The advantages of using OpenStreetMap compared to other on-line maps include:
- it can be updated much more quickly, because content is added by users, and that includes adding new concepts like electric vehicle charging points in addition to adding new routes or buildings
- the lack of technical or legal restrictions on the data (beyond basically ‘share and share alike’) gives much more freedom and flexibility
- being able to record much more detail relevant to your local area or needs, such as bad path surfaces, speed limits and shops selling fresh fruit and vegetables
- being able to produce your own types of maps, tailored specifically for your local area or a certain need, such as showing level routes suitable for wheelchair users or areas that would be left stranded by bus route cuts
- being able to use the data in ‘mashups’, such as highlighting bus or rail stops where there is no mobile phone coverage or catchment areas where there are no safe routes to schoolsbeing able to use the data for tools such as on-line journey planners.
ITO map visualisations gives examples of the types of different things you can show while Cyclestreets, which has proved much more successful than the Government’s cycle journey planner, shows how detailed information can help people plan journeys better.
Other sections of the toolkit give you ideas on how to use OpenStreetMap, for example:
- to plan better, such as being able to visualise different networks for different forms of travel or speed limits, which could make it easier to secure funding to make improvements - see shaping routes and networks section
- to create information, such as local walking, cycling and public transport maps - see creating information section