Sheffield Press Release

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FIXME FIXME FIXME make this relevant to Sheffield

'The Essence of Sheffield – City on the Move'

OSM Sheffield Mapping Weekend Press Release from 16/08/2006

This weekend, 24th – 25th March, the OpenStreetMap team of volunteers will be adding another city to the global mapping revolution. Contributors to the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project are meeting in Sheffield with the aim of completely mapping the streets and other major features of the city while at the same time providing, through technology, a valuable insight into how visitors to Sheffield make sense of the city.

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 aim of the OSM project is to create free geographic data, like street maps, that can be used by anyone, anywhere. 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. The tracks recorded will be put online in the database where anyone in the world with access to the internet can browse, name, reference, edit and use the data in any way they want.

Especially for Sheffield this weekend, the participants will be contributing to a pilot study for the Cityware project to understand how people navigate and find their way around and make sense of the city.

Collaborative mapping is an emerging and rapidly growing activity that has developed alongside other activities like geo-caching, and is being driven in part by technology (cheap GPS equipment and online collaboration tools, like What makes projects like this one stand out is their ethos on knowledge production and ownership. Under open-source models the rights of authorship are de-centred and the ownership of knowledge is seen as a common resource that can be distributed and re-used without restriction or license. Opening up map making in this way 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, 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. We hope that an intensive effort to build a map of the whole of a city in a weekend will inspire others and help to build momentum across the country. As an open organisation with no membership requirements, we welcome the participation of anyone, young or old, who will be in Sheffield on the weekend of the 24th and 25th of March. Anyone interested in taking part in the activities should contact Steve Coast (steve at asklater dot com) or Andy Robinson (andy at ukstreetwise dot com)

Further information can be found on the project web site

For more media enquires contact Andy Robinson at andy at ukstreetwise dot com or 07775537872.

Support for the mapping weekend is being provided by the University of Sheffield ( and The Institution of Engineering and Technology

More Background

What is OSM?

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 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.

What is Cityware?

Cityware is a multidisciplinary research project, integrating the disciplines of architecture and urban design, human-computer interaction and distributed systems. Cityware is funded through the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s WINES programme, with support from the Cityware industrial partners. Cityware began in October 2005 and runs until March 2009.

So 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 round-a-bouts 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.

Why did you come to Sheffield?

Apart from Sheffield being a beautiful city, we wanted to demonstrate that it is possible for quite a small team of volunteers to achieve a lot in a small period of time. Over the weekend we hope to map as many of the city’s streets, cycleways and footpaths as possible.

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.