OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. Two major driving forces behind the establishment and growth of OSM have been restrictions on use or availability of map information across much of the world and the advent of inexpensive portable satellite navigation devices. OSM is considered a prominent example of volunteered geographic information.

-- OpenStreetMap (WP)

Unlike Google Maps, OSM stores and provides map data in a structured form. This means that we don't have to perform feature recognition and editing on map images. Also, with OSM we don't have to worry about proprietary usage restrictions.

Design for America

OSM has some coverage of streets and pathways on the UT Austin campus, but much of the detailed information is incorrect or missing. Fortunately, we have received significant interest from members of the UT Austin chapter of Design for America. We are investigating various ways to collect data, including crowdsourcing of GPS log data and (balloon-based) aerial photography. For details, see Design for America.


It should be possible to offer customized filtering of the displayed features. For example, we could seed a "whitelist" with some popular destinations:

  • Student Activity Center
  • Student Services Building
  • University Co-op
  • University of Texas Libraries

and then allow users to add or remove destinations, as desired. Using the resulting whitelist as a guide, we could make sure to include (only) the most relevant destinations and pathways. This could greatly simplify the map!

OSM and Neo4j

Looking at descriptions of the OSM data model, it struck me that it might be a match for a graph database such as Neo4j. Googling around a bit, I found that I was not the only person to have this idea. So, it may be interesting to play with this for route finding, etc.

This wiki page is maintained by Rich Morin, an independent consultant specializing in software design, development, and documentation. Please feel free to email comments, inquiries, suggestions, etc!

Topic revision: r9 - 24 Nov 2015, RichMorin
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