Contributing to UGC

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OpenStreetMaps (OSM)

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OSM Background

OSM was created by Steve Coast, a British entrepreneur, in 2004. He was inspired by the rising success of another UGC website, Wikipedia. The site is also funded by the OpenStreetMap Foundation (a non-profit organisation based in England).

Large companies such as Craigslist, Apple and Foursquare have replaced their mapping system (originally Google Maps) with OSM. There reasons vary but mainly as OSM contains free and openly available data (under the Open Database License) which means they do not have to pay Google for use of their mapping system as the data is open to anyone as people have contributed to the website to fill in the data that currently exists.

During the Haiti Earthquake in 2010 OSM was used as a new way to help the aid workers gain information and data about the aid centres created in Haiti that provided aid to the local people. HOT (Humanitarian OSM Team) would each update the map with the moving aid stations and vitals points across Haiti to provide up-to-date information to the people helping the earthquake victims.

This is their mission statement:

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) applies the principles of open source and open data sharing to humanitarian response and economic development.

HOT have outlined their core objectives as being:

  • To be the connecting point between humanitarian actors and open mapping communities.
  • To provide remote data creation during crises.
  • To collect and organise existing data sources.
  • To support deployments to the field.
  • To be a distribution point for free data.
  • To develop open knowledge and tools

(Source: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Humanitarian_OSM_Team)

Currently OSM has over 1.6 million registered users worldwide and is currently growing at a rapid rate. Being a more up-to-date and accurate map system, they are quickly competing with Google Maps as their main competitors.

Contributing

I have decided to contribute the User Generated Content based sites (UGC). There are many of these sites including Wikimedia, Openstreetmaps, Zotero and many more.

After having a look at some of the UGC websites I was intrigued with Openstreetmaps. Considering their large competitors such as Google maps and Bing maps, they have used the UGC feature to be a unique and intriguing feature to the site. Being able to manually edit the map makes their data more up-to-date and accurate than their competitors. It gives users the chance to completely manipulate the map. I have never heard of this site before but now I will use this site over its competitors due to its accuracy and detail.

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I decided to add the medical centre onto the map of the Talbot Campus. The website was easy to use as there was a tutorial on how to edit the map. I could add other details about the medical centre like the website and phone number which is good information to have on the map. Overall this is a great piece of technology. If more people know about the site and the map was more detailed, I could predict that it would be more popular than their main competitors. It’s great to see people collaborating on a site to improve the user experience for the next person that goes on the site.

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