Wikipedia is one of the Web’s biggest success stories as a crowdsourced encyclopedia anyone can edit. A few other groups have extended the idea to maps, the Associated Press (News - Alert) reports.
When an iPhone (News - Alert) app for the Waze mapping service device told him to take a turn in Wyoming onto a road that didn’t exist, programmer Benjamin Gleitzman didn’t hurl the device out of the window to never use it again, but instead actually edited the map himself.
Waze is a Tel-Aviv-based startup that’s derived from an earlier open source project, freemap. It has over 14 million users, more than one million alone in its home country of Israel. Around 45,000 of them are dedicated to editing the maps, while another 5,000 act as “regional managers.”
“I can see that it gets incrementally better every day,” Gleitzman said. He said that he depends on the app to help him navigate San Francisco’s daunting traffic. The app tracks drivers’ speed and locations, and can help them avoid potential snags on their commutes.
“Our goal in life is to save you five minutes a day on your way to work,” Waze CEO Noam Bardin told AP. He said that although they need more contributions, “this is going to be the way to map the world.”
Another project, OpenStreetMap, more closely resembles Wikipedia’s nonprofit, collaborative community model. The project, which bills itself as “The Free Wiki World Map” was started in the early 2000s by a British programmer. Anyone can contribute to the world map for free as the way can edit a Wikipedia article. The process is a bit more involved: a group of users verify the data entered into the maps by using GPS devices. Volunteers have already logged over 2.7 million GPS points around the world.
OpenStreetMap has already had some high-profile uses. Relief workers helping victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake relied on it to provide up-to-date information on local conditions, as well as editing them in real time. It was also used to map the devastation caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Apart from disaster relief, Foursquare (News - Alert) recently announced they were switching from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap for their service, allowing users to broadcast their locations. “We're delighted to see another prominent map user make the switch,” Jonathan Bennett, an OpenStreetMap contributor who’s used used the service himself to map his favorite mountain biking trails, wrote on one of their official blogs.
It’s also apparently used in Apple’s (News - Alert) new iPhoto app for the iPad, though the company hasn’t confirmed this.
Edited by Jennifer Russell