Dumfries/MappingParty2009-10/Press Release

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Release: immediate

‘Putting Dumfries on the map’

OSM Dumfries Mapping Weekend Press Release from OpenStreetMap.org

On the weekend of the 10th and 11th October, an OpenStreetMap team of volunteers will be adding Dumfries to the global mapping revolution. Contributors to the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project are meeting in the centre of Dumfries with the aim of completely mapping the streets and other major features of the town.

Anyone wishing to take part in the mapping weekend should drop in to DGOne at any time between 10 and 4 on either or both days to find out how to join in. No experience or special equipment will be needed, just enthusiasm and a bit of time. The volunteers will then fan out around the town, filling in the gaps in the map on foot or by bike, using GPS to record as many streets, cycle routes and footpaths as possible. The tracks recorded over the weekend will be added to the online OpenStreetMap.org map where anyone in the world with access to the internet can browse, annotate, reference, edit and use the data in any way they want.

The OSM project was started in 2004 to enable anyone to use maps in creative, productive or unexpected ways. The use of traditional maps is hampered by legal and technical restrictions that severely curtail their use. In contrast, OSM project aims to create free geographical data that can be used anywhere by anyone. This has led to some innovative projects, from iPhone apps to help you find the nearest cashpoint, to online schemes to get you on your bike. For instance, CycleStreets uses OpenStreetMap data to help cyclists plan the fastest – or safest – route from A to B.

Currently, the OpenStreetMap community has mapped large portions of the country, including most railways, major roads, many town roads, and in some town centres all the shops and addresses. But other places, like Dumfries, have only been partially mapped, and there’s lots of missing streets, paths and places of interest that need to go on. Because it’s a volunteer effort – like Wikipedia – the map can then be kept up to date as anyone who sees something missing can add it there and then. Traditional maps are out of date almost the minute they’re published. "You map what you’re interested in, so there’s lots of cycling routes at the moment," says Sally Hinchcliffe, a local mapper who’s been cycling round Dumfries updating OSM since the beginning of the year. Keeping it up to date is also part of the fun, she says. "I found one new housing development that wasn’t on Google Earth or any of the other online maps. Now, when I find a gap like that, I can just put it straight onto OSM. It’s very satisfying."

This mapping party is particularly timely because of Dumfries’s involvement in Smarter Choices, Smarter Places. OpenStreetMap maps can be used to underpin the town’s effort to encourage greater walking, cycling and use of public transport. The maps already have all the bus stops on, and the Maxwelltown Railway and Locharbriggs cycle paths, unlike many maps which only show the roads. The map could also be a boost to tourism to the town and surrounding area. Events like Doors Open, and Spring Fling need to be able to provide really good maps so visitors can find the more out-of-the-way attractions. Organisers could use OSM’s maps in their brochures for free and adapt them to their needs.

We hope that an intensive effort to build a map of the town in a weekend will inspire others and help to build momentum across Dumfries and Galloway. As an open organisation with no membership requirements, we welcome the participation of anyone, young or old, who will be in Dumfries on the weekend of the 10th and 11th October. Anyone interested in taking part should can contact Sally Hinchcliffe (sallyhinchcliffeATgooglemailDOTcom).

ENDS

Further information can be found on the project website, http://www.openstreetmap.org

Notes for editors

What is OpenStreetMap? OpenStreetMap is a voluntary not-for-profit organisation that anyone, anywhere can join. The goal of OSM is to provide free map data that can be used by anyone. All of our maps are freely available on the internet at www.openstreetmap.org and the data is licensed under the Creative Commons licence (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OpenStreetMap_License). Most of the maps that you come across on the internet or in your home are protected by very stringent copyright laws and can be expensive to use. These rules stop the maps from being used in unique and unexpected ways, stifling people's creativity and imagination. www.openstreetmap.org

What is Smarter Choices, Smarter Places?

Smarter Choices Smarter Places is a Scottish Government partnership project with COSLA. Designed to increase active travel and public transport use and tackle transport emissions, it will contribute to a number of objectives in the Scottish Government's National Performance Framework, and Local Authorities' Single Outcome Agreements. In 2008, Dumfries was awarded £2.7 million to fund sustainable transport under this programme. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Transport/sustainable-transport/home-zones

How does OpenStreetMap work?

Anyone with a handheld Global Positioning System receiver can start mapping straight away. You need to set your GPS to record tracks and then go for a walk or for a bike ride or a drive creating a trail on the GPS unit every second. Walk around some streets in your neighbourhood, making some notes about the street names and any one way streets or roundabouts that you find. When you get home, plug your GPS into your computer and upload the tracks that you recorded onto the OSM website. In under an hour, you tracks will appear on the website. You can then use the online tools to map roads and street names that anyone in the world will be able to see. Who can be involved? Anyone with access to a GPS unit and a computer with an internet connection can join in. Even if you don't have a GPS, you can see what maps have been made of your area and improve them. You can use walking papers to update the map as you go around, and then upload the data onto the map. Add street names and points of interests – like cashpoints and public toilets – and make the maps even more useful. For the mapping party, GPS units will be provided for people who don’t have their own.