. The past couple days have seen a long thread on the use of OGC standards and compliant tools in OSM, something that comes up with remarkable periodicity and some unnecessary hostility from both “sides”. OSM is not anti-standards at all, in fact uses PostGIS in a limited way right now, but it’s such a unique and new idea that most of the infrastructure has been built with agility, under quick iterations of home grown tools. Traditional GIS never conceived of a system where map creation was open to everyone. There are complete non-geographers (neo- if you wish) and some folks with a good deal of history in GIS .. and as a community we rediscover the conventional wisdom just as often as we overturn it. I’d personally love to have a WFS-T interface to OSM, opening up to whole new suites of tools .. but actually very few find it workable, even the Ordnance Survey has been looking at alternatives (something I hope to talk about soon). Back to thread .. towards the end it calmed down and several people articulated well the “OSM approach”. Bravo.
In the mean time, the commercial data providers continue to move towards OSM approaches. Navteq has launched Map Reporter for users to feedback map errors (it’s the number one customer service request with online maps and navigation systems). It’s definitely a more usable tool than the similar TeleAltas MapInsight. I was easily able to report one of the dozen or so errors within a half kilometer, a missing alley, and can even share my report with everyone. This alley is of course accurately, and the whole area in my opinion more beautifully, represented in OSM for the area (try the osmarender layer for the most detailed view). But for Navteq to be successful, it really needs much more transparency, otherwise these submissions enter a blackhole, without engagement .. what is Navteq’s schedule for looking at these submissions; when is the next surveyor coming around; how many other people have reported the same error; and what’s the benefit for contributing. For OpenStreetMap, I think we can learn that in the future we’ll need multiple levels of engagement .. some people won’t want to invest the time to edit the map itself, but are happy to report errors, and we’ll need an interface for that.
Btw, I’ll be talking about these things and more tomorrow night at the Sussex Geek Dinner.