The Maze Meltdown and Maps in the SF Chronicle .. We need a sustainable approach!

It’s great to see the San Francisco Chronicle take on the issue of disconnect between the real world and its representation in maps. I get quoted from the very weblog you’re now reading, thanks to a reference from Brady :).

Yahoo, Google, MapQuest and others have scrambled and updated their maps after the Maze Meltdown, which is cool, but also disappointing that the only time this issue is taken seriously is when there’s a high profile incident in Silicon Valley’s backyard. Parallels to the search for Jim Gray when everyone jumped in with some piece of technology to conduct the search. On the one hand, amazing what can be accomplished when everyone starts to cooperate .. but disappointing that it doesn’t last beyond to help millions of people around the world whose lives are disrupted by natural and humanitarian disasters.

OpenStreetMap is a collaborative approach to making maps, which trusts everyone to build up maps from their own local knowledge .. it can roughly be thought of as Wikipedia for maps. Because it’s distributed, Jesse could have updated the map of Mississippi post-Katrina over a year and a half ago. And the hundreds of thousands of other errors in commercial and government data providers could be corrected as soon as they’re noticed. As far as I can see, an OpenStreetMap like approach is the only way forward.