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Free Software Needs Free (Geo)Data

Me, my doughter and SteveC at OSMit 2009

My name is Niccolo Rigacci and I live near Florence, Italy.

I've been map-addicted since I was a child. Surely digital maps fascinated me ever since too, but when they became available for everyone on cheap GPS devices, I was already deeply involved with the free software and GNU/Linux. So I was unable to ignore the closed licenses that tie proprietary maps: I never bought or used a cartographic GPS.

In March 2005 I was gifted with a Garmin Foretrex: it was so natural to start collecting GPS tracks to draw a free map! A month later I joined OpenStreetMap, but I was so impatient to draw quality maps that the early OSM tools scared me for their poor quality. So I continued collecting tracks privately, experimenting with free GIS software (Quantum GIS and PostGIS) and dreaming of a more productive and professional way to draw maps.

I was wrong: the OpenStreetMap model was the right project to follow. So with a delay of months I started uploading all of my tracks to OSM and active editing with JOSM (despite I hate Java!).

OpenStreetMap passion joined well with the passion for motorbike, so I mapped several tens of thousands kilometers in Italy - mainly Tuscany - and Greece.

I do surveys, but also advocate freeing existing data!

With association (Geospatial Free and Open Source Software), we launched the First Italian Mapping Party in Arezzo (January 2008). This is was the first chance to meet other Italian mappers: there were the days when the Italian community born.

In the future I hope to see a deeper collaboration between the OpenStreetMap community and the geographic free software community. The latter is obviously interested in the OSM project, but it is also more conscious that the OSM model cannot satisfy every geographic need. So I hope to see OpenStreetMap grow with more and more contributes, but I also hope to see more and more (already existing) geodata to be freed.

Personally I worked to free some geodata from ISTAT (Italian Institute of Statistic), unfortunately I was unable to obtain a clear and free license, I got just an ad-hoc statement for the OSM import.

I made the mass import of the Centri abitati italiani (Italian Populated Places) into OSM, you can obtain a database dump from

I also bought the coordinates of Località ISTAT (ISTAT Places): about 54000 named waypoints. I made a web tool] to export them in OSM format for an easy upload into OSM.

Mapping Parties and Conferences

After the Arezzo Mapping Party (January 2008), I spread the word of OpenStreetMap across Italy in several national and local events:

Mapping Hardware

My current mapping hardware is made by the i-Blue 747 logger (I had to write the MTKBabel program to be able to use it with GNU/Linux), the Neo FreeRunner where I run the Navit program with OSM data. I still use the old Garmin Foretrex, despite its lower precision and limited storage, because it is the only one which runs happily under the rain.


L'adesivo OpenStreetMap
Il foglio con 4 adesivi

You can download the OpenOffice draw and the PDF of this sticker from this page.

Se siete interessati potete chiedermi l'adesivo di OpenStreetMap in PVC resistente all'esterno. È stampato in fogli di 4 adesivi ciascuno, due grandi (12 cm) e due piccoli (5 cm) come si vede in figura. I sorgenti del disegno in formato OpenOffice e PDF sono scaricabili da questa pagina.

Le scritte sono La mappa del mondo libera e Mappiamo la tua città.

La spedizione per posta prioritaria dovrebbe costare intorno ai due euro. L'eventuale ricavato sarà devoluto ad OpenStreetMap e all'associazione

In italiano

Ho iniziato a collezionare tracce GPS nel marzo del 2005. Percorro circa 10.000 chilometri l'anno in moto sulle strade statali e provinciali della Toscana. D'estate invece è più facile trovarmi in Grecia. Da quando sono diventato babbo l'attività di mapping in moto si è ridotta drasticamente, continuo quando posso la raccolta dati in auto.

GPS tracks acquired in a couple of years

Archivio tutte le tracce raccolte su PostgreSQL + PostGIS. Le tracce sono disponibili in questa pagina e quasi tutte sono state caricate su OpenStreetMap.

Mi sono piegato ad usare Josm per l'editing, nonostante che il software Java mi faccia venire l'itterizia. Spero in un futuro prossimo di poter utilizzare Merkaartor oppure meglio ancora il plugin OSM per QGIS.

In quest'altra pagina tengo i miei appunti su GIS, cartografia e GPS.

Ho curato l'inserimento su OSM dei centri abitati italiani (capoluoghi di regione, provincia e comunali) utilizzando i dati presenti su