OpenStreetMap captures crowdsourcing in striking interactive graphics

In the last eight years, OpenStreetMap has come a long way. The open-source mapping program, which has more than 1 million contributors has 21,107,196 miles of detailed roads across the world. It’s pretty impressive to see the results of their work, particularly in use cases like Apple Maps, but it’s perhaps even more exciting to take a peek behind the system and see the changes it has undergone. The 2013 OpenStreetMap Data Report is an interactive summary of some of the most intriguing pieces of the system’s journey to map the world. Here are some of the pertinent highlights:

  • A single editor, programmed by Serge Wroclawski, idenfitied and properly standardized road names across the country. In six months, the program fixed 4,156,347 street names to a nicer looking long-form style.
  • Roughly 20 percent of changes made within OpenStreetMap are done by more than 99 percent of the user population. The remaining one percent is in charge of the rest.
  • In addition to millions of miles of road, the program has a database of 78 million buildings.

And those are just some of the numbers involved. The more important pieces are done in helpful, striking graphics that show the advances the program has made city by city. A before and after presentation of downtown Chicago shows off the hundreds of buildings put in place via a single governmental database of the city. There are “heat maps” of updates to major cities such as New York City, Tokyo, and Sydney that show where users have made the most changes over a period of time. There are even glimpses into the most densely-mapped data in the world — compiled from an independent list and largely featuring areas in France, the U.S., and Cameroon — that show extra markers like walking trails, hills and even individual trees. But perhaps the greatest thing the report shows is the consistent hard work put forth within the crowd that keeps OpenStreetMap running and updated. There’s perhaps no better example of the value communities can create than  Google’s acquisition of Waze today for an undisclosed sum, and it’s easy to see why: The power of many minds can lead to great work and amazingly gorgeous data. Interested in getting in on the action? OpenStreetMap is an ongoing project, and its new user orientation can be found here.