Mapping, Cartography and Geographic Information Systems

Browsing Posts in Opinion

While browsing Google Maps earlier this evening I noticed that the ‘StreetView’ selector seemed to have gone live – that is “Pegman” as Google call it, turned yellow when the map was zoomed in:

Click on Pegman and move him onto the map and georeferenced photos from Google’s Panoramio service will appear:

Panoramio photos on Google Maps in Ireland

Panoramio photos on Google Maps in Ireland

Some of the geo-referencing is quite off, but much of it is good.  Here’s the official announcement from the Google lat/Long Blog.  Of course if you zoom out to show all of Europe, you can see the volume of georeferenced photos, but more interestingly, the areas where StreetView is currently available:

Pegman goes to Europe

Is this update a precursor for the much anticipated arrival of StreetView here in Ireland?  No word yet on that, ‘early next year’ seems to be the sufficiently vague agreed date.

Today, June 16th, is Bloomsday – a celebration of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ which is set in the Dublin of 1904.  In the novel Leopold Bloom muses that “a good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub”  The puzzle might be easier to solve these days, as there are many fewer pubs in our city, but has anyone actually tried to solve it?

One possibilty might be to use data from ‘OpenStreetMap’ (OSM) which has most of the streets and many of the pubs in Dublin already recorded.  Unfortunately the data is incomplete – and this is where I’m asking for help.

On Bloomsday (or any other day..) can you check the map of Dublin (here: and see if you know any pubs which are missing from the map.  Look for the Pint Glass icon - 

An initial attempt to solve the puzzle will focus on the area inside the Royal and Grand canals, which mark the extent of the inner-city area.  But adding pubs for other parts of Dublin (or anywhere else, of course) will help improve the quality of the map.

So, how do you go about adding a pub to the map?

The process is quite simple, zoom to an area you are familiar with and then click on the ‘Edit’ tab.

You will be asked to create an account. Once you’ve done that and activated it you will be able to log in and use the basic OSM editor (it’s called Potlatch)

The opening dialog box asks you if you want to “Edit with Save” or ‘Edit Live” – Choose the “Edit with Save” option.  And that’s it – you’re ready to add information to the map.

Potlatch handily provides a number of ready made ‘Points of Interest’ including Pubs at the bottom of the screen.  To add a pub to the map simply click on the icon and drag it to where the pub is located.  You will then be asked to provide the pub’s name. You can add other information, such as a website etc. if you know them.

Then click on ‘Save’ in the bottom right, optionally provide a description of your changes, and you’re done. It’s really that simple. It might take a short while for your edit to show up – there are thousands of people making edits to the map at any one time and the update process requires a bit of computer processing.

Of course if you have any other edits you can do them too – perhaps a street name is missing or misspelled, or that post-box is no longer there. Fix the map, and make it better for everybody.

Perhaps we should update Bloom’s musing for 21st century Dublin: “… to cross Dublin without passing a Spar…” (The icon for convenience stores are in Potlatch’s bottom bar too…)

Important note: Please respect copyright – don’t copy information from other mapping providers (Google, Yahoo, Ordnance Survey etc.)

You can find out more about OpenStreetMap here:


UPDATE: June 15 2011. It turns out that someone has done the analysis, using OpenStreetMap data and has determined that it is indeed possible to cross the city (from canal to canal) without passing a pub.  You can read how it was done and see the route here:

Now, is it possible to cross Dublin without passing a Spar?

At GeoGraphic we love maps and data. We especially love open maps and data, so the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project has a special place in our heart. At OSM hundreds of thousands of volunteers worldwide are building a completely free open map of the world, in extraordinary detail. It’s like the Wikipedia of maps.

We’re holding a mapping party in Dublin on Wednesday 19th May, at The Bleeding Horse pub on Camden St from 6pm – 9pm. Come along, find out about the project and help us to improve the map of Dublin. We’ll go on a walk around the area capturing information (everything from streets, addresses, post boxes or whatever it is that you’re interested in) and then we’ll show you how to put the information you’ve gathered onto the map, while having a beer or three.

The OSM community is growing quickly, but we need your help to produce and maintain the best online map there is. Progress since the founding of the project in 2006 has been stunning – here’s a video showing all of the edits to the map in 2008 alone:

OSM 2008: A Year of Edits from ItoWorld on Vimeo.

There are many advantages to OSM when compared to using Ordnance Survey maps or those provided by Google / Microsoft etc. Just look at this response to the Haiti earthquake by OSM volunteers:

OpenStreetMap – Project Haiti from ItoWorld on Vimeo.

This event is being jointly promoted by the Irish Internet Association as part of their ‘Digitise the Nation’ week.

Digitise the Nation with OpenStreetMap: Irish Internet Association blog.

For more information on this mapping party please leave a comment below, or email me. You can alsofind out more about OSM in Ireland and contact members of the Irish OSM community via our OSM Wiki page.

OSi - Stop sign

Open for innovation?

Today, 30th March 2010, Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) launched their MapGenie service.  It looks very impressive, giving users access to OSi Raster data from Large Scale (Local maps, 1:1,000) to Small Scale (National maps, 1:2,000,000) and points in between. An overview is available on the OSi website here:

This represents an excellent ehancement of OSi’s offerings to it’s large customers, who, let us not forget, make up the bulk of OSi’s revenue. Indeed, according to the OSi’s most recent annual report (2007, available here: Utilities and Local Authorities alone made up over 50% of revenue that year.

However I will echo the blog post by ESRI Ireland (who provided some of the underlying technology for MapGenie) by stating that I feel OSi could have gone further in allowing free access to some of it’s data to the wider public.  This is what OSGB are doing for the UK – making large and some medium scale products available without any restriction on derived data.  This opening-up of OSGB data has received a lot of press particularly in The Guardian and it’s associated Free Our Data campaign. Open access to map data, even at medium and small scale, would be tremendously useful in fostering innovation in the GI sector and beyond here in Ireland.

Also in the UK an extensive consultation exercise on the future of OSGB has just concluded – Google’s Ed Parsons gives his opinion and offers an extensive list of links to the submissions of others – some very interesting reading there.

It is my opinion that these changes in the UK, and the ongoing communication with users of GI there, is being ushered along by the growing realisation within OSGB of the power, flexibility and accuracy of crowd-sourced data, OpenStreetMap in particular, allied to the increasing quality and resolution of public domain datasets such as NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission.  I hope that a similar realisation takes hold within OSi and helps to bring about more open access to some of their data.

Powered by WordPress Web Design by SRS Solutions © 2014 GeoGraphic Design by SRS Solutions