There Must be a Pony in there Somewhere

A few weeks ago I attended a presentation on the Open Street Map project. It’s essentially the open source equivalent of Google Maps, where community members go out with GPS units (an iPhone will do) and map key feature (streets, buildings, etc.). This is often done in “mapping parties”, community events where many people go out and do this for a few hours, then reconvene and socialize.

The project benefits from publicly available base data (in the U.S. that means the Federal-goverment-supplies Tiger data). They’ll use any data that can be freely redistributed without restriction (which sadly, does NOT include all the lovely data over at Metro).

Since the presentation, I’ve been wondered what our community could go out and map that would enhance our transportation choices. The street network is pretty well filled-in, so what could we add? Here are a few ideas:

  • Every cab stand
  • The amenity level of every bus stop (I suspect TriMet has this but they don’t expose it, they only publish the GPS coordinates)
  • Every Zipcar location (again, Zipcar clearly has it, but is it available for 3rd party apps to use?)
  • ALL bike parking (the City is planning to generate this for corrals and other major facilities, but it won’t be available for a year – but I’ll be we could get every single staple in the region

If we could find a bicycle trip-planner that would employ the data, I’m sure the bike community could provide a detailed assessment of the bike-ability of every single street segment in the region.

I’m sure creative people can come up with more ideas. What are yours?

And just because it’s cool, here’s an animation showing all the data that was added to the project in 2008:

2 responses to “There Must be a Pony in there Somewhere”

  1. Open Street Maps rocks!

    While I was living in Honduras I spent some time with my GPS mapping the town and integrating it into the OSM system:

    I think open mapping like this is revolutionary for developing countries where commercial maps are non-existant, though as Chris notes, the open nature of the system lets anyone do whatever they want with the data. If cyclists dumped as much cycle-related data into the system as they could, the possibilities are big.

  2. The amenity level of every bus stop

    Its not in the Google Transit data? Also, I’ve noticed that OSM has the complete Elmonica and Ruby Jct rail yards mapped, as well as some parking lots and at least one McDonald’s Drive Through. And the interface looks just like the one TriMet is using on their new interactive map.

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