You are browsing the archive for openstreetmap.

Why do we need OpenStreetMap? It’s the community stupid.

February 10, 2015 in datadays2014, Events, Featured

There are exciting times. Opendata is everywhere! In the past couple of year we have seen a lot of very interesting data open up and as a result things have changed. Startups have popped up everywhere related to opendata and some very successfully.

OpenStreetMap celebrated it’s 10th birthday in 2014, it’s been around for ages when talking about opendata. A very relevant fact related to the topic of opendata is the fact that the project got started because of a lack of open geo data to experiment with. The question that then comes to mind is: Why would we need OpenStreetMap in a world where all (geo)data is open?

From an OpenStreetMap-community-member perspective the answer to this question is obvious; it’s the community, stupid!

In our session at the OpenBelgium conference in Namur we try to give you an inside view of our community and all of it’s different aspects and activities. We hope that those who attend our session will also consider our community as thé answer to the question of why the world needs OpenStreetMap in an open world.

OpenStreetMap is so much more than just an open geo database. If you are looking for new ideas related to geo, want to know more about OpenStreetMap or if you want to become part of our community make sure you don’t miss out and attend OpenBelgium!

Want to know more about the OpenStreetMap community? Come to the Open Belgium Conference OpenStreet Map session and find out what this community looks like and how members contribute.
Or follow the Belgian OSM Community on Twitter or their website.

Cover-image CC-BY-SA

From raw data to finely crafted mosaics: the importance of standards

February 3, 2015 in Events, Featured, Openbelgium15, OpenBelgium2015

Now that large amounts of open data are becoming available, along with efficient visualization tools for their respective types, one of the next challenges is to make sense of these data in the scope of particular domains and use cases. Be it enriching a breaking news video with relevant graphs, contextualizing a budget report with related public policy excerpts, or bringing city statistics to life with localized pictures, it’s all about finding the right datasets that bring sense to each others. A fair part of making that sense lies in the ability to discover the right data, deconstruct it and tie the fragments together in mosaics that carry more information than the sum of these elements.

On the path to data valorization, the first step is discoverability of data. While cataloguing tools and open formats are now becoming mainstream (cf. CKAN and its numerous public deployments), usage of open metadata standards is still lagging behind. Sometimes because of proprietary metadata structures that prevent cross-domain discoverability, more often because datasets lack proper metadata altogether. If the former is being solved by the emerging use of standardized vocabularies (DCAT, INSPIRE, to name a few), the latter is mostly a matter of raising awareness, in all data publishing bodies, that metadata is just as important as data.

The next step in data reuse is the ability to transform data to match the tools and frameworks where data is to be used. Having data in a open format is good, but there often exists multiple potential open formats for the same dataset, and each context of use comes with a set of tools that may support only some of them. CSV’s may need to be turned into KML, or XML into JSON. This is where on-the-fly data transformation tools such as The Data Tank come into play, and ease up data processing by removing format friction.

Lastly, real added value can be created by going below the surface of the datasets, i.e. by no longer consuming datasets as unsplittable entities, but rather chunking them, taking the relevant parts for the subject at stake, and stitching the fragments into meaningful data mosaics. Some standards exist or are emerging to tackle that problem, like URI Fragments, Open Annotations, and the whole Linked Data toolbox, but a complete stack for the authoring and publication of such mosaics is still to be produced. Once achieved, such an environment would allow anyone to easily deconstruct datasets, build contextualized data mashups and exchange them as documents on their own, while relying directly on the original, remote data sources.

Curious to find out more? Come to the Open Data Tools and Standards session at 13.30 in the Auditorium Félicien Rops, where we will discuss this further.

Missing Maps Mapathon tomorrow!

December 12, 2014 in Events, Featured

Tomorrow is Map-day or as OpenStreetMap mappers call it, M-day! This saturday (13/12/2014) is the first mapathon of OpenStreetMap Belgium. They’re inviting everyone to the Missing Maps project as a way to learn OpenStreetMap and map regions in order to save lives. Together with experienced mappers you have the opportunity to offer a valuable contribution to the hard fieldwork of Doctors Without Borders and to build the necessary skills to continue to do this in the future. Even from your comfy chair, you will be able to map the world.
You can register right here!

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 10.32.33
CC-BY-SA Missing Maps 2014

Missing Maps

The”>Missing Maps project is a collaboration between the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), Doctors without Borders UK and the British and American Red Cross. The goal of the project is to map the most crisis sensitive areas of the world on OpenStreetMap. This to improve the efficiency and speed om humanitarian interventions.

What are we mapping on the 13th of December?  

This mapathon will focus on the Central African Republic, where Doctors without Borders Belgium is active. At the moment they are working in certain areas of which they only have handdrawn maps, something the local volunteers and worked would love to see improve.

What do you need? 

A laptop, a computer mouse and a lot of enthusiasm.

Is it mandatory to have mapping experience for this event? 

No, everyone is welcome! OpenStreetMap Belgium will give introductions to unexperienced volunteers who want to help out.

So where is this mapathon happening?

The mapathon has found a great location at Idealabs in the Lange Klarenstraat 19, Antwerp. And of course you can find it on OpenStreetMap.

The programme

  • 14.30u: Start & welcome!
  • 15.00u: Introduction Missing Maps by Jorieke Vyncke (Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team) & Pete Masters (Doctor Without Borders UK)
  • 15.10u: Split up in 2 groups:
    • Unexperienced Mappers: they will get a full introduction to the OpenStreetMap mapping.
    • Experienced Mappers: They can start mapping right away!
  • 20.00u: The room is reserved until 20.00, if we are still mapping, we’ll have to find an alternative spot. Sandwiches are provide, so don’t worry about food. But be sure to register so we know how many sandwiches they need to order!

Catherine Van Overloop of Doctors Without Borders Belgium wil also be present during the Mapathon and will illustrate the current situation in the Central African Republic.

So what do I now?

If you’re up for this challenge, sign up and join us at the mapathon!

More Information needed?

More information about Missing Maps in this article on (Dutch) and in this episode on ‘Vandaag’ on radio1 (sorry also Dutch). You can take a look on the Missing Maps website or contact OpenStreetMap Belgium on twitter or through


Join the OKFN Belgium mailing list