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What is Open Maps? - Despite the availability of various kinds of mapping services, many individuals sometimes wonder why many companies and individuals have chosen to make use of Open Street Map for their mapping needs. Therefore, it is important to let people have a better understanding of this service by answering some of the most common questions. What makes it to be one of the best mapping software available today? What are its basic features?

Launched in 2004 in the UK by Steve Coast, OpenStreetMap is a free, editable map of the world. It is a collaborative project that is practically being executed from time to time by volunteers from different parts of the world. OSM, as it is often called, was created as a mapping model of Wikipedia which allows for the crowdsourcing of information. Although plenty of work has been done on this project in the last 12 years, the map is not fully built yet as work is still ongoing. Some of the companies using this free mapping software include Foursquare, Craigslist, Flickr, Moovit, Evernote, Strava, MapQuest, Apple Inc and Geotab.

Unlike many other mapping services, Open Street Maps allows everyone to enjoy free access to its map imagery by just visiting the official website of the service at OpenStreetMap.org. With the aid of all sorts of devices such as voice recorder, GPS equipments and digital cameras, volunteers are able to contribute information to the Open Street Map database. Government agencies have also contributed immensely to the sources of data being used by this service. Likewise, many commercial organizations are some of the major contributors to the OSM maps. OSM data is provided by uncountable contributors and is made available by the Open data commons under the open database license (ODbL). Before using ODbL, Open Street Maps previously used Creative Common license. This current open data license ensures information can be easily accessed, modified and shared by users. Since this mapping service gets substantial amounts of information from multiple sources, it is frequently updated by various volunteers.

Being one of the major open source maps, this geo mapping software is not owned by anybody as all users have equal rights to its usage. Though a non-profit organization called OpenStreetMap Foundation provides full support for this mapping project, it does not own the map.

There are different ways by which Open Street view can be enjoyed by users. Some of these may include:

  • Web browser – users can visit the official website of Open Street Map to access the mapping service. However, some of the maps may be too complex to understand for certain users.
  • OsmAnd – for users making use of OpenStreetMap iOS app, the maps will be viewed through the help of OsmAnd. Android apps also make use of OsmAnd for viewing the map.

Other Open Street Map viewers are Marble, GNOME maps, Emerillon and Foxtrot GPS.

As an open source mapping software, individuals and companies that are in need of custom maps can make use of MapBox Studio, Mapnik and other software to create their unique maps. To perform this, however, the Open Street Map API meant for editing the maps will be required. There is another set of OpenStreetMap API which is read-only.

Navigation on Open Street Maps depends largely on the platform being used to view the map. If you are using the map via its website, simply click on the map, navigate by holding the left mouse button of your computer and drag it in the preferred direction. You can also zoom in and zoom out the map to get a clearer and better view. If you would like to use OpenStreetMap offline on your computer, you need to download the map. You can also utilize iOS and Android apps that have the offline mode of this mapping software. There are other ways by which you can use this service offline.


What is Open Street Map?

OpenStreetMap is an open source mapping service mainly established to provide a free editable map of different parts of the world. Alternatively, when asked "what is OSM (OpenStreetMap)? Simply refer to it as an amazing and functional collection of geo-data which is presented to the world to be used for free.

Are Open Street Maps routable?

Yes, OpenStreetMap is routable. The mapping service added route functionality in February, 2015 to further increase its usage and the experience of users. MapQuest, GraphHopper and OSRM are the 3 external parties powering this route planning functionality.

Why use OpenStreetMap?

There are a number of reasons why OpenStreetMap is now being used by many people and businesses. One of the main reasons is that it provides multiple images of the same location; hence, users have the option of comparing different shots. Furthermore, when compared to other mapping services, it offers more frequent updates. When it comes to who uses OpenStreetMap, you may be quite surprised by some of the organization, which include Strava & Foursquare. From individuals to small businesses and large enterprises, different parties make use of OpenStreetMap.

What prediction does Open Street Maps use?

OpenStreetMap uses the prediction obtained from various users of the service. These users can be individuals or organizations.

Are Open Street Maps any good?

While it is not currently as effective as some of the popular mapping services available, OpenStreetMap is a good mapping service. Without a doubt, OpenStreetMap has been a positive contribution to many individuals and organizations.

Are Open Maps continuous?

Yes, OpenStreetMap is continuous as it supports ongoing improvement of quality and quantity of data presented to users. This service also supports continuous stream of development or changes in different areas.

How to put OpenStreetMap on Garmin?

To put OpenStreetMap directly on Garmin, put your device to USB mass storage mode. Find a directory called Map or Garmin; if these directories do not exist, create a new directory. Now, copy the gmapsupp.img file(s) into the directory. Apart from the USB mass storage mode, you can also use MapSource or sendmap options to put OpenStreetMap on Garmin.

How to use OpenStreetMap with Garmin?

If you would like to use OpenStreetMap with Garmin, you can do so by making use of MapSource. In MapSource, select your map in the drop-down menu, and choose tiles (using the yellow polygon which is meant for the mapping function). Click on the blue arrow to send to GPS and the map can be used with Garmin device.

How to use OpenStreetMap in Android?

Using OpenStreetMap in Android requires a couple of steps to be taken. Firstly, there are certain libraries that allow the use of OpenStreetMap in Android and they include Mapsforge and Osmdroid. Using Osmdroid, download the map tiles and move the file to the Osmdroid library. The last thing to do is adding MapView to your xml layout. With all these steps taken, you can use OpenStreetMap in Android.

How does OpenStreetMap work?

OpenStreetMap simply works as an open data source that gives everyone access to its information. It uses an Open Database License which ensures all sets of data inputted by a person or company can be viewed or used by other users. This mapping service gets its data from various users who are given the privileges to make necessary edits. However, each edit submitted has to be reviewed before it becomes officially available to other users. All these processes have contributed to make OpenStreetMap readily accessible anywhere in the world.

How to contribute to OpenStreetMap?

Everybody has the chance to contribute to Open Street Map. As an open data source, OpenStreetMap allows all users to contribute their quota to the development of the mapping service. Notably, many of the contributors are GIS experts. However, the contribution of each user will be first reviewed before it is made available to other users; this is just to verify the authenticity of each contribution. To contribute, you need to register and get approved to do so.

How to use OpenStreetMap?

Using OpenStreetMap depends on the device on which you are using it. And in some cases, you may need MapBox or MapKit to fully utilize OSM. OpenStreetMap can also be used directly by visiting the official website (www.openstreetmap.org) of the service.

Who owns OpenStreetMap?

Though OpenStreetMap was established in 2004 by Steve Coast, the service is actually owned by nobody in particular. Its data and software is collectively under the control of all contributors; therefore, no individual owns OpenStreetMap. It should be noted that there is an organization named the OpenStreetMap Foundation which provides supports for the Open Street Map project. Nevertheless, the OpenStreetMap Foundation does not own OpenStreetMap.

Are Google Maps open source?

No, Google Maps is not open source. Basically, Google Maps and other Google-related mapping technologies are owned by Google; therefore, any mapping data viewed, edited or submitted by any user is directly one of the properties of Google.

Where to download Open Street Maps?

Though there are several ways by which OpenStreetMap can be downloaded, the best and simplest way is to download from the official website (www.openstreetmap.org) of the service. There is a download section where users can download OpenStreetMap.

How to use the OpenStreetMap API?

The primary OpenStreetMap API is meant for editing map data. Nonetheless, users must adhere to basic rules and regulations of using the API or else they will be restricted from using it. There are also other APIs that are for read-only purposes.

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