Breakfast with IRLOGI!

Wed 30th May 2012

Three members of our GIS team recently attended an IRLOGI breakfast is Eoin's account of the morning:

On Thursday 17th of May, myself, Aisling East and William McCann attended an Irlogi breakfast briefing about OpenStreetMap (OSM). It was held in Chartered Accountant’s House, in Dublin. The event was hosted by Richard Cantwell, a committee member of IRLOGI and member of the OpenStreetMap Foundation, and Dermot McNally, a board member of the OpenStreetMap Foundation.

OSM, for those of you who haven’t heard of it, is an Open Source worldwide map, which can be both used, and edited by the public at large. On the day we were first given an Overview of the project, its history and development, and how it is used. They then went on to discuss how the data can be used within other GIS environments, how many other organisations are now using the data, and what they are using it for.

It was created in 2004 as a student project which has now grown to such an extent that it now has 550,000 registered editors. The Map data is generally created by volunteers using handheld GPS devices, and from other open source datasets. Users now have permission to use Yahoo and Bing maps for example. Some commercial companies have also donated data.

OSM has been used for humanitarian reasons, most notably in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, when volunteers mapped the roads, buildings and refugee camps around Port-Au-Prince in just two days.

A sign of the growth of the project is that numerous websites are now embedding their maps instead of Google Maps, including OSM is also used in the creation of many Apps. Even Apple have recently used OSM to create maps for its iPhoto App.

It was great to see how good an Open Source project can be, and that it could compete and even flourish against big corporate giants like Google Earth. Overall it was a very interesting briefing, and an eye opener to the capability of Open Source data.

Eoin Comerford