Ever heard of an Open Street Map? No, it’s not that thing Google is doing where they drive past when you’re getting changed or snap your dog having a wee up against the lampost. Open Street Map is where people can help to map their local areas properly and it’s happening in Preston.Advertisement
Preston has a small but dedicated street mapping community. Luke Bosman, 36, from Brockholes Wood, Preston, is one of them.
“I got into mapping when I was off work for a time and bought a GPS system,” he says, “from there I was out cycling and I found that the maps needed some work. I went online and I started to find out I could do mapping myself and help other cyclists.”
Open Street Map allows users to download maps to their own systems, make edits and upload them back onto the web for others to see. Think of it as Wikipedia for maps.
The Open Street Map community in Preston have been beavering away over the last 18 months and now the Eastern area of Preston is well covered, according to Luke.
He said: “We’re hoping that people will use the Open Street Map version, as it’s a better quality map. We take the maps out and go on routes and then add the changes that happen. You’d be surprised how inaccurate Google Maps and even the official Ordnance Survey maps can be.
“It’s one of those nerdy things that really pays off. We want people to be able to plan walking and cycle routes and be confident in knowing that those routes are correct.
“The best thing is that if you’re on your walk and something doesn’t match up to the map, you can log on and make that change yourself.”
Luke recommends getting a good GPS system if you want to get into your mapping. The Open Street Map site has details of which systems are compatible, but it’s possible your mobile phone could be.
Luke now has plans to organise a mapping meet-up, where a group of people meet and then map set routes, most likely with a few beers afterwards, and his long-term aim is to deliver something for the Preston Guild in 2012.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could deliver a detailed map of Preston for the Guild?”, enthuses Luke, “to be able to hand over a living and breathing map, created by the people of Preston, that is second to none in terms of accuracy.”
If you’re interested in Open Street Map and would like to get involved then you can get in touch with Luke Bosman via Twitter.