Free Training Oppertunity for Students on Open Street mapping

Along with GFDRR ( as part of their OpenCities initiative ( we are hosting a half day hands-on training session on the crowd-sourced OpenStreetMap platform on Saturday 2nd November from 10 am to 2 pm at the World Bank Office (E-32 Agargaon, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar) covering the following:

  1. OSM Basics: How it works, it’s many uses & opportunities … as well as it’s limitations.
  2. OSM Excursion: An outdoor exercise to collect data using a clever tool designed to simplify geographic data collection.  
  3. OSM Editing: The process and the differences with traditional GIS editing.

Grateful for confirmation of your participation to Tahsina Akbar on  . This will be a practical ‘hands-on’ session so we would request you to please bring your own laptop. 
Thanks kindly, Mark

PS – There is an excellent status report on OSM at


A Vision for

Implementing the first pieces of a redesigned site

At State of the Map US, Saman Bemel Benrud presented a vision for a ground-up redesign of the OpenStreetMap website. His proposal introduced concepts for strengthening community aspects of the site, improved the on-boarding experience for new users, and defined a more logical information architecture, making the relationship between the community, data, and map layers of the site clearer.

Watch the Presentation

At the sprint days following the conference, OSM contributors began to work on parts of this vision. A desire to strengthen the collaborative features of the site had emerged as a theme of the conference, and several contributors began to implement features to allow communities to form around specific regions, features, or interests. Meanwhile, Tom, Saman, and I began to work on reworking the existing map UI on’s main page, with an eye toward paving the way for bigger changes.

Mockup of Saman’s design presentation, recently deployed map UI

Having  heads down

Our focus right now is on incremental, clearly actionable improvements. Our goals are to improve the overall impression of the website and project for people arriving on for the first time, make it easier for new users to sign up, and provide better guidance for beginning contributors:

Clean up forms
A new map UI
Improve sign up experience
A cleaner organization of the front page
Update attribution page

In the last couple of weeks, working with other contributors and the maintainer of, Tom Hughes, we have made great progress.

First, we helped do a ground up clean up of all form elements on, creating a sensible styling for all form elements, revisiting button positioning across the board resulting in a much cleaner look and feel. These improvements are now deployed to

Second, we refactored and consolidated the map user interface. This pull request, was deployed just last Friday, and discussion is underway on followup changes. These changes consolidate interaction with the map into a tool box on the right hand side. Where before the map key, map navigation UI elements, layer switcher and sharing controls were spread out in all four corners of the map, they are now consolidated in the top right. This change results in a cleaner look and feel and frees up space for other uses.

The new map UI toolbar unites map navigation, map sharing, map key, creating notes and layer switching.

The layer selector of the new map UI.


Right now work are going on a welcome landing page for new users. This is part of improving the sign up experience on OpenStreetMap, designed to help anyone get started mapping. It’s not intended as a comprehensive guide, but more like the page you’d want to send someone to before they crack open an editor.

The proposed welcome page to help newcomers start mapping.

Further priorities include:

  • A cleaner organization of the front page
  • A better jumping off point for help

Personalised Future of Cartography


The magical Marauder’s Map that can reveal people’s locations, imagined by JK Rowling in her Harry Potter novels, is fast becoming reality as cartography undergoes radical changes that are altering people’s sense of time and place. The explosion in smartphones means Google Maps, which comes pre-installed on Android devices (and is favoured by many Apple iOS users), has nearly replaced the trusty Ordnance Survey as the go-to map.

People are now glued to the screen in the palm of their hand, guided around their urban environment by a GPS cursor. And with individuals increasingly using these devices to share their locations, a new social layer is forming over maps.

It may seem as though the digital generation is at risk of growing up devoid of map-reading skills, and instances of spontaneity, serendipity or just getting lost are disappearing. But this technology means people are engaging with maps in new ways that enthusiasts say strengthens their sense of place and aids discovery.

“If I travel to a new city, I can look at maps people have created to see where I can go for a run, or find something to do that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise,” says Eric Gundersen, founder of Mapbox, a start-up that creates maps and data visualisations from data generated collaboratively. In a speech at SXSW Interactive festival this year, Foursquare co-founder and chief executive Dennis Crowley said social maps will mean the end of scraps of paper scribbled with names of bars and restaurants. His vision is to create a real-life Marauder’s Map, where people will be able to locate their friends, based on where they have been “checking in” on the app.

Beyond using maps to enhance their social lives, people are creating their own maps and databases, in a movement called open-source mapping. In a similar way to Wikipedia, open-source maps are online databases built by volunteers, relying on community moderation as quality control. The largest of these is OpenStreetMap, founded in 2004 in the UK, around the same time Google launched its first online map. While most maps have legal or technical restrictions, the aim of OpenStreetMap is to make map data free, so it can be used in more creative, productive ways.

The number of people around the world collaborating on the project has swelled in recent years, with more than 1,000 volunteers updating the map every day, and one million registered users in total. This amounts to 21 million miles of data charted around the world. The growth of open-source mapping has also given rise to an explosion in other map-related online communities, meet-ups and start-ups (both MapBox and Foursquare’s software is powered by OpenStreetMap).

While it has been suggested that OpenStreetMap is a significant disruptive force for proprietary map providers – like Wikipedia was to Encyclopedia Britannica – these priority services are also looking at ways to tap into this movement and explore how geographical data is shared online. After a public campaign three years ago, the Ordnance Survey opened up 11 sets of map data for the public to use for free. Now it is seeing significant uptake, with more than 800 people downloading data sets every week.

Ordnance Survey is also exploring community mapping to serve its database, which needs to be constantly updated as physical landscapes change. For example, the Government-owned agency is trialling a scheme to get local authorities to provide it with location data, since they will be most up-to-date.

Accuracy, however, remains a consideration. “For open-source mapping you are dependent on the goodwill of people and if it is a rainy day, people might not feel like going out. Our surveyors have to go out whenever,” says Peter ter Haar at Ordnance Survey. Google is also looking to capitalise on this trend, with its recent purchase of collaborative traffic map-making app Waze, which it bought for a predicted $1.1bn (although the deal is being probed by the US antitrust regulator).

But the growing popularity of mapping runs deeper than technological advancement, says Andrew Hudson-Smith, director and reader in digital urban systems at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London. “It’s a cultural movement that people want to be part of because it has no central role. There is a realisation that geography ties up all these systems. With location you can pull together everything in one place and that helps us make sense of how the world works.” He explains that in a city, for example, it will be possible to overlay data, such as flight paths, traffic routes and local transportation to give people a view that charts live changes.

As more people turn to map-making to help them connect to their environment, the future of maps will continue to become more complex.

By 2020, it is predicted that 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet, meaning everyday objects will be located and mapped. Alongside this will be the upshot in adoption of wearable technology, such as smartwatches or Google Glass, which puts a voice-activated computer display and high-definition video camera at the user’s eye level.

While maps can be viewed on the glass’s lens, the technology could allow users to record their daily activity using an inbuilt camera, meaning connections and memories to a place will be logged. Google Glass is yet to reach consumers, but as it moves into the mainstream, this reality is not far off. Apps such as Nike+ and Move It! which use GPS to track the user’s running or walking route and speed, are already doing this.

“I love the fact that we can replay time and walk through places with a rich history, such as London, and capture time that in a hundred years people will be able to replay,” says Hudson-Smith.

But location sharing for many is too personal, creepy and, in certain circumstances, dangerous. And the recent news about the National Security Agency’s widespread internet surveillance programme, shines light on concerns that we are blindly walking into a surveillance society. With the huge amount of data being produced by individuals everyday, this is an inescapable fact.

As the physical and digital worlds move ever closer, maps will become live entities. Magical maps may sound creepy, but for aficionados the opportunity to connect with their geographies in new ways will be vast.

How to make a map your own ??

How to make a map your own


Uses OpenStreetMap to create map visualisations, with in-house designers and cartographers to improve the data quality.


Allows users to overlay personal stories on maps.


Dubbed an Instagram service for maps, it uses OpenStreetMap data to let users create unique data visualisations


A database where the community can upload different sounds from cities around the world, overlay them on a map and access an online-sound archive.

Google Map Maker

A more basic tool, but allows users to overlay personal details over Google Maps and share them.


This traffic and navigation app, recently purchased by Google, is created by a community that contribute to a live online map showing traffic hotspots.

Map of Meteorite Crash Landings


Wonder where on Earth to collect space rocks? Stay at home. The map above shows every meteorite strike known to fall on earthly terrain. And from the looks of it, the United States is prime collecting grounds.

To build the map, Javier de la Torre, co-founder of Vizzuality and CartoDB, used records from Meteoritical Society that pinpointed the location of 34,513 meteorite strikes dating back to 2,300BC.

Why these hotspots? It is likely that no one particular place is more susceptible to a meteorite strike than another. What is more likely is that the identified locations are in areas where people know to look for meteorites, having either seen a meteor streak through the sky or finding one with the knowledge that not all rocks on Earth originated here.


New Platinum Age of Maps

Plotting the landscape of digital information

 For this street map of the United States, pink shades represent roads that were mapped recently by OpenStreetMap users; bluer shades represent roads that were mapped years ago. OpenStreetMap

For this street map of the United States, pink shades represent roads that were mapped recently by OpenStreetMap users; bluer shades represent roads that were mapped years ago.

The 17th Century, particularly in The Netherlands, is considered the Golden Age of maps. The Dutch were spanning the globe for trade and their maps and atlases became lavish and colorful works of art depicting mysterious worlds encountered by explorers.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and with the ubiquity of GPS devices, navigational maps have more or less gone the way of the horse and buggy. But maps themselves are seeing a renaissance as the landscape of digital information needs plotting.

Andy Woodruff, a cartographer with Axis Maps, primarily makes Web-based, interactive maps, much like the ones found on his website Bostonography says we’re experiencing a boom thanks to revolutionary advances in digital mapping tools and software.

“Technology has allowed people to see what people like us always knew: that geography is endlessly fascinating and hugely important in our lives,” Woodruff told Discovery News.

There’s nothing quite like poring over a great map, so click through our collection and get a glimpse of how today’s digital cartographers are indeed ‘pushing it further.’


A fascinating map of the world’s most and least racially tolerant countries

racism-map3In the bluer countries, fewer people said they would not want neighbors of a different race; in red countries, more people did. Among the dozens of questions that World Values asks, the Swedish economists found one that, they believe, could be a pretty good indicator of tolerance for other races. The survey asked respondents in more than 80 different countries to identify kinds of people they would not want as neighbors. Some respondents, picking from a list, chose “people of a different race.” The more frequently that people in a given country say they don’t want neighbors from other races, the economists reasoned, the less racially tolerant you could call that society. (The study concluded that economic freedom had no correlation with racial tolerance, but it does appear to correlate with tolerance toward homosexuals.

If we treat this data as indicative of racial tolerance, then we might conclude that people in the bluer countries are the least likely to express racist attitudes, while the people in red countries are the most likely.


Mapping the wealth of the world’s billionaires






The world’s billionaires increasingly hail from nearly all corners of the globe. The world’s billionaires list by Forbes pins down the wealthiest people from 64 countries across the globe. The US has led the way since Forbes started wealth tracking 27 years ago. Americans represented 31% of the list entrants in 1987 and today that figure is the same. They are worth a combined $1.87 trillion, representing just over one-third of total billionaire wealth in 2013.

At the second tier, there has been much more movement. Japan is home to 1.5% of the world’s 1,426 billionaires. China, which a decade ago had no billionaires, has jumped into second place with 122, or 8.6%. Russia is third with 110, or 7.7%. There has been change among the regions too. For years, Europe had the most billionaires after the US but Asia-Pacific jumped ahead and is now pulling away. Today it is home to 386, up from just 61 a decade ago.


Our Lovely Planet in December 22, 2012 Morning

The scientists working with NASA have proven time and time again that they have a very healthy sense of humor, and the latest picture they decided to make available to the general public further confirms this status quo.

To cut a long story short: those who are still unsure whether or not the world came to an end yesterday can now bid their worries “farewell,” as the picture above, taken by NASA on December 22, 2012, proves that the Earth is still “completely intact.”

“Isn’t this a great sight? Our lovely planet, completely intact, taken as a new day began: Dec. 22, 2012. Courtesy of NOAA’s GOES 15 satellite over the Pacific Ocean,” reads the message accompanying this picture.

Hopefully, those hiding in the underground or in their bunkers will now agree to once again step out into the light and go about their daily routine.