Can OpenStreetMap Overthrow the Google Maps Hegemony?

A recent long-read describes the current state of the competition for primacy in the world of online mapping tools. The champ—Google Maps. The challenger—OpenStreetMap.

Paul Swayers begins a recent article by describing just how pervasive Google’s many apps and technologies are in today’s world—before examining OpenStreetMap as a possible alternative to Google Maps.

According to Sayers, OpenStreetMap has had some high-profile victories lately, with multiple popular apps choosing OSM to drive their technology. “In recent times, OSM has hit the headlines on a number of occasions, often when a well-known tech-brand adopts the open-source mapping platform instead of Google. Foursquare ditched Google Maps back in 2012 for the OpenStreetMap-powered MapBox, Craigslist uses it for apartment searches, while the mighty Apple has turned to OpenStreetMap data too…”

Moreover, users are quickly turning to OSM. “Today, OpenStreetMap has in the region of 1.5 million registered editors, representing a hockey stick-style growth over the past 18 months…there were only around 650,000 registered users in August 2012.”

Sawyer’s article quotes Serge Wroclawski, an OpenStreetMapper and “self-proclaimed ethical hacker,” who recently wrote an article called “Why the World Needs OpenStreetMap.” The key point, according to Wroclawski, centers on the issue of ‘owning’ location. “[As] a society, no one company should have a monopoly on place, just as no one company had a monopoly on time in the 1800s. Place is a shared resource, and when you give all that power to a single entity, you are giving them the power not only to tell you about your location, but to shape it.”

Full Story: The rise of OpenStreetMap: A quest to conquer Google’s mapping empire


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