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OpenStreetMap wants to crowdsource a map of the Amazon

Crowdsourced mapping is can be very helpful in many places, but it has the most potential in areas that haven’t been professionally mapped in their entirety, such as the Amazon rainforest. That’s why OpenStreetMap has just launched Mapazonia, a community-driven project that it hopes will at least partially map out the 2.1 million square miles of the Amazon rainforest.

OpenStreetMap is fast-emerging as one of the key open projects — so much so, that proprietary rivals in the world of digital maps are evidently getting worried. Just as the LAMP stack — GNU/Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/PHP/Python — provided a robust and free foundation for a whole generation of websites a decade and a half ago, so OpenStreetMap is becoming more widely adopted as part of the mobile web, and as geodata grows in importance for a new generation of software applications aimed at users on the move. Although OpenStreetMap provides better coverage than well-funded commercial rivals in many parts of the world, with important knock-on consequences, there are still some regions where its maps are largely empty. Take Amazonia, for example. OpenStreetMap shows the main rivers, a few towns, and that’s about it.

 

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