OpenStreetMap’s Growth Accelerates March 13th, 2012

OpenStreetMapOpenStreetMap’s growth accelerated in 2011 extending the achievements of 2010. Following up last year’s publication Geo-Analytics on OpenStreetMap Road Data, BEYONAV has again crunched metrics on a weekly snapshot of the complete OSM dataset using BEYONAV’s proprietary BeyoViewer software package. BeyoViewer loads the entire OSM planet dataset compressed dump file into memory in about two hours, after which street maps can be browsed in real-time as vector data and the worldwide length statistics can be calculated in about 42 seconds. The results show a rapid yet steady trajectory in the growth of the database size by a number of measures.

The OSM dataset in it’s entirety grew nearly 75% in 2011, and over 150% — more than doubling in size — over the last two years. On average, over 96,000 kilometers of new roadway were added every weeks during 2011, compared to 64,000 kilometers of new roadway each week during 2010. The pace of the growth is very steady. Even at the very small time interval of seven days, the standard deviation of how much data is contributed to OSM each week is remarkably low. See table and chart below.



OpenStreetMaps was founded in 2004 and quickly gained the attention of all of the major players in the mapping industry. While MapQuest and Microsoft are presently major contributors in terms of dollars and hardware, Google has also been a contributor, and dozens of companies are listed on OSM’s web site as having contributed their own proprietary data to the OSM database. OSM is widely considered to have the most complete cartographic record of our planet outside of possibly Google Maps which incorporates OSM with their own proprietary mapping data. Nonetheless, Steve Coast, founder of OSM was recently quoted in a Wired Magazine article as saying the project is “still waiting for the big one” in terms of acceptance and becoming a game-changer in the industry.

BEYONAVWe at BEYONAV believe OSM is poised to have a very big year in 2012 due to a confluence of several ingredients.

  • MapQuest’s free Open JavaScript Maps API puts brawn and heft behind serving OSM data online easily to any website or JavaScript developer, which the OpenStreetMap Foundation is does not provide.
  • The Google Maps API has up until now been completely free for any Internet facing, publicly accessible web site. Google has stated that they will begin charging web sites that exceed certain usage thresholds imminently.
  • A sophisticated desktop editor JOSM was released for editing OSM data, putting power into the hands of contributors.
  • Support by GIS Analysis packages like QuantumGIS put OSM data into the hands of contributors and analysts who wish to use OSM data on the desktop.
  • As BEYONAV’s analysis shows, the OSM database has matured far beyond being simply an inferior free and open source alternative to commercial data sources. The rapid and steady pace of growth assures potential commercial users that this is a sustainable and solid foundation upon which to entrust their business plans.
  • The OSM Google+ stream includes countless mentions of companies recently switching from Google Maps to OSM

Jens NitzschkeUsing BeyoViewer technology, BEYONAV is capable of compiling OSM data for very efficient custom applications. Jens Nitzschke, Founder and President of BEYONAV explains, “The BeyoMap spatial database engine powering the BeyoViewer application allows for large scalability displaying vector map data at any scale on the fly unlike traditional OSM tools which typically render pre-generated tile images.” Using Beyomap spatial database technology, BEYONAV is capable of processing planet OSM data as well as commercial map data from Navteq and TomTom. For more information, contact BEYONAV via their web site.

3 Responses

  1. [...] and an accompanying animated GIF showing the weekly growth of roadway data was produced:BeyoNav is predicting that 2012 will be a banner year for OpenStreetMap, citing the following arguments:MapQuest’s free Open JavaScript Maps API puts brawn and heft [...]

  2. Harry Wood says:

    “A sophisticated desktop editor JOSM was released” Well that was released much earlier in the project’s history actually and has evolved over the years. Likewise the flash editor “Potlatch” appearing on the edit tab, has developed over the years although there was a step-change in 2010 with the release of Potlatch 2. In general OSM editing tools are getting better, and easier to use. Also OpenStreetMap has an editing API including oauth login, meaning developers can create new editors. One thing which maybe drives increased levels of contribution is when people come up with more simple focussed editor tools which more people can understand how to use. e.g. the Mapzen POI collector iPhone app.

    On the other hand the most prolific contributors will tend to use JOSM, and I actually think, even though it’s quite full-featured and looks like a complex engineering design tool, it’s one of the best editing experiences for beginners if they’re willing to take a little time to learn how to use it.

  3. [...] and an accompanying animated GIF showing the weekly growth of roadway data was produced:BeyoNav is predicting that 2012 will be a banner year for OpenStreetMap, citing the following arguments:MapQuest’s free Open JavaScript Maps API puts brawn and heft [...]

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