FAQ

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In addition to this FAQ, there is a collaboratively edited question and answer site where you can read more questions about OpenStreetMap and ask your own. Feel free to contact the community as well.

Other FAQ pages

See also Category:FAQ

Top 25

Here are the ranked, top 25 most Frequently Asked Questions about OpenStreetMap (OSM), answered in 2 sentences or less. Change this list...

What is OpenStreetMap?

OpenStreetMap is an freely-editable map on the internet.

Why don't you just use Google Maps?

Because map data from Google Maps is unavailable and only very limited use is allowed, whereas OSM is free and open source and fully available.

Google Maps also in general have very low quality of map data for things like hiking trails, poor countries, bicycle infrastructure and many more.

Long answer

Why are some things missing on the map?

OSM relies entirely on its contributors for the data that is shown on the map.

Nobody ever contributed the data that's missing before, so is up to you to contribute that data now!

Why can't I copy data from Google Maps?

Google Maps' data is copyrighted and copying copyrighted materials openly on an open platform like OSM is illegal.

You should not copy data from any service that is copyrighted and instead look for ones that are open.

I have just made some changes to the map. How do I get to see my changes?

The servers take a few minutes to take the data you contributed and render it.

After those few minutes, you should clear your cache and see the your contributions at high zoom levels (zoomed in).

Long answer

Who owns OSM?

The contributors do. If you contribute to the project, you own the data.

Who maintains OSM?

The OpenStreetMap Foundation supports and maintains openstreetmap.org, and other related resources.

Does OSM have an awesome community that I can join?

Yes! You can meet and talk to them here.

Does OSM make money?

No. The database is free to use and the OpenStreetMap Foundation is a nonprofit funded by donations.

Who uses OSM?

Anyone can use OSM data for their own mapping project, but notable users include Apple (Apple Maps), Facebook, Snapchat (Snap Maps), and Amazon.

What can OSM be used for?

OSM data can be used for almost anything.

From finding directions from point A to B, to searching for points of interest, to exploring geography; OSM has the data!

How many people contribute to OSM?

As of February 9, 2021[1]:

  • 7.48 million OSM accounts have been created
  • Almost 50,000 active users

How much data is contributed to OSM?

https://osmstats.neis-one.org/?item=elements

I found a bug or think osm.org could be improved. Where can I ask about it?

You can submit bugs and feature requests for the website here.

The many open-sourced software applications for OSM also have their own issue trackers.

Can I copy data from OSM?

Yes! OSM is provided under the ODbL, meaning you must provide Attribution.

How can I display OSM maps on my website?

Read Getting Started With Leaflet on switch2osm.org.

How can I edit OSM data?

Common Editors are the iD editor on osm.org, JOSM, StreetComplete, and MapWithAI.

Can I work on mapping with other people?

Yes! Please see the OpenStreetMap Calendar, where you can find mapping events online and in-person all over the world.

How can I close my account?

Send an email to the support address and an administrator will disable your account and remove your details from the OpenStreetMap database (user site, contact information, about me, etc.). Please send the email from the email account you specified when you registered your OSM account. Your email address will usually be retained in the event that an OpenStreetMap administrator needs to contact you in the future.

Do I need to own a GPS device to contribute to the map?

Not necessarily. You're welcome to upload your GPS track logs (also called traces) to OpenStreetMap, however today we have access to numerous data sources that can be used to determine an accurate position, including aerial imagery from bing, and of course the existing OpenStreetMap data.

Uploading GPS data is useful however, for rural and mountainous areas where aerial imagery may be of low quality, or inaccurately aligned.

Why is the satellite imagery low resolution? Is there other satellite imagery that I can use that has more detail? Can you update it? How often is it updated?

The Aerial Imagery is from a variety of sources that we have permission to use.

The resolution and age of imagery varies, and it is not updated on a regular basis or in the control of OSM.

What does your license allow me to do with the OSM Data ?

See Legal FAQ and License for more information.

Is it OpenStreetMap or Open Street Maps?

OpenStreetMap is the correct spelling. OpenStreetMap is also a Trademark.

I have a question that is not here

Please ask your question in one of the various Contact channels.

References