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Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2019-04
End: 2019-04
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Data and AI


Fix open geodata with OpenStreetMap

The project will make collecting data for OpenStreetMap easier and more efficient. OpenStreetMap is the best source of information for general purpose search engines that need a geographic data about locations and properties of various objects. The objects vary from cities and other settlements to shops, parks, roads, schools, railways, motorways, forests, beaches etc etc etc. The search engine can use the data to answer queries such as "route to nearest wheelchair accessible greengrocer", "list of national parks near motorways" or "London weather". Full OpenStreetMap dataset is publicly available on an open license and already used for many purposes. Improving OSM increases quality of services using open data rather than proprietary datasets kept as a trade secret by established companies.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Everyone needs to find their way around the world, be it traveling for work, taking a vacation or going to the doctor, dentist, your local municipality and other important (public) services. How we move around and where we go is very personal information: imagine following someone for a week and what this can teach you about their life, their loved ones and what is important to them. Now think about the apps or devices you use for navigation and what they can and probably do log about you. Where does this information go, who has access to it, how does this feed into your data profile that is created and sold by tech platforms to businesses (and sometimes governments)?

Navigation shouldn't be yet another underhanded means for tracking and profiling, it should help you get to where you need to be and inform you about your travel, nothing else. OpenStreetMap is a collective effort to build a tool that brings geographic data and navigation into the public space, as an alternative to commercial services. Users help map areas, roads, buildings and other points of interest and keep this information up to date and enrich it. All data is open and free to use.

Navigation works best when you can efficiently search and find exactly where you need to go, even with limited information. StreetComplete is a project that makes it easier for users of OpenStreetMap to optimize, correct and enrich geographical data without the need for technical knowledge or skills. Simply walk around an area and answer survey style questions like "What is the name of this road, what are the opening hours of this shop, is there a cycleway here?" This way users can help keep the geographic data of OpenStreetMap up to date and enrich it with valuable information, for example on the wheelchair accessibility of a street or building. This makes OpenStreetMap a more valuable and more inclusive source for geographic search and navigation.

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This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.