OpenStreetMap is Having a Moment →November 20, 2020 • #
My friend Joe Morrison wrote an excellent piece on the current state of corporate investment in OpenStreetMap:
The four companies in the inner circle — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft — have a combined market capitalization of over six trillion dollars.¹ In almost every other setting, they are mortal enemies fighting expensive digital wars of attrition. Yet they now find themselves eagerly investing in and collaborating on OSM at an unprecedented scale (more on the scale later).
The post references Jennings Anderson’s analysis of corporate contributions to the project (check out the paper), which has skyrocketed in the past couple of years. Mapbox was an early major contributor, but not the first. But what blew my mind from Jennings’s talk from State of the Map was the scale that teams at Apple and Amazon have achieved in not just use of OSM, but also contributions back to the data. Just look at the number of users on Apple’s data team.
I haven’t kept up with the latest happenings in OSM over the last couple years, but corporate involvement (or any kind of official involvement taking the project beyond hobbyists) is ultimately healthy for the growth of the project. It seems like the scale and quality has expanded over the last 5 years to “irreplicable” levels for everyone except the larget players (ahem, Google).
My prediction is that automated extraction is going to overtake a still-unknown but major chunk of imagery-to-map tracing style mapping. There are still lots of corrections and details that are hard to detect by imagery, but projects like RAPiD are super interesting.
- Weekend Reading: Looking Glass Politics, Enrichment, and OSM Datasets — Gurri on private vs. public emotions, McCloskey on the boom of modern progress, and Facebook's work on OpenStreetMap data.
- Weekend Reading: Blot, Hand-Drawn Visualizations, and Megafire Detection — A new blogging tool, the complexity of hand-drawn visualizations, and detecting wildfires from satellites.
- Weekend Reading: Strasburg Tipping, RapiD, and TikTok Investigation — Stephen Strasburg tipping pitches, mapping with AI, and ByteDance under CFIUS investigation.