Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Help map Columbia Heights, Park View and Petworth on OpenStreetMap (and explore the neighborhood)

Do you like maps? Do you like walking around your neighborhood? Do you like learning new things and helping people? If so, there's an event for you on Saturday: Let's Map Columbia Heights, Petworth and Park View, from 12:30 to 4:30 pm at the Petworth Library.

What is all this? There's great website called, which is a free, editable and open map of the world -- think Wikipedia but for maps.

OpenStreetMap is free to use and anyone can add to it or edit it, unlike maps like Google Maps, where the data is owned by companies and has restrictive licenses. Many humanitarian organizations, local businesses, governments and community groups like OpenStreetMap because it's more complete than other maps in many parts of the world, and if it's not, they can make it better.  (For example, Bad Saint on 11th Street was on OpenStreetMap before it was on Google Maps, and the Sochi Olympics venues were much better on OpenStreetMap.)

It's been used lately in Chile and Nepal after the earthquakes, the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, in West Africa during the Ebola crisis, and much more.

And the data can be used for anything -- analysis, planning, even making cool products like these laser cut maps which use OpenStreetMap:

DC has its own OpenStreetMap user group, MappingDC, and we've organized a "mapathon" for Columbia Heights, Park View and southern Petworth, which are all lacking some businesses, offices and other points of interest. I did a project last year working with local kids to map out Georgia Avenue on OpenStreetMap, but now we need to do the rest.

And one of the good things about the map is that DC Government has contributed their data for building outlines, so those are already on the map -- we just have to fill in the details

You don't need any special skills and it's easy to learn -- just come to the Petworth Library between 12:30 and 4:30 pm on Saturday the 10th, and we'll give you some paper maps of a few blocks and you just walk around and add details, like name and type of building or business, the address, operating hours and so on. Then come back to the library and we'll help you add the data you collected to OpenStreetMap. It's a fun way to get out around the neighborhood and learn some fun new skills.

Here's more from the event invitation:
Are you new to editing OpenStreetMap? This event will introduce you to surveying street level geographic features and teach you how to enter them into OpenStreetMap. It's a great event to bring your kids, young or old. It's a great event for non-technical folks who are interested in their community.

The Columbia Heights and southern Petworth neighborhoods (and neighboring Park View) are lacking a lot of businesses and other important places, so let's get them on the map! And there's a lot of new development too. We'll be walking around and putting things on the map, so it'll be a nice opportunity to get outside and explore a bit. Wear good walking shoes! And bring a friend! 
We're meeting at the Petworth Public Library, which is a couple blocks from the Georgia Ave-Petworth Metro (green/yellow) and close to a lot of buses and Bikeshare too.
There's also lots of good coffee, lunch and bar options nearby, so might be a fun way to see a new neighborhood if you haven't been!

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