At komoot, we often get asked about open data, Open Street Maps (OSM) and how to use it, with numerous queries coming most recently during the Travel Talk at Eurobike 2017. During the Q&A session after our talk, Thomas Froitzheim explicitly asked about Open Street Maps and data.
In general, you have to first distinguish two different kinds of data:
- User-based recommendation data (blue recommendation layer in graph below)
- Verifiable location data used for maps and navigation (green layer in graph below, referred to as “Grundlagendaten” for maps by Thomas Froitzheim in his question)
In short: Go for the platform with largest reach and lowest cost
For verifiable map data, we have a clear recommendation that’s based on driving questions to decide how to invest resources best. Those questions are:
- What are the costs of a solution?
Open Street Maps now has more than 3 million registered users applying more than 80 million edits a month (OSM Stats). You get a lot of help, you’re part of a community and there are no license costs.
- How to reach the largest possible audience?
Hundreds of millions of users of the leading (outdoor, sports and travel) apps rely on OSM data (extensive list of iOS apps).
Our clear recommendation: Choose the open data platform OSM over any proprietary solution that sells or licenses data instead of ensuring it is spread as widely as possible. Be a part of it and edit data, and motivate stakeholders to integrate their own data there. That way, your data has the largest reach possible.
Location data, maps and recommendations in more detail
Komoot applies similar principles to the outdoors as TripAdvisor, Yelp or Amazon does for hotels, sights, restaurants or products. And when you bear in mind that a great mountain bike experience for me is not the same as a great mountain bike experience for my mother, you see that personalized recommendations are only possible if one relies on user content. To better showcase this point, consider the following: S3 mountain bike trails are generally more difficult than S0 trails. Whether they lead to a better overall experience, however, is highly dependent on the individual. That a user would prefer to use S3 trails depends on personal taste and can not be verified as true or false in general.
Verifiable map data
This is completely different for map data. Whether a path is between 1.5 and 2.0 meters wide, comprised of gravel, without steps, has an incline of 4% to 6% and is accessible for mountain bikers is data that can be verified true or false. The same holds true for POI data like e-bike charging stations: Either there is one that is free to use for Bosch bikes, or not.
Wikipedia is a great example of the power of open data and community. We all rely on Wikipedia articles; they’re a great resource, completely free and integrated in thousands of services, including Facebook and Google. Open Street Maps follows the same principle, but for map and location data. At komoot, we truly believe in open data and the power of community. Open Street Maps has now more than 3 million registered users applying more than 80 million edits a month (OSM Stats). Therefore, as the Komoot maps stack is built on open data, we motivate users to contribute, have built shortcuts to add or adapt data and have published our search as you type geo-coder photon open source.
“What to do as a tourism destination?”
Tourism marketing destinations face multiple challenges and tasks. Aside from advertising the destination together with its bike and outdoor products, it is their task to provide services and maps for their guests, albeit with limited time and resources. The driving questions to decide how to invest these resources best are:
- What are the costs of a solution?
- How to reach largest possible audience?
Costs: Open street maps as a “data management platform” is completely free. The only cost is in the manpower required to edit data. Editing OSM is becoming simpler and simpler (there are now even apps to directly do it on the go), and more important, however, and as a result the workload is inherently shared. → Choose Open Street Maps
Audience & reach:
- Apps: Hundreds of millions of users of the leading (outdoor & sports) apps rely on OSM data: Komoot, Strava routing, Maps 3D, ViewRanger, Trails, GPS-Tracks and Outdooractive all mention OSM as part of their maps (Extensive list for iOS)
- GPS devices: Garmin routing, COBI, Bosch Nyon and Wahoo routing are all based on OSM
- Print & individual websites: MapBox and therefore Foursquare, Pinterest, Evernote, the Financial Times, The Weather Channel and Uber Technologies rely on OSM data. MapBox is an easy to integrate service for individual websites and also offers print solutions with fully customized map styles
Once added to OSM, data is integrated by the most popular apps, GPS devices and websites, and can be easily integrated into individual websites and print products. → Choose Open Street Maps
Our clear recommendation: Choose the open data platform OSM over any proprietary solution that sells or licenses data instead of ensuring it is spread as widely as possible. Be a part of it and edit data, and motivate stakeholders to integrate their own data there. Your provider of e-bike charging stations, cycling club, trail builder, hiking guides,… many shoulders to build.