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OpenStreetMap Philippines: 2011 Year in Review

5:32 am PHT

2011 was a pretty good year for the OpenStreetMap project in the Philippines. Aside from the usual Mapping Parties, the community has organized or participated in several other events, some of them outside the Philippines. 2011 also saw the release of a more improved and usable OSM Philippine Garmin map, and OSM contributors made 2011 the best year in terms of increase of data in the Philippines (thanks to Bing).

By many respects, 2011 was the most active year for the Philippine OpenStreetMap community. 2012 will have quite a bit of a trouble topping the high bar that the previous year has set, but it’s a challenge that I’m certainly looking forward to.  :)

Mapping Parties and Research Papers

We had four Mapping Parties in 2011. All of them were held in Metro Manila and the the target areas were:

  • The Scout Area of Quezon City (February 12)

  • The whole town of Pateros (June 11)

  • The southwestern portion of Makati (July 23)

  • The area in and around Greenhills in Mandaluyong and San Juan (December 17)

Of the four, the QC Scout Area and the Greenhills Mapping Parties had the most participants, while the Pateros event had, in my opinion, the most impact in terms of increased coverage. You can check out how the a portion of Pateros was improved in the following visualization.

Aside from these Mapping Parties, Maning and Rally also attended a mini mapping event organized by Philip Paar, a German who was doing academic research on mapping slum areas. The event took place in mid January 2011 and the target was the Gawad Kalinga Telus Village in Quezon City. Philip visited Manila a couple of times before, mapping three other Gawad Kalinga villages, and for the Telus Village event, Maning and Rally participated to provide a local’s perspective.

Philip has published his research together with his co-researcher . You can check two of the papers they wrote in the following links.

Conferences, Hackdays, and Meetups

On September 17, OpenStreetMap Philippines gave a workshop at Software Freedom Day 2011, which was organized by the Computer Professionals Union. The workshop had around 50 student attendees and we gave them an overview of OpenStreetMap and had them try their hand at editing the data via Potlatch2.

In 2011, Maning started to organize the Philippine chapter of OSGeo, an international group that promotes the use of free and open source GIS software. OSGeo and OpenStreetMap enjoy a close relationship in many countries and there is actually some overlap in members between the two. And so during OSGeo Philippines’ third meeting held on December 3, I gave overview of OSM to the attendees.

In addition to these local events, Maning became the first ever Filipino (based in the Philippines) to attend State of the Map (SOTM), the annual conference for OpenStreetMap contributors, users, and supporters. In 2011, SOTM was held in Denver, Colorado from September 9 to 11 and Maning fortunately got a travel scholarship which lets him travel and attend the conference for free. Maning gave a short presentation on the state of OSM in the Philippines.

Maning also attended a regional FOSS4G in Tokyo and Osaka in Japan in November. FOSS4G is the OSGeo counterpart of OpenStreetMap’s SOTM, and while Maning wasn’t able to attend the global FOSS4G event in Denver (right after SOTM) he was able to attend the Japan conference where he saw how active the Japanese mapping and GIS communities were. Incidentally, SOTM 2012 will be held in Tokyo.

Finally, several OSM contributors met in Maning’s office on February 18 for the Garmin Hackday. While no actual hacking occurred that day, lots of ideas were discussed and many of them were implemented to create a much improved OSM-PH Garmin map.

A better Garmin map

As mentioned, an improved Garmin map based on OSM data in the Philippines was developed using some of the ideas shared during the Hackday, and was officially released on July 26. (Garmin is a brand of GPS navigation devices that is quite popular in the Philippines and the OSM Philippines community has been providing maps for Garmin devices since the late 2007.)

Among the improvements include better address search which was made possible because of new features added to mkgmap, the software we use to compile the Garmin map from OSM data. The map also had a fresher style with a lot more types of POIs (points of interest) shown. You can check out all the improvements on Maning’s blog post.

Impressive data growth

The numbers speak for themselves:

Data statistics as of January 3, 2011:

  • Number of nodes: 1,528,760

  • Number of ways: 127,544

  • Number of relations: 645

  • Number of contributors: 701

  • Total road length: 59,969 km

Data statistics as of December 28, 2011 (with percentage increase in parentheses):

  • Number of nodes: 2,778,737 (82%)

  • Number of ways: 283,621 (122%)

  • Number of relations: 1,769 (174%)

  • Number of contributors: 1,238 (77%)

  • Total road length: 91,461 km (53%)

The growth is quite impressive. All five data points have shown an increase of more than half and some numbers have even more than doubled compared to a year ago!

A large portion of this growth is definitely due to Bing Maps allowing OpenStreetMap to trace from it’s available satellite imagery. We still haven’t exhausted the possibilities of extracting data from Bing so expect further growth in 2012.  :)

Image credits: Map by ITO World (CC-BY-SA 2.0). Photos by Maning Sambale, Philip Paar, Harry Wood (CC-BY-SA), Eugene Villar, and an unknown photographer at FOSS4G. Other maps from data by OSM contributors.

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