Top digital map innovations from State of the Map

Top digital map innovations from State of the Map

OpenStreetMap’s conference, State of the Map (SotM), is coming up in a few weeks in Brussels!

This follows the local US conference in Seattle last month. Over the years SotM events have become bigger and better and yet even taking that in to account, Seattle was a great event. Somehow the planning and the venue (the leafy Seattle University campus) combined to make the large event feel both friendly and intimate.

The highlights began pretty much immediately with a video from Bill Gates during the keynote. He carefully thanked OSMers – when you’re trying to eradicate a disease from the planet you need to find everyone, and that takes maps.

All the talks were recorded which lets me pick a few exciting areas to highlight and share, but they’re all worth watching!


Portable OSM is a collection of magic pieces to make mapping work where there’s no internet. The internet of things has paid a dividend in the availability of small and cheap computing (like the Raspberry Pi). By using devices like this, the OSM tools and some glue, POSM makes it possible to support mapping without the internet. The data is edited using a kind of “OSM in a box” which you can sync with the main OSM data when you find internet again.

This makes it possible to send a device in to remote areas, collect a bunch of data and then ship it back out again. The data makes it to OSM and then we can close the loop by using it again for routing offline in apps like navmii.


Taking aerial imagery and automatically turning it in to street networks is an interesting problem, and something that came up multiple times in Seattle. What’s deeply interesting to me is that I was on a team in a previous life that worked on this, but we never shipped it. That means it effectively doesn’t exist, and today imagery, tools and computing are all far more available.

This means that today pretty much anyone can go and make streets from imagery. The larger point is that there’s a lot of untapped potential in the world. There are tools and ideas that have been done before in closed or quiet environments like R&D labs or universities, but just haven’t been done openly. You might think something is done or obvious but it isn’t really until it’s out in the wild and talked about at conferences.


I’m biased on this one as I helped make it happen. OpenStreetView, like mapillary, let you put your phone in a car and record images as you drive. We can then use all those photos to find street signs and other useful stuff for making a map.

SotM conferences and Open Street Map are firmly at the heart of the growing digital map industry, which is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 13.79% during the period 2016-2020. As a key provider of mapping solutions, we are excited to be part of State of the Map (SotM), Brussels.

The future is bright. The future is powered by digital maps and map data.

See you in Brussels!

Steve Coast is a Strategic Board Advisor for Navmii


Steve Coast Navmii Board Advisor

Steve Coast Navmii Board Advisor

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