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the mapping challenge

Over a year ago, I was “inspired” by a BBC News report about OpenStreetMap – it was about a mapping party, which was held in Atlanta (a large city located in the southeastern part of the United States). They planned to make the said place “the world’s most digitally mapped city“. According to the said report, approximately 200 volunteers will map out various parts of the city from 15 – 20 “mapping stations”. I think everyone in Team OSM is happy because of that – they’re starting from freeways and motorways, then on to other major roads, then on to smaller roads. If that part is done, they can go map the points of interest, like pubs, schools, churches, museums and restaurants. Although the mapping party ended over 18 months ago, efforts to update and verify the data, and promoting the map are ongoing.

Since then, I’ve decided to turn a large area encompassing San Pablo City, Los Baños and other areas in between into some of CALABARZON’s most digitally mapped areas. I’ve managed to get some alleys and eskinitas on the map, and they aren’t on Google Maps. One piece of the OSM jewel is accurate names for most streets. The other one is node overload – which means adding nodes representing amenities, like restaurants, internet cafe’s, and at least two make that three famous/infamous trees. The former jewel is shining in both San Pablo and Los Baños, while the latter is implemented in the Grove, Silangan Road area, the Raymundo area and other areas in Los Baños, while simultaneously doing it in San Pablo City. (Just a reminder – Google Maps may have superior coverage and better name recall, but OpenStreetMap has an advantage that Mapmaker moderators try to flush down the drain – correcting and verifying the data in near-real time. In some cases, I’ve even added POI’s, even if those places are yet to be opened. Do note that some POI’s in Google Maps are either misspelled, have different names from reality, or do not exist)

But the secret recipe to my stew is this – buildings, housenumbers and landuse in the middle of San Pablo City.

Before I got my GPS, I added a bunch of buildings in Metro Manila through Yahoo! Aerial Imagery. Sadly, some of those buildings that I added were either obscured by cloud cover, not in its coverage area, or the imagery was considered more or less obsolete in some places (like the SM Mall of Asia Complex and Fort Bonifacio). The good news is that there are dedicated mappers out there to add more detail to the map that we all love, especially in places that have crappy aerial coverage, regardless if those places are inside or outside the metropolis.

However, San Pablo City used is a different story. No aerial imagery, just GPS traces and usually less-than-refined guesswork. But those obstacles aren’t a problem. I already added over 20 buildings within San Pablo City, and at least two outside the city limits without the help of aerial imagery. Not only that, I added more landuse and housenumbers and other things that need to be mapped.

Since Microsoft allowed OpenStreetMap to use Bing aerial imagery for tracing, I was excited since it covers a good part of southern Luzon. (Plus, it has newer aerial images than Yahoo!) What surprised me is that Bing extended its coverage a month after they initially allowed OSM to trace over its aerial images. Luckily, San Pablo City and most of Laguna are covered by the new aerial images. Since then, I’ve been realigning and tracing a lot of amenities, shops, buildings and various Map Features. Compared to three years ago when San Pablo City was depicted as an area with a bunch of roads with little or no POI’s, the city is on its way to becoming one of the most mapped areas in the country.

Other links

OpenStreetMap in Fox News

Map of Atlanta (OpenStreetMap):


One response to “the mapping challenge

  1. tutubi

    to make Laguna the most digitally-mapped province in PH 😛

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