Our town is working with the state of New Jersey to start documenting the location of invasive plants. We are currently at the stage where we are evaluating what type of system we will use to record and map the data. We would gather the GPS coordinates of an area infested with a particular plant and put it into the database. We’d like to see a map with different colors representing different invasive plants. We’d like to be able to pick layers, for example just show one or two types of plants. It would also be cool if we could compare maps over time to see how the invasive plants are changing. By just going to openstreetmap.org I don’t see how we would do this, but I’ve seem from the blog there are some pretty interesting maps possible. Would this be an application OSM could do well? How would we get started?
Coincidentally I’ve been working on something similar.
It’s a pretty specific use case. I would recommend recording data in a separate database and overlay it on an OpenStreetMap basemap (which you could custom render, or just cache the OSM Mapnik tiles for example).
How are you going record the data? You could just record a point for each location but with such plants being biological contaminants it’s probably a better idea to record a polygon of the area covered by the plant, perhaps with points for the early colonies of the plant.
There’s a few ways of overlaying the data. You could use OpenLayers with vector layers to expose these areas or points of infestation. You could render a partially transparent map layer to overlay the infestations. Or you could combine the data with the OSM data during the rendering process and expose the data that way. I’ve been taking some inspiration from Mike Migurski’s heat map experiments.