OpenStreetMap is a free project that collects for each spatial data freely usable ( Open Data ). Using these data, world maps can be calculated or special cards are derived and navigation are operated. On the OpenStreetMap home such a map is available.

  • 5.1 Server
  • 5.2 Data Formats
  • 5.3 Editing Tools
  • 6.1 GPS tracks
  • 6.2 Aerial Photos 6.2.1 Yahoo
  • 6.2.2 Bing
  • 6.2.3 OpenAerialMap
  • 6.2.4 Landsat
  • 6.2.5 Bavaria
  • 6.2.6 GeoImage
  • 6.2.7 Aargau
  • 6.2.8 Hamburg


The OpenStreetMap project has been launched in London by Steve Coast in July 2004. Since then, volunteers from many countries both in the development of software as well as in the collection and processing of spatial data. In March 2006, the infrastructure was so far that first larger areas could be mapped. In July 2006, approximately 2500 users were already registered who had inserted at this time about nine million waypoints in the OpenStreetMap database. A year later, the number of employees had increased nearly fourfold and tenfold the amount of data.

In April 2006, the OpenStreetMap Foundation was founded. She collects donations and is a committee for decision-making and responsibility for the project. The OpenStreetMap Foundation is an international non-profit organization. Their goals are to create, distribute, and enlarge a geographic dataset, and providing its free for general use.

In January 2008, the import of the TIGER database was completed (see also Section Import). The TIGER data recorded by the state offer a basic coverage of the United States, which must be further improved by the users, as areas such as sports fields are still missing and the data is partially outdated.

In March 2009, more than 100,000 users had registered worldwide. Mid- January 2013 it was reported that the brand was pierced by a million users and thus the number of users has doubled over the past 14 months.

In December 2013, there were nearly 1.5 million users, more than 3.7 billion GPS points, 2.1 billion nodes, 210 million Ways and 2.3 million relations.

Procedure Mapping

The cards are created from data collected by volunteers or made ​​available to the project from other sources. Serve as a data base data both manually entered and recorded. These are usually recorded by the volunteers with a GPS receiver, while they are on the streets, roads or rivers.

After uploading the recorded data (as GPS tracks in GPX format ) is initially not clear whether it is in the data, for example, a highway, a county road, a railway line or a dirt road. In a second step, the data are processed by the same user or by others. The staff provided the raw geospatial information, the attributes (English tags ) that allow, for example, to automatically generate maps from them or derive data for navigation devices. For example, a highway with highway = attribute an industrial area with landuse = is characterized motorway, industrial.

In addition, useful information - such as restaurants, hiking network affiliation or opening times - are given that are presented depending on the map.

This separation of the steps - recording and uploading one hand, editing the raw data on the other hand - people can also participate in the project that do not have a GPS receiver. Particularly includes editing the add and edit Points of Interests (POI ) ( such as house numbers, bus stops, taxi ranks, schools, public phones). With the help of appropriate local knowledge of the editor of the dataset is expanded, and errors are corrected. The process of mapping is called "mapping " in the jargon.

The Taking data for OpenStreetMap from other cards is mostly due to the rights to geo prohibited by law ( the sign-off of Bing aerial imagery, however, is allowed because its operator, Microsoft has issued an explicit authorization to OSM ). To detect violations of these laws, that is, to check whether data has been taken from other cards, the cards are often equipped with intentional errors, the trap Streets.


The mapping is typically done alone. In some areas, so-called mapping parties are organized in which a predetermined area shall be covered together and entered into the database. This facilitates especially beginners to get started in OpenStreetMap.

Since 2007, an annual conference held OpenStreetMap - State of the Map called. The OpenStreetMap has its own tracks on the GIS conferences FOSSGIS and Intergeo as well as at the Chaos Communication Congress.

Areas of application

Map display

From the data of OpenStreetMap road maps not only for car drivers can be generated. Depending on the data used and how they are presented in map form, the data also about the creation of bicycle and hiking maps can be used. Also available, including a map for ski areas, maps showing the public transport and the portal OpenSeaMap for sailors and power boaters.

The maps generated from the two-dimensional spatial data are first, that is, they contain no representation of relief ( for example, contour lines ). However, there are tools for converting and displaying the external sources relating to SRTM data. Thus, contour lines or hillshading can be added.

The OpenLayers project enables the easy integration of maps in Web pages. The OSM Plugin for WordPress binds the OpenStreetMap data in a blog for the link between contributions and photos with geographic data and visualization of the corresponding relationships. There are also other projects like the virtual globe Marble for Qt 4 or the cosmos renderer for Windows.

Yahoo uses OpenStreetMap data for its flickr offer for different cities, such as Baghdad, Beijing, Kabul, Sydney and Tokyo.

Routing and navigation

The route calculation with the OpenStreetMap data is mostly mature but still evolving. The data are not yet through with enough detail. Often information is missing house numbers, one way streets and turn restrictions at intersections.

There are currently three major web-based projects in this area: The University of Heidelberg operates the OpenRouteService, the offer of Your navigation is developed by a community of developers under the BSD license, and the company CloudMade also operates an online travel service. Like the Service Cloud Made Open Source Routing Machine ( OSRM ) used a so-called speedup technique to significantly accelerate the route calculation.

For bicycle route planning Naviki draws on OSM maps. In the calculation of cycle-friendly paths are preferred. There is also a version for smart phones, but this is so far available only for Germany.

Also for mobile devices, there are routable applications. Examples are Roadee and Skobbler for the iPhone, and WeTravel GpsMid for Java-enabled mobile phones, Traveling Salesman for nettops and AndNav2 for Android or TrackMyJourney, which in turn uses one of the aforementioned web-based routing engines. The open source project OsmAnd ( OpenStreetMap Automated Navigation Directions) offers several online navigation services, as well as your own offline routing function. A solution based on Qt with the name MoNav used as OSRM the contraction Hierarchies algorithm as a basis for fast route calculation. MoNav can be for different versions of Windows Mobile, and for all systems with Qt support, create.

Some community members offer routable maps in Garmin format, making it possible to use OpenStreetMap data on a variety of GPS receivers this brand. These are created with help of the program Mkgmap. Newer Garmin devices can also represent raster map in KMZ format or proprietary Birdseye format. The size of KMZ cards is very limited in terms of the number of usable tiles and zoom level, but there are now software and firmware patches to use the protected Birdseye format for self-created maps from OSM tiles.

For other navigation devices it is usually not possible or difficult to use OpenStreetMap maps because no converter for their native file formats exist. To some extent it can be installed on laptops or separate programs such as Navit or Gosmore.



The OpenStreetMap database server uses a PostgreSQL database. The Website and the API are programmed largely in Ruby on Rails. The database contains the spatial data, so with additional information (attributes, Eng. Daytime ) provided lines and points. This data is vector data and are the main product of the project. It is but it also rendered a pixel graphics card ( PNG). This is generated by a separate PostGIS database and the Mapnik renderer whose data are updated with changes in the raw data. In order to reduce the rendering load, only the areas of the map that were actually considered, rendered, including specially the Apache module mod_tile was written. The Mapnik renderer offers the standard view of OpenStreetMap, the rendering style used for this purpose is supervised by professional cartographers.

Apart from the servers of the Foundation, there are a number of other computers that are operated by independent parties and offer important services for the project.

Data formats

The most common way to get to geospatial data, is to use a handheld GPS device. Also, some are commercial navigation systems are able to record GPS tracks. The data obtained can be uploaded to the OpenStreetMap server, but this is not mandatory. To convert the data into a suitable format for the project, conversion programs like GPSBabel which developed from the OpenStreetMap project OSM filters and several other special assistance programs are available. This data can be converted into a GPX file for example from the standardized raw GPS (NMEA) or proprietary formats. All data is collected in WGS84 format with length and width, and are usually represented in Mercator projection.

The finished card data is exchanged in. Osm format, an XML format whose syntax is similar to the outputs of the OpenStreetMap API. Copies of the entire database will be available weekly ( planet file). Similarly, there are daily and hourly updates and excerpts for individual countries.

In addition, on the website of Geofabrik the vector data as shapefiles (* .shp / shx / dbf) provided that in many geographic information systems (GIS ) can be used. Also provided by third alternative APIs to download and filter the data as XAPI and Overpass API.

Cutting Tools

To edit data, there are various ways that are largely in the basic method is the same. To edit you must register with a verified email address. Signing up is free and is intended to prevent spam and vandalism. The read access is possible without registration.

As raw data are usually located on the local computer or on the server uses loaded GPS tracks. This may also be shown by the machining tool together with freely available satellite or aerial images. Based on these data the user bases can - the nodes - create the lines with - are connected - the Ways. These points and lines can be assigned attributes.

To edit the data, an editor is needed. For the OpenStreetMap project provides several ways:

  • The offline editor JOSM based on Java and can run on multiple desktop platforms. A German user interface is available. JOSM currently offers the widest range of features and is for just over 50 % of all treatments used (as of 2013).
  • The online editor Potlatch on based on Adobe Flash technology. Arrangements with Potlatch contribute to the time approximately 30% for the database in (as of 2012). The editor was replaced by iD as the default editor, but is still available.
  • The offline editor Merkaartor is based on Qt.
  • The offline editor Osmosis, command-line application that allows to compose processing chains and can accomplish as well as larger operations.
  • A mobile editor is Vespucci, a powerful editor for Android Smarthphones. In the latest version, the editing and creating relationships is supported.
  • The mobile editor Iloe is the first OpenStreetMap editor for the iPhone. It allows you to add and modify " Nodes" while on the go.
  • OSM2Go is a mobile OSM editor for Nokia Internet Tablets with maemo with GPS, touch screen and stylus support, based on GTK / C and runs under Unix desktop

Other programs can read and write access on the XML - RPC interface to the data on the OpenStreetMap server.

Data sources

Data sources from OpenStreetMap are:

GPS tracks

GPS tracks obtained with a GPS receiver by recording the track, which one is walked or driven in many areas provide the main source of the geometry of paths and roads dar. This GPS traces, some other activities incidentally incurred, but also partly of volunteers by shutting down every street of a location aware arise for the mapping, however, form only the basis. Then they have to be signed off as individual streets and provided with information such as road type, and name. For additional information is often collected as ( georeferenced ) photos, audio recordings, notes and sketches. To record the GPS tracks GPS navigation devices, GPS data loggers or modern mobile phones with GPS function. Some navigation devices will need special software, many support the log function of the house.

Due to the limited accuracy of individual GPS tracks is best to work with multiple, recorded at different times of GPS traces the same route. Users can upload their own traces, and make available to other users in OpenStreetMap, in many editors, the function for up-and downloading of GPS traces is already integrated.

Aerial photos

Aerial photographs are almost worldwide in different high resolutions. They now constitute the main source for the geometry of paths and roads and other geo-objects dar. They are usually precisely aligned and equalized ( georeferencing ). They will open in a drawing program ( Notepad) as background, and the objects are in the foreground then signed off. The properties of the objects, so for example, if a road is a local road or a highway is to be, then later supplemented by local guide, or can be determined directly to a limited extent by experienced Luftbildauswertern.


The air footage of Yahoo could be used from 2006 to 2011 for signing off. Of the Yahoo images for example, Baghdad has been signed, as the security situation does not allow the detection site. Usually, however, only slightly better resolved metropolitan areas were eligible to sign-off from roads and buildings. To September 13, 2011 Yahoo ended the support of the necessary programming interfaces. The conforming license signing off from Yahoo aerial photographs is thus no longer possible.


On 23 November 2010 it was announced that Microsoft put the aerial photographs of its map service Bing Maps for the sign-off available and OSM founder Steve Coast will coordinate as a new Microsoft employee collaboration between Bing and OSM. On 30 November 2010, a document was released by Microsoft, which defines the conditions under which the air recordings may be used for OpenStreetMap closer.


The desire to illustrate OpenStreetMap with a world map of free air recordings, was met with OpenAerialMap project. This service is no longer available since November 2009. A resumption has been announced but not implemented until today.


The public domain Landsat -7 satellite imagery can be displayed and facilitate orientation and thus the processing. The resolution is usually too poor to use for signing off details - great roads, water surfaces and the like can be about but recognize. Even services such as Bing and Yahoo unhide the Landsat images, if they do not own aerial photographs of this area.


The Bavarian State Office for Surveying has provided in 2009 orthophotos of the Upper Palatinate in two-meter resolution for copying, to gain experience in working with OpenStreetMap as part of a three -month pilot project. The result: in just three months, two years voluntary civil work were made.

Since 24 February 2011, the two-meter aerial photos for Bavaria are released from the Survey Office.


Since October 2010, aerial photographs for all of Austria has released for signing off for OpenStreetMap. is extremely accurate position and was first offered in a resolution of 1 pixel / meter. Since July 2011 imagery is a resolution of 4 pixels / meter ( 1px/25cm ) available.


Since April 2012, high-quality images from the year 2011 the Aargau geographic information system in 25 cm resolution for the canton of Aargau ( Switzerland ) may be used.


Since 2012, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg as part of the Hamburg Transparency Law, the basic geodata as well as the official, geocoded aerial images at a resolution of 40 centimeters per pixel ready.

Local Knowledge

Although GPS tracks and aerial photographs are an important database for OpenStreetMap, many useful information also register without access to any of these sources in the OpenStreetMap database. Is once a backbone of trails and roads in a place available, additional information, such as names, house numbers and traffic restrictions can be added. The same applies to important facilities such as shops, churches, post boxes and so on, which are entered by hand relative to the existing trail network. Locations that require revision or where information is missing, can easily be marked without notice from anyone on the OpenStreetBugs site.

Various solutions have been designed for testing the quality of OpenStreetMap data. Among other things, the OSM Inspector and keep right inconsistent data, such as non-affiliated roads, lack of road crossings or incorrect use of tags can be easily detected and corrected with local knowledge.


  • In the United States, the TIGER data set is to provide a basic level. These guidelines were developed by the Federal Statistical Office of the United States street data from 1984 provide an excellent ground cover in the United States dar. The import was completed in January 2008.
  • The Dutch company AND has put the project current road material throughout the Netherlands and the main road networks in China and India are available, in the expectation that the community improves this material. The import of the Dutch data was started on 5 September 2007 and concluded in early October 2007. On 4 February 2008, the data for India were imported.
  • Importing of data from local government: for example, road cadastre, which were established through the introduction of NKF. Examples are the city wages and the community Kirchlengern.
  • The Frida project provided free vector data for Osnabrück available.
  • Many coastlines are from the from the National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency ( NGA) provided PGS data ( Prototype Global Shoreline Data), which were obtained from Landsat images.
  • For countries limits the data from the CIA World Data Bank II ( WDB ) are imported.
  • In Austria, data were imported from

Automated imports are controversially discussed in the OpenStreetMap community and require meticulous preparation. Comparisons show in particular that the community is in the U.S. much smaller (in terms of number of active users and share objects with multiple versions ) than for example in Germany. This is the early TIGER import attributed.

List of possible data sources

OpenStreetMap maintains an extensive, ordered by countries and regions list of possible data sources. It is noted in each case, whether these sources were currently only proposed, tested or approved for use.

Card at any location-related articles


The data of the OpenStreetMap project were initially licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 (CC BY- SA 2.0). With this license, however, some problems were accompanied. For example, it is not certain in the United States, whether the data by this license - which is based solely on copyright - could ever be protected. The principle facts are free could prevent that. Remedy was hoped by another license that is based not only on the copyright, but also, for example, the database legislation, which is why early on the introduction of a new license has been discussed.

Since September 2012, the OpenStreetMap Foundation published the database under the Open Database License (ODbL ). Given its approval for licensing under the ODbL by the contributor accepts the so-called Contributor Terms. Since May 2010, this is a prerequisite for creating an account on the OpenStreetMap site. The owners of user accounts that were registered before that date, were asked to subsequent approval; the contributions for which no consent could be obtained, were removed from the database under the license conversion until July 2012. The map graphics produced from the data that are available on the website of the OpenStreetMap project, even after the license change continue to be available under the CC BY -SA 2.0.

The ODbL has a share-alike clause, which requires that derived databases are available under the same license. Therefore, it is not possible to link additional data with restrictive copyright with OpenStreetMap data, without providing the additional data under the license of OpenStreetMap. For example, spatial data, which may be used for research purposes only (but are otherwise protected), not mixed with OpenStreetMap data.

Most programs for editing and converting the data as well as the source code of the OpenStreetMap website under free software licenses available. The use of OpenStreetMap data in proprietary software is expressly allowed.