File Under: Location, Web Services

Watch OpenStreetMap Improve in Real Time

OpenStreetMap is improving all the time. Now you can watch it happen. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey.

OpenStreetMap isn’t just a powerful, open alternative to Google Maps — used in everything from Apple’s maps to those on Flickr, Wikipedia and dozens of other sites — it’s also a great example of the web’s hive mind at work.

Everyday hundreds, even thousands, of people contribute small changes, improvements and new bits of data to OpenStreetMap. A new trail here, an updated road there and so on until the result is something which, in many locations around the world, trumps the level of detail commercial maps offer.

Now you can watch those changes happen in real time. OSM Lab, an organization for OpenStreetMap related projects, recently released Show Me the Way, an OpenStreetMap project that tracks and displays OSM edits in real time.

There are two views of Show Me the Way, the satellite view (using Bing imagery) and the live OSM-based overview version. Both offer a strangely hypnotic peek behind the scenes of OpenStreetMap’s contributions.

The code behind Show Me the Way also offers a nice look at how to work with real time data and maps. You can grab the source from GitHub.