In the UK the Ordnance Survey owns all the geographic data required to map, well just about anything. It is Crown Copyright. You have to buy a license to use the data and it is strictly enforced – even not-for-profit organisations need licenses such as the Online Fellwalking Club [OFC] much to their chagrin. The OS has trust Fund status by the UK Govt so that although ‘we’ paid for all the mapping in the first place ‘we’ are not now entitled to use it as we see fit. More in the coffers for the depleted No. 11 war chest. In the US geo-data is free.
As an aside, if the mapping is not based in the UK i.e. it’s foreign then it is outside the copyright – an example being the Red Army maps of the UK and, possibly, Michelin.
Anyway, cut to the chase, the OU has a collaborative project to map London and give the data away for people to play and build things with and hell, just use. Good on them. They’re using GPS to get GPX data to then synthesise and get useful maps. Then they annotate with ‘real-world semantics’ like one way streets etc. and then populate it with useful information. It’s fascinating to see what sort of data is available – like photographs of the East End from the East End postcard group to add to build on basic geo-data. Like a collage – a useful one – in progress.
[via pasta and vinegar]