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09 February 2009, 12:19

OpenStreetMap: Birmingham digital remapping complete

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Birmingham has become the first English city to be completely remapped by its own citizens. Maps of the city are freely editable and available at OpenStreetMap (OSM). The OpenStreetMap project, run by the OpenStreetMap Foundation, is an open source project that is building free online maps, not based on any copyright or licensed map data. Birmingham is not the first city to be remapped in this way, but it is the first city in the United Kingdom. Birmingham joins the likes of Paris, Berlin, Canberra and Vienna.

According to OpenStreetMap, the digital map of Birmingham, is now more up-to-date and accurate than any other online map and only Ordnance Survey can claim to be more accurate, due to the technical and financial resources at their disposal. The data being used by OSM has been obtained from 100 volunteers who collected GPS data while cycling, walking, riding busses and trains and one volunteer even used a canal boat. They have mapped some 15,000 residential roads, 6,000 footpaths and 9,000 other roads in Birmingham (and over 700 bus stops, 300 pubs, 200 traffic lights and 300 postboxes).

"It's very satisfying to see a complete city mapped in OpenStreetMap. Four years ago when this project was created we were looking at a blank screen and most commentators thought we were crazy." said Andy Robinson, secretary of the OpenStreetMap Foundation.

The OpenStreetMap project was originated in the UK and now involves approximately 85,000 enthusiasts globally, who have so far mapped almost 14 million miles of road.

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