The OpenStreetMap Alternative

Something must have gotten into the drinking water, because OpenStreetMap is getting all kinds of press lately, where it’s portrayed as a no-cost alternative to more costly map data. Dan Sung has an interview with OSM founder Steve Coast that opens with this interesting nugget:

If you purchase a TomTom, approximately 20-30% of that cost goes to Tele Atlas who licenses the maps that TomTom and many other hardware manufacturers use. Part of that charge is because Tele Atlas itself, and the company’s main rival Navteq, have to buy the data from national mapping agencies in the first place, like the Ordance Survey, and then stitch all the information together. Hence the consumer having to pay on a number of levels.

The expense of mainstream mapping data, along with the long interval between updates, is the focus of this piece. Wired’s Gadget Lab focuses on adding maps to a GPS unit, which, of course, is a good deal cheaper with OSM than with a GPS manufacturer’s map updates. Among other things, Priya Ganapati’s article notes that you article notes that you can download OSM maps to a Garmin receiver, but not to a TomTom, which uses a proprietary format. Both via mapperz: 1, 2.

My own village is woefully undermapped in OSM. I may have to do something about that.

Previously: The Guardian on OpenStreetMap.