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For those that might not have heard, there is a growing group of people who are helping to provide free mapping data. Called OpenStreetMap, initially the idea started due to the pricing, lock-in and licensing of mapping data in the UK by the Ordinance Survey. Now that GPS devices are more widely available, and even included in many mobile phones, such as the Nokia N95, individuals have taken it upon themselves to track large parts of the UK, and has now extended around the world.
If the idea of helping to track your local area sounds like fun, take a look at the OpenStreetMap Wiki, and follow the help and howtos to get familiar with how to do the tracking, how to store and transfer your data, and how to help make the maps themselves. As more and more people are getting involved in the project, a number of people have got together to organise mapping parties. These concentrate on one particular area over an evening or a weekend, and rather than several people covering the same routes several times, working together they can cover a wider area more quickly.
The next Birmingham Mapping Party will be April 12-13, and using the The Kitchen Garden Café in Kings Heath as a base, the mapping will focus on the centre/south of Birmingham. Future mapping parties are planned for the Black Country and Wolverhampton too.
To help promote the efforts of the trackers and mappers for OpenStreetMap, Andy Robinson (aka Blackadder), will be coming along to the March Technical Meeting for Birmingham Perl Mongers, and presenting a talk about what OpenStreetMap is about, how to get involved and hopefully encourage people to come along to the mapping party. Entry to the meeting is free and you are encouraged to invite friends and colleagues along to The Victoria, John Bright Street, Birmingham (5 minutes from New Street Station), on 26th March. See you there.
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