Monday, July 28, 2014

Mapping the Growth of OpenStreetMap

OSM Then and Now allows you to view OpenStreetMap coverage around the world in 2007 side-by-side with today's OpenStreetMap.

OpenStreetMap was started in the UK in 2004. OSM Then and Now shows that by 2007 OpenStreetMap was still a largely European project. By 2007 European cities, such as London, Amsterdam and Berlin had been comprehensively mapped. Conversely coverage in the rest of the world was very patchy and practically non-existent in most countries.

Even in many European cities OSM in 2007 was nowhere near as comprehensive as it is now. The screenshot above shows the map of Paris. You can clearly see that in 2007 (on the left) although the road map was fairly detailed the map was largely free of points of interest, building plots and other map features.

However Paris in 2007 was still mapped in far more detail than say Washington D.C.. In 2007 Washington D.C. did have a few major roads mapped but the sparse coverage meant that OSM in 2007 could never really have been used to navigate the US capital.

Because OSM is a crowd-sourced project its growth depends on its ability to attract active members. The Stats page on the OpenStreetMap Wiki has some useful information on the rising popularity of OSM. Back in 2007 OSM had less than 50,000 members. It is now quickly approaching 2 million registered users.

In 2011 Skobbler created this nice timelapse video showing the growth of OpenStreetMap coverage in Europe. The video shows the growth of OSM in Europe between 2006 and 2011.
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