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16 November 2012, 12:24

OpenStreetMap launches "Operation Cowboy"

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Operation Cowboy logo

The OpenStreetMap community has announced that it will host its second global "mapathon" during the weekend of 23–25 November; this time, the event is code-named "Operation Cowboy" and will focus on the US. Concentrating on "armchair mapping", aerial images will be surveyed at local meetings, as well as from home. Based on these surveys, the project will then complement its map material for the US. The campaign has its own official Twitter account and hash tag: #OPC2012.

The organisers say that the focus was chosen because there is relatively little detail in the map material that covers the US. They noted that, compared to the size of the area, the community is relatively small; as the US infrastructure is very similar to that of Europe, the project said that non-US users will also be able to identify and classify many areas. The organisers have asked that mappers focus on particularly patchy areas and correct any existing data, adding useful information such as Wikipedia links for historical sites or places of interest.

In their call for participants, they point out that they are aware of the risks that are inherent in mapping areas using aerial imagery. Apparently, the flawed interpretation of aerial images is a substantial source of error in commercial mapping portals. The organisers said that physical location visits are therefore clearly preferable. The map material introduced by these events can continue to be enhanced in the future, they noted, adding that this is the strong point of their crowdsourcing project.


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