Does the world need an Augmented Reality safety layer?

Given the recent events, I hope you’ll agree with me that the concept of Augmented Reality has reached the general public with a vengeance. That video game based on a popular franchise has gone mainstream, and people of all ages are using geolocation data in their leisure time for uses other than route finding.

The bad news is that the public at large seemed to be not fully prepared for such development. News agencies reports of careless behaviors by the game players, which so far are merely anecdotal but could soon lead to tragic outcomes. People are playing the game in risky or socially unacceptable ways, such as walking into streets reserved for road traffic, playing in religious and cultural sites, creating large gatherings near private homes, and so on.

This happens in part because the videogame is generating its context-aware hot spots based on POIs that were created for informative purposes, but were not expected to be used in the make-believe context of a game. While I’m sure that the developers of that particular game will soon learn to fix its most egregious problems, the cat is now out of the bag. Other developers will create their own augmented reality games and applications, and they won’t have the resources of a big publisher to make their applications safe for their users.

Could OpenStreetMap provide a public service to solve the problem, in the spirit of open knowledge? I’m thinking of a dedicated information layer annotating the real world with the acceptable uses of Augmented Reality, which AR developers could tap into for building suitable activities for each area. It should be primarily concerned with places where bystanders should be specially aware of their surroundings (such as roads, uneven terrain and areas of restricted access), but it could also include the expected social uses of public spaces.

As an occasional OSM editor, I’m unaware of the dynamics of this community. What would be the best place to propose the creation of this information layer, and the best way to get it bootstraped and annotated collaboratively by OSM editors?

IMHO, OSM is about the things you see on the ground. So when there is a street, it will be mapped in OSM. When there is an area with restricted access, it will be mapped with the appropriate access tags, etc. This data can be used by any AR-game provider.

As for your “expected social uses”, I can image we could invent a tag “ar-gaming”=“no” or so via the known way to propose new tags.
But of course we can only map this when we can survey this on the ground, i.e. when there are signs. We are not going to tag each motorway or cliff with ar-gaming=no.

Everything else is up to the game providers. Or a provider that takes OSM, adds “a layer” and distributes this to the AR dev community.

P.S. OSM has no “layers”, all data is on the “same level/layer”.

Thanks escada. A collection of tags for each area might work for this purpose, but I imagine something more like the Cycle Map and Humanitarian modes that can be accessed through the Layer button at, or maybe as an overlay. How are those stored in the database, and who’s the provider of that information?

The cycle map and humanitarian maps are using the same database as everyone else, they just choose what tags they wish to present and how they wish to present them. The data is created the same as any other data in the database, by the same volunteer mappers.

For example, when mapping a street I may note that it has bicycle lanes in addition to other information (motor vehicle lanes in each direction, motor vehicle speed limit, surface, street lighting, etc.). The standard OSM map does not show all that. But the bicycle people really care if the street has bicycle lanes so they emphasize them. Routing software cares if the maxspeed is tagged or if the road is unsurfaced/unpaved/dirt, so there are maps available that show which streets have speed limits tagged or not, have surface tagging or not, etc., that can be used for QA.