MapComplete

Project lead: Pieter Vander Vennet


More and more use OpenStreetMap (OSM) as their basemap. But we’re not just a map - we’re an open spatial database. How many apps do you know that collect drinking fountains, public toilets, camping spots, bars with wifi, parking info etc? Unfortunately, all of these apps have their own little data island. All of these things could be built very easily on top of OpenStreetMap!

Collecting this data outside of OpenStreetMap has serious disadvantages.

Why doesn’t everyone just use OpenStreetMap then? Anyone can use our database and user management. You’re allowed to build a business model around our data. Your data will be curated by a huge community. Your data will be enriched by people with similar interests using other apps.

To be honest, we’re surprised as well. We think there are two reasons we can do something about:

MapComplete to the rescue

MapComplete aims to make this all easy to solve. It is a generic progressive web-app that can be adapted to any topic. It makes it easy to:

And it doesn’t just show this data, it also allows you to add or edit data. For any POI, we define a number of questions that are interesting. These can be answered by anyone who knows a bit about the topic - no specialized knowledge required. The information is added to OpenStreetMap directly - you only need a personal OSM account, but there is no separate database of POI or users. Pictures are hosted externally, and the URL is added to the OSM object. So all information will be available to any OSM user.

The app works as a mobile friendly data viewing and editing tool. At the same time, it is also built to be used as a desktop website as well as for inclusion in your own website.

Part of the community

Making it easier to contribute to OSM data also means it’s easier to make mistakes. So we monitor the data that is being generated by the tool.

As a user gains experience, they can start combining the different themes to use it for all of their personal specific interests.

Expert users can even make their own theme without any intervention from our side.

Help us grow the tool

Because this is an open source project, all development helps all of the users.

The foundational work has been laid already, thanks to grants from Groen for Buurtnatuur.be and Brussels Mobility (via the Cyclofix project). But when we have partners, the look & feel can be tweaked to their preferences. The quality of the data depends on the number of users - so we work with partners for promotion. We also organize mapathons, where we give a quick training and send people out in the field to collect data. We also need more work on the fundamentals of the project, for example to improve the visualization or make it even more user-friendly.

A good way to work together is through an Open Summer of Code project, but we’re open to other models as well. And we will keep improving the tool anyway!

A key future development is using it to present non-OpenStreetMap data to users, with an eye to integrating that data into OpenStreetMap. In that process, the external data is also validated, helping the original source maintain quality of their dataset.

Info & history

For more information about the tool (including a list of all themes): https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/MapComplete

Try it out at mapcomplete.osm.be.

Inspirations & alternatives

There are several other apps to edit OpenStreetMap on mobile. Vespucci has all the functionality of a dekstop editor. StreetComplete is a gamified approach that focuses on extending existing data and has a very wide range of “quests”. MapContrib is very similar to MapComplete in goals and options. Umap does not have editing features, but can be used to make maps similar to MapComplete and allows to upload or draw data from outside of OpenStreetMap. Then there are tools like OSMTracker which help you survey data in the field, but expect you to add the data to OpenStreetMap in a desktop tool.