About PopulateOSM

When I first moved to South Korea in 2016 I needed a map app that would work offline. Google Maps would have been my first choice if it wasn’t for China blocking it and Korea ‘censoring’ it. This meant that I had to look for an alternative map provider that would work offline as well. After consulting friends whom have traveled to those regions before most of them told me to go for MAPS.ME. While I really liked the app I noticed that there were a lot of places missing and roads outdated. After looking through their settings I noticed that they used the OpenStreetMap dataset. I had heard of it before but never really looked into it. This is where my interest for OpenStreetMap started. The following two years I spent mapping South Korea on OpenStreetMap and getting more involved in the OpenStreetMap community.

After mapping streets and buildings the most important things to map are points of interest. This includes (but not limited to) cafés, bars, museums, shops, restaurants, monuments etcetera. I usually did this by walking on the street with an app like MAPS.ME open to add stuff that I saw. However, it takes a lot of time to stop at each building and to fill out the name and type of the place together with other information like the phone number, address and so on. There had to be a faster way of doing this.

Meet PopulateOSM (https://populateosm.com). This app gathers data from point of interests of other providers on to a map together with OpenStreetMap points of interests. Now you can walk on the streets, check if a point if interest is already on OpenStreetMap and if it’s not you can add it. The difference is that instead of typing all the information by hand, you can simply check what information another provider has on it and copy that to OpenStreetMap with a simple button press. No more typing, no more standing still. Just walking and adding.

 

Technical details

The first version of PopulateOSM has just been released. The Git repository will be published soon as well. The server runs on DigitalOcean, is built with Node.js and connects with an external MongoDB hosted by MongoDB Atlas. Upkeep costs for the domain name and server is about €70 a year.

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