Why does the USA currently lag in OSM map quality?
This started over in the HELP section, moved here because it’s more discussion oriented. Origin: https://help.openstreetmap.org/questions/40887/new-mapper-osmand-nav-error-looking-at-an-intersection-for-potential-error
To summarize, I found some OSMand navigation errors and then discovered a huge U.S. post office wasn’t in the OSM data at all, despite it being very large (easily seen from the sat photos - with a huge building, huge parking lot, etc.), and being very long established. As a new OSM person I was somewhat amazed that type of data was missing? Assumed, incorrectly, that like OCR has progressed that mappers including OSM would easily extract that from the SAT bitmaps automatically? And of all users of maps in the USA, wouldn’t the USPS be right at the top???)
I’m also posting this in the general section of this Forum to be sure to get some NON USA input, best practice tips, etc. Please bear with me, I’m new. If this has all been discussed Ad nauseam please just point me to the link(s), faqs, etc. Personally, I intend to be helpful, and do what I can to help push OSM forward.
I have not broken this down into separate postings because the entire discussion probably doesn’t need to be that extensive. As a new person I’m just trying to establish “the current state of affairs”, get acclimated to current OSM reality, etc.
Totally appreciate all the comments and info, and giving some serious thought to why is OSM USA data in it’s current state? And, why is getting public and private volunteers apparently such a challenge in the USA?
Q1 Is there anything in OSM licensing, ownership, stewardship, control, etc. that U.S. participants would be turned off or possibly inhibited by? Looks free, open source, no license issues to me. What are the “objections”? Are certain U.S. commercial interests hurt? Who stands to loose economically by OSM? In my mind a central, open map database is a huge win for all users, a massive cost savings. Really the best way to have great data is having everyone correct it, and keep it up to the minute current.
Q2 Pondering who are the biggest value beneficiaries of OSM data being fully up to date and well maintained? Is it retail shops owned by national chains? (Drives sales?) Utilities (“call before you dig” type participants)? Regional government? Package delivery (USPS, UPS, FedX…) Taxi cab / local delivery drivers? Here, I pondered the “highest and best use” of map data are probably property tax assessors (collect revenue by land owned and need “pure” data). Census track (block level) data collectors? Strikes me as plenty of organizations have well developed and critical mapping functions internal to their organizations, won’t those evolve to use OSM if that data could be the best, top quality, lowest cost, easiest to use?
Q3 Wondering in other areas (I understand parts of EU are very well represented in quality OSM data) how did they get such good data? Did the area governmental resources contribute more? Was it a grass roots volunteer effort? Who enjoyed participating and were “at the front of the line” helping? Why hasn’t that been going so well in the U.S.?
Q4 What is the state of automated mapping tools at OSM? For instance, can’t roof lines (vectors) be abstracted directly from bitmap satellite images? Can’t lot boundary maps be imported from taxing authorities? Can’t street addresses (street numbers) be likewise imported from the tax authorities? Anyone able to AUTOMATICALLY convert meets and bounds type legal descriptions (pins, compass directions, distances) to lat / long nodes right off the deed transaction / easement records (now typically searchable PDFs). How does Zillow have lot lines?
Q5 Can OSMand software record navigation planned vs. actual route(s) taken? (If the route taken actual times (each node recorded at regular intervals and time/date stamped) conflicts with the navigation route “planned” can that provide an automatic closed feedback loop such that the navigation planning system can learn better routes over time? Lots of actual experience data collected to inform routing calculation attributes & methods?
Q6 U.S. has quite a few community libraries and frequently these places are staffed by long-term local experts, who are likewise very community oriented. Is there a way to “tap those resources” to correct / update community map data on OSM? Many community libraries have volunteers, those might be tapped if mapping projects could be made fun and “community oriented”. Local village parks and recreation departments, police, 911, fire, ambulance/EMT, Boy Scouts (mapping and orienteering oriented), and local historical societies seem also to be prime sources for volunteer help.
One answer from Help section
I would passingly observe that the main reason European OSM data is good (q3) is that it was and is a grassroots volunteer effort, and to have yet more automated imports in the US (q4) would simply be repeating the mistakes that have left the US map so far behind the European one.