OSM x GM's "glitch"

Posted by GOwin on 8 June 2017 in English (English)

I just finished reading Side-by-side images expose a glitch in Google’s maps which highlights some shortcomings of Google Maps (GM), which the writer call as "glitches".

I find that amusing because I often hear the same assertions against OSM. Immediately, I wondered how the OSM community is faring in those same areas:

Morro dos Prazeres

image © 2017 & Geofabrik GmbH - map data (©) contributors

Makoko, Lagos

image © 2017 & Geofabrik GmbH - map data (©) contributors

Nomgon, Ömnögovi Province, Gobi

image © 2017 & Geofabrik GmbH - map data (©) contributors

Fitri, Chad

image © 2017 & Geofabrik GmbH - map data (©) contributors

So, is OSM, at large - and in those specific areas, doing any better than GM, right now? No, not really. Not yet.

We all know that it's the local community that makes the real difference, and it's unlikely there's any active ones there, hence the very bare coverage.

In the long run, as soon as these areas do get better data, the Open nature of the data license provided by OSM makes it superior to what GM may offer.

While the article decries about the lack of data, and call these communities "invisible" from GM (and their end-users.) The writer may not have known why OSM is the platform of choice by many humanitarian organizations.

When communities recognize the need to become "visible" by being depicted in public maps, to have a voice in governance, they are very welcome to do so in OSM. The community mapping efforts of the Kibera project in Nairobi, Kenya, its empowerment of the community that's called the largest slum in Africa proves that. And that effort is happening in many nooks and corners all over the world. External actors could introduce OSM mapping, but it can only be sustained by an active community of contributors and end-users.

image Kibera - from blank spot, to one of the most densest mapped neighbourhoods in OSM today. © 2017 © contributors

As a commercial enterprise, GM cannot be faulted for their underlying (commercial) reasons for doing things.

In OSM, I'd like to think we map simply because we can.

Location: Alvir Compound, Little Baguio, Isabelita, District 2, San Juan, Metro Manila, 1500, Philippines

Comment from Vincent de Phily on 9 June 2017 at 16:36

The Rio de Janeiro favelas should be good candidates for a resident-led slum mapping, like happened in Kibera. I wonder if there are big OSM contributors living in Rio who could mentor this.

Comment from GOwin on 9 June 2017 at 23:53

There are a good number of experienced mappers around that region, with a good number of editing activities, but not in this particular favela:

OOOC. © Pascal Neis . Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, under ODbL.

image Who did it? © Simon Legner. Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, under ODbL.

Comment from Peter Bremer on 21 June 2017 at 13:32

Sadly, the images all link to the default Berlin view of To get the proper URL to link to, you should click the "Share" link in the bottom right, and copy the URL from there.

Comment from GOwin on 22 June 2017 at 01:58

@Peter Bremer

Thank you for actually checking out the links, and bringing this to my attention. It's been fixed now. I appreciate the feedback.

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