Durham mapping party/Press Release

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Release: immediate

‘Putting Durham on the map’

OSM Durham Mapping Weekend Press Release from OpenStreetMap.org

On 7 and 8 June 2008, an OpenStreetMap team of volunteers will be adding Durham to the global mapping revolution. Contributors to the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project are meeting in the centre of Durham with the aim of completely mapping the streets and other major features of the city.

Anyone wishing to take part in the mapping weekend are asked to meet at St Cuthbert's Society, 12 South Bailey, Durham at 9:30 am on either or both days to collect GPS mapping units before going their separate ways to map the city for the rest of the day, with a brief get-together for lunch.

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. The OSM project aims to create free geographical data, like street maps, that can be used anywhere by anyone. OSM contributors, will be driving, cycling, and wandering the city with GPS (Global Positioning System) units recording the routes of as many streets, cycleways and footpaths as possible. The tracks recorded over the weekend will be added to the online OpenStreetMap.org database where anyone in the world with access to the internet can browse, annotate, reference, edit and use the data in any way they want.

Collaborative mapping is a rapidly growing activity and is being driven in part by technology (cheap GPS equipment and online collaboration tools such as OpenStreetMap.org). What makes such projects stand out is their knowledge production and ownership ethos. Under such open-source models the rights of authorship are decentralised and the knowledge gathered is seen as a common resource that can be distributed and re-used without restriction or licence. This approach has real potential to empower people to create their own knowledge and encourages re-use of cartographic resources in novel and creative ways.

The map data produced over the weekend will contribute to OpenStreetMap.org, one of the leading projects in the open-source mapping field. Currently, OSM has mapped large portions of the country, including all the motorways and most primary roads. Excellent street plans for central London, central Oxford and the Isle of Wight have been produced entirely from OSM data. In November 2007, a guide to Brighton was published that featured OSM maps and recently a leaflet of cycle restrictions was distributed to Cambridge households and university students.

When Gregory Marler moved up to Durham last October he went all out and decided to not look at any maps other than ones created from OpenStreetMap data or similarly copyright free maps. Back then however only the A-roads had been mapped so his project 'Living with Dragons' raised local attention of a free map requirement. Since then he's mapped a lot of the inner city roads and footpaths in great detail. While also getting lost trying to find houses of new friends.

We hope that an intensive effort to build a map of the wider city in a weekend will inspire others and help to build momentum across the North East, catching up with the South of England. As an open organisation with no membership requirements, we welcome the participation of anyone, young or old, who will be in Durham on the weekend of the 7 and 8 June. Anyone interested in taking part should can contact Gregory Marler (gregory dot marler at livingwithdragons dot com).


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

The local project has a regular blog and more details, http://www.livingwithdragons.com

For more media enquiries, please contact local mapper Gregory Marler (gregory dot marler at livingwithdragons dot com), phone 07903 641218

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. Why would anyone want to do that? Aren't there are lots of free maps out there? Most of the maps that you come across on the internet or in your home are protected by very stringent copyright laws. These rules stop the maps from being used in unique and unexpected ways, stifling people's creativity and imagination. www.openstreetmap.org

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 paper 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. Add street names and points of interests and make the maps even more useful. If anyone in the world can see the maps, will people be able to see where I live and where I work? When you upload a track onto the OSM website you can choose to do so publicly or privately. If you choose to upload private tracks, then only the site administrator will know they came from you. Because of the strict copyright laws it is important that the site administrator knows who contributed what.

What is GPS? GPS stands for Global Positioning System. The system is made up of around 24 satellites that are constantly orbiting the earth, transmitting information about their position and time. The information they transmit is a type of radio wave, and can be picked up and understood by handheld GPS units or Satellite Navigation systems in cars. By comparing the signals from at least four satellites it is possible for a GPS unit to work out its position anywhere on the earth to within 5 to 10m. GPS units are not tracking devices. They only have receivers not transmitters. It is not possible for someone to track you if you are using a GPS receiver.