489 Pages about OpenStreetMap

by Pascal Neis - Published: March 24th, 2015

The first book about the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project was written by Frederik Ramm and Jochen Topf, two well-known OSM enthusiasts, in 2008. The first version was in German which was later translated into an improved English version. It contains similar information as can be found in the book by Jonathan Bennett, which was published in 2010, detailing how the projects’ geodata is collected, which editors can be used, some explanations about tags, key and values and how the rendering stack works. Both books are great resources to learn about the OSM basics and to get an overview about useful software.

However, besides these more technical books, the research community has been very active in recent years and has published several articles about OSM data quality, conflation attempts with other datasets or about the contributors of the project. Each of us (Dennis Zielstra and I) wrote a dissertation with different aspects about crowd-sourced geodata and the OSM project: Dennis’ work is about OSM data quality in comparison to proprietary and governmental data with emphasis on pedestrian shortest path routing and data imports. Pascal’s work tackled the issue of how user-generated geodata can be utilized for disabled people friendly route planning. Both dissertations contain more than 13 publications in total.

Now the important part for you: Both dissertations are now freely available. You can download Dennis’ work here and Pascal’s thesis hereCombined more than “480” pages about the OpenStreetMap project!

What can you expect from our dissertations? Our work had to be more science oriented (after all they had to fulfill the strict guidelines our universities gave us to get the PhD). This means it contains a bunch of information that can be useful to other researchers; for example, methods to analyze geodata quality or an introduction on parameters that are important for disabled people in a road network. However, we always tried to make the results and findings always as understandable to the general public as possible. We always felt that VGI research about an open source project such as OSM should not only generate results that are so convoluted that only a hand-full of researchers worldwide would understand the concepts in the end. Any OSM contributor should have a benefit from the findings that are published in those dissertations and we hope we accomplished this goal. We also wished we could have published each publication in open source journals to make the results freely available to everyone but this is a whole new topic for a different blog post. Anyway, by providing the dissertations for free we basically accomplished this task now too.

And what can you not you expect from our work? We do not describe how your object of interest should be tagged or how you should run a mapping event. We feel there are already enough sources out there that tackle these issues.

Anyway, we bet that you will find some information in the dissertations about the OSM project which you have not heard about yet, such as the evolution of the German or the United States OSM street network, analyses about data imports or several research projects about contributor behavior, vandalism detection and a quite comprehensive overview about recent developments and future trends in VGI research in general.

Let us know what you think and enjoy the information overload 🙂

Dennis & Pascal (@pascal_n)