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OSM SURE

This was originally written months before the headline-grabbing announcements of certain companies and institutions regarding their switch to OpenStreetMap. It is primarily intended for mappers who want to improve OpenStreetMap data. For businesses and other entities who want to switch to OpenStreetMap, go to switch2osm.org.

A few months ago, Google Maps introduced usage limits to its API and plans to charge users who go beyond a certain limit (say 25,000 map loads per day) starting this month. According to one of their tweets, only the top 0.35% of its users will have to use the Maps API Premier License, which costs a lot of cash. Despite their reassurance, some Google Maps users (especially small and medium enterprises) have either shifted to or considering shifting to Google Maps’ alternatives. One of them is OpenStreetMap.

Because we are seen by some current Google Maps users as a viable alternative, OpenStreetMap contributors should add and improve the data so that we can be of use to them.

This is where “OSM SURE” comes in.

OSM SURE is a strategy that encourages current OpenStreetMap contributors to improve data gathering and encoding for the use of the general public and other interested entities, like small and medium enterprises.

But first…

Why SURE?

SURE is an acronym for Searchable, Usable, Reliable and Efficient – four characteristics that make a product or service stand out from the rest.

Searchable means that you can find certain goods, products or services while using the map, while Usable means that you can use it for practically every application from finding the nearest pizza parlor to finding your way towards that new seafood restaurant. Reliable means that you know that you’re using an updated map compared to other online and offline maps while Efficient means that you or your company will have better productivity and have less time spent on other stuff (like delays and re-routing).

For OpenStreetMap contributors, OSM SURE means that you’ll add, maintain and update relevant data. Lots and lots of it.

The SURE Strategy

To ensure that we meet the searchable standard,

Some examples of places that meet the Searchable standard are the Scout area in Quezon City, Ortigas district in Pasig and most of General Santos City.

To ensure that we meet the usable standard,

  • Add opening hours tags to let other people know the opening and/or closing time of certain amenities and shops. An example of this are some restaurants inside the SM Mall of Asia complex.
  • Add atm=* tags to let other people know if a certain branch or extension office of a bank has an automated teller machine or not.
  • Add smoking tags to let other people know if this place is friendly for smokers or not.
  • Use relevant tags. For example, you shouldn’t tag government offices and townhalls as museums.

To ensure that we meet the reliable standard,

  • We should learn to prioritize certain places of interest over others. (Example: Restaurants for the hungry, toilets for the constipated, ATM machine for those who need extra cash, etc.)
  • Don’t tag for the renderer
  • Clean up your own mistakes. If this is not possible, unattainable or too complicated, ask for help in the mailing list. (Besides, we appreciate your effort in improving that map coverage in your area)
  • As much as possible, follow good practices done by other mappers (a partial list of such practices can be found here)
  • Make sure that you update the data once in a while (preferably every 2 months). As much as possible, try to omit certain data. (One example of “too much information” can be found here)
  • Tag appropriately. Don’t know which tag to use? Go here.
  • Test data for routing errors. (For more info on routing, go here)

To ensure that we meet the efficient standard,

  • Optimize routing if possible. You can do this by adding speed limits through maxspeed tags, adding lit street through lit tags, adding road surface by adding surface tags, and other useful tags.
  • Add access restrictions and barriers. That may save you from a lot of problems, especially delays.

Take note that there are other examples of adding and modifying data that meet such standards.

Again, we can help you out if certain errors are made during editing sessions. Besides, we want everyone to benefit from your efforts.

Conclusion

Since many small and medium enterprises want a more reliable and affordable alternative to Google Maps and the like, we believe that the best way to make the map worthy of their use is to improve the data. The OSM SURE Strategy is one of many thinkable ways to constructively improve the current data.

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